A cruise bus excursion gone wrong.
If you’re a baby boomer who enjoys cruising, then sooner or later you’ll find yourself on a cruise bus tour where group dynamics have turned an excursion into an ordeal. Alan and I have survived a few, although most of our cruise excursions have been pleasant experiences.
When we sailed on our 52-day cruise from Vancouver to Singapore, the itinerary included several very long bus excursions. While we prefer to explore independently in port; for certain destinations, we think it’s best to opt for the safety and convenience of a cruise-sponsored trip.
With all of our cruising experience, we’ve seen our share of good and bad behavior from fellow passengers. As I said in the intro to this post, it all comes down to group travel dynamics. These nine tips will help you survive:
Make the right choice. Read the tour description. Does it sound appealing to you? Can you keep up with the activity level indicated? Will your patience last to the conclusion of a day-long bus tour to Hanoi with a driving time of 3 hours each way?
Be on time. Arrive for the tour at the appointed time. On trip stops, adhere to the schedule. Show respect to your fellow passengers. Don’t make them wait because you’re late.
Kindness counts. Are you able-bodied? Sit farther back on the bus, leaving the front seats to those who might have difficulty getting on and off.
Patience really is a virtue. Wait your turn to exit the bus. The tour isn’t going to start until everyone is off. If you have to be the first one out of the bus, sit in the front, which might mean arriving extra early at the beginning of the tour to secure a choice seat.
Keep your seat. Did you pick the wrong seat? If your location doesn’t please you, the next time you re-board the bus, look around for another seat. But, that doesn’t mean rushing back to the bus to claim someone else’s seat, which is the surest way to ignite an argument on a bus excursion.
Listen to the guide. The guide is paid to talk. If the idea of listening to him discuss the beauty of his country for the entirety of the trip bothers you, then sit closer to the back of the bus or bring along noise-canceling headphones. And remember, the guide may be paid to talk but you aren’t. Be courteous to those around you who may be trying to listen.
Stay with the group. Joining a group bus excursion does not give you the right to wander off on your own, linger taking photographs or stop for unscheduled shopping. While the tour guide desperately tries to find you, the rest of the group is steaming on the sidewalk.
Hold your tongue. Are you dissatisfied with the way the excursion is progressing? Express your displeasure privately to the tour guide. If that doesn’t correct the situation, discuss your problems with the cruise tour desk once you return to the ship.
Quell your inner rebel. If you’re unhappy with the excursion, don’t broadcast it. Other passengers might actually be enjoying themselves, or making the best of a bad situation. We’ve seen passenger insurrections started by one or two unhappy fellow cruisers. The result wasn’t pretty.
The best advice that we can give – set the tone by being positive. Board the bus with a smile, make eye contact with your fellow passengers, say hello – a little bit of niceness goes a long way.