Many cruise ships call at Turkish ports, allowing passengers the opportunity to debark and see the sights.
The cruise ships offer shore excursions for sale to their passengers on board the ship. The excursions are not operated by the cruise line, but by a local travel company.
Other local travel agencies in the port also offer their own shore excursions, not in connection with the cruise ship.
I believe that in many cases, the excursions operated by local travel agencies offer better value. Here's why:
Cruise companies expect—and receive—commissions from the sale of shore excursions. This is customary and normal in the travel industry. But how big are the commissions, and do they impact the value travelers receive?
If commissions paid to the cruise ship are big, the company operating the shore excursions will seek to recover that considerable expense by raising tour prices, offering less inclusive tours, or including shopping stops that themselves produce commissions from sales.
To benefit from the possibly higher quality and better value-for-money prices of shore excursions operated by local travel agencies, you must plan in advance. Don't wait until you are aboard your cruise ship to explore alternatives to the excursions offered through your cruise line.
Before leaving on your cruise, spend some time researching shore excursions in the ports you plan to visit. Compare itineraries, terms of service and prices, and make notes on some local travel agencies that offer appealing excursions. Contact these agencies so you are better prepared to choose between the very limited offerings on the cruise ship and the wide variety of excursions offered by local travel agencies in each port.
Also, consider contacting a local agency to discuss having a private tour of the port city. A car, driver and guide may be the perfect way to explore, and may not cost any more than the sometimes inflated prices of shore excursions offered on board cruise ships.
These recommended travel agencies, TurkeyTravelPlanner.com partners, are good places to start your enquiries:
Efendi Travel operates guided tours, walking tours, airport and seaport transfers, and has its own fleet of comfortable vehicles to accommodate individuals, couples, small or large groups. More...
Anker Travel is a local travel agency that can arrange private or group tours of Ephesus and other sights in the region. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan