Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Local Transportation

Countdown to Financial Fitness: Local Transportation: Most cruise lines do not usually provide a lot of information for passengers to get around on their own in the ports of call. The shore exc...

Local Transportation

Most cruise lines do not usually provide a lot of information for passengers to get around on their own in the ports of call. The shore excursion business is too lucrative.

Sometimes you can research options in advance. Sometimes you'll discover them by accident.

For example, we just returned from a Baltic cruise, where we had a stop in Copenhagen. The last time we were there (over 15 years ago), the cruise ship docked within walking distance of many attractions. Now there is a new cruise port out in the middle of nowhere. For those not booked on a high-priced excursion, the cruise line was charging $18 for a shuttle from the port to the downtown area.

Standing on the upper deck, surveying our surroundings, trying to decide what to do for the day, we noticed what looked like a public bus stop just outside the cruise port. A city bus pulled up; people got off and on.

When we disembarked the ship, we walked past the solicitous taxi drivers, Hop On Hop Off bus sales people, and the now-loading ship's shuttle to visit a small Tourist Information office, where we asked about the local bus service. The agent gave us a free map that showed where the various bus lines went. He advised us a two-hour ticket cost 20 DKK, slightly over three U.S. dollars. He was able to sell us the tickets and accepted credit cards, USD, or Euros as well as Danish kroner. So we took the public bus right into the center of town, for a fraction of what the cruise line's shuttle bus would have cost us.

We had a similar experience in Stockholm, where we'd embarked on the cruise two weeks earlier. At the airport, we discovered Flygbussarna, the airport bus that takes you directly to the Central Station for 110 SEK (about $15 USD). We found out you can buy tickets online for 99 SEK (just over $12 USD), so we took advantage of that savings.

At the Central Station, we learned we could catch the Number 1 bus (a couple other lines go there as well) to the Frihamnen cruise port. Tickets are sold in a magazine store inside the railway station, kind of like a tabac in France. A single ride costs 30 SEK (reduced to 20 SEK for over age 65 or under age 20). Since our cruise ship had an overnight stay in Stockholm before we set sail, we opted for the 24-hour ticket (120 SEK regular, 80 SEK reduced--around $10 each). This enabled us to check in, stow our baggage, and then go back out to explore the city. We even went out again the next morning, took a tour of Parliament, and got back on a bus headed for the cruise port before our tickets turned into pumpkins.

It's about a 10-minute walk from the Frihamnen bus stop to the cruise port check-in area, so if you're mobility-challenged or have a lot of luggage, changing buses and schlepping your bags that far might not appeal to you. If there are several people in your party, the cost of a taxi might be less prohibitive (about $100-150 from the international airport to the cruise port; most likely a lot less from Central Station).

But for able-bodied budget travelers like us, the bus adventure suited us just fine. We can find lots better ways to spend our savings.

What money-saving travel tips can you share? I'd love to hear your comments.