Based on the idea that travel should educate whilst also having an emotional impact, meaningful shore side excursions should offer passengers the chance to connect with local people and discover other cultures in a more rewarding and sustainable way.

Post-pandemic cruise guests crave more authentic and culturally enriching experiences that are both socially and environmentally considerate.

We have seen a generational shift towards more sustainable experiences, with 84% of millennials seeking opportunities to immerse themselves in local culture (1). As the most socially conscious travel demographic, millennials have a high level of engagement with social and environmental issues which can affect their purchasing decisions and inspire other generations to travel more responsibly.

If we are to meet the demands of the modern cruise guest, we must continue to conceptualize the nature of shoreside excursions, adapting our itineraries to encompass the following key elements:

Exclusive Access & Expert Knowledge

Cruise guests have come to expect more from shoreside excursions and seek “once in a lifetime” opportunities that allow them to experience a destination in a new and authentic way. Special access and exclusivity are key differentiators when delivering memorable experiences in a saturated market. When visiting a cultural or historical site, 45% of cruisers also said that access to an expert guide was important when choosing a shoreside excursion (2). A tour of Ancient Rome offers knowledge, but a tour of Ancient Rome, through the eyes of an archaeologist, presents cruise guests with a rare opportunity to explore and participate in the restoration process of one of the world’s most prominent world heritage sites.

Giving back

Creating a unique discovery experience that gives back, means finding new and innovative ways to incorporate the roots and traditions of a destination. On a visit to Barcelona, cruise guests can discover the city’s famous Gothic Quarter from a new perspective, on a guided tour with a person who was formerly homeless and living on those streets. Linking history with the present day and discussing the social reality of Barcelona´s old town, this activity is about optimism, self-achievement and second chances, presenting cruise guests with the opportunity to participate in a project that works towards social inclusion, for a community at risk of exclusion. These types of experiences have a lasting impact on guests as they create meaningful moments and memories that give a whole new meaning to the travel experience.

Inspiring conscious travel

The cruise industry is working hard to reduce its global carbon footprint. Offering shoreside excursions with sustainable features that are also operating in the most sustainable way, is essential. Award-winning experiences such as Plastic Fishing in Amsterdam, invite guests to enjoy the sights of Amsterdam, while helping to ‘fish’ plastics from its canals. Collaborating with a social enterprise minimizes the negative impact of tourism and creates an opportunity for cruise guests to make a positive contribution to a local community and to the environment, enhancing their overall travel experience.

Cruise lines are always looking for ways to offer more meaningful and sustainable shorex and to achieve this we must work together with our partners and suppliers, e.g., Intercruises Sustainability Management System allows our teams and suppliers to assess our shore offering as well as the operational processes behind them, to ensure they meet the criteria outlined by the Global Tourism Sustainability Council (GSTC). With this initiative and its recent GSTC certification, cruise lines are able to offer thousands of certified, sustainable and environmentally friendly shore excursions to their guests, allowing them to make more sustainable choices and boosting customer satisfaction as we move into an ever-more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

Local immersion

We have seen an increase in interest for go-local experiences that embrace the soul and roots of a destination and enable them to travel like locals, immersing themselves in local culture and traditions, while supporting local and independent businesses recovering from the pandemic.

On a visit to Sorrento, one of the Amalfi’s most sought-after destinations, cruise guests can participate in a truly authentic Italian experience: lunch in a family home, prepared by a local mother, using ingredients from her own garden. Exploring the colourful local food markets, in search of a gift for their host, before helping to lay the table for lunch; this wholesome experience allows cruise guests to connect with Italian roots, traditions and culture, in a way very few tourists have the joy of experiencing.


Nowadays, cruise guests expect to be inspired, as well as informed. Imparting knowledge though stories that truly connect with the destination, its traditions, heritage and roots, is the most effective way to fully immerse cruise guests. The art of storytelling allows guides to foster a deeper connection with participants and keep them engaged.

Going forward we need to work together as an industry to create and deliver meaningful shoreside experiences that not only enhance the customer experience, but also have a positive impact on the environment, as well as the local communities in which we operate.

(1) American Express, 2022
(2), 2021
(3) American Express, 2022