Arrival in Kuşadası — Be Independent or Go on a Tour Bus

At each port you have three options: hop on an awaiting tour bus to enjoy the guided excursion you purchased from the cruise line; meet a private guide at the port who you arranged for on your own; or walk boldly into the unknown — guidebook in hand — and be your own guide.  (Our new Mediterranean Cruise Ports guidebook is designed to be helpful to people going on any of these options.) On this cruise, I met an enthusiastic group on board who connected via, an online chat group. They organized various on-shore activities completely independent from the cruise line (such as arranging for a guide to meet them with a minibus here in Kuşadası) and were thrilled with the experience. is a wildly popular resource among cruisers for feedback on independent guides who connect with travelers at ports.

If you can’t see the video below, watch it on YouTube.


6 Replies to “Arrival in Kuşadası — Be Independent or Go on a Tour Bus”

  1. Most people on are skewed toward luxury travel so their travel style and personal tastes differ from mine. If you understand that, cruise critic is a great source of information about ships, ports, excursions, etc.

    The site also has a “roll-call” section for people taking a specific cruise. I didn’t join the group for the tours organized by an ambitious member, but I did attend an onboard reception early in the cruise.

    I ran into an American family at Kronborg in Denmark prior to our cruise. After introducing ourselves I realized I “knew” them from the cruise critic site.

  2. I don’t think you can ever have enough information when you are spending your hard earned money (or somebody else’s – children and grandchildren) so rick steves new guide books about ports for cruise customers should be moderately successful (i would stick to my knitting personally if i owned a successful ground tour business). But all in business need vision tempered by realism plus high level execution so RS is obviously listening to his employees. You can indeed make independent port tour arrangements but there is no Angie’s List for cruises so: make sure you are heavily insured; and make certain you get back to the boat on time. ((And if you worked for the CIA, stick to the states.))

  3. Really enjoying the cruise blog. I am someone who has been using the RS “Bible” for all European travel. Took the Scandinavia book on a Baltic cruise, and did a mix of ship-offered shore excursions, as well as independent “Rick Tours”. Worked beautifully. I have bought the new cruise book (hooray – great idea!) for my Med cruise in May. Most guide books tell you all about the sights, but Rick includes, for example, how to actually get from A to B, the nitty-gritty of transferring from port to station or downtown. I hate to mention this, but we do have an aging demographic….maybe Rick has noticed? Good on ya!

  4. I have found that Cruise Critic members run the gamut from those who stay in the penthouse suite to those who book only inside staterooms so that they can take multiple cruises per year rather than only one or two. My husband and I will be sailing on the Equinox November 18, her last tour of the Eastern Mediterranean before heading transatlantic to Ft. Lauderdale to cruise the winter season in the Caribbean. We will be on the transatlantic cruise, as well. We have arranged for a private small-group tour of Ephesus in a minivan with a local guide. We have not tried this option before, so I am eager to give it a go. We have always taken the ship’s tours in the past, or struck out on our own. I am really enjoying Rick’s blog and video snippets. I hope to read/see more of what he encountered in Kusadasi/Ephesus.

  5. Twice, I’ve done my own independent travel getting from Kusadasi to Ephesus. When you get off the ship and into the secure area of the dock you should make your way outside. Don’t bother to ask anyone where you can catch a bus to Ephesus, everyone will tell you that there are no busses, only taxis. Walk into town, away from the ship. When you get away from the dock area you can ask any of the locals where to catch the bus to Ephesus, all of these people will tell you (in spite of the language barrier). After a several minute walk you will get to the area to board a 12-or-so passenger van. This will take you to Ephesus on good roads. You’ll be let off near the ruins and have a short walk to one of the entrances. I don’t remember how long the trip is, maybe 30 minutes, with nice scenery. The cost was the equivalent of a few dollars each way. It’s very easy, and safe. My fellow passengers have been a mix of vacationers from around the world.

  6. You make very valid points, Rick. How many of the Ephesus tour groups returned knowing that the port is not Coo-sah-DAH-see but is Coo-SHUD-a-zee, or what young Turks think of Kemal Ataturk. I was enthralled by Ephesus, especially the terrace houses, but time was so short and I would have also liked to know how the life of women in Turkey is changing or how relations with Israel are shifting. You cannot do that in 4 hours as one of 45 on a large bus, so by cruising you end up with a brief view, I emphasise ‘brief’, of someone’s judgement of ‘what to do in Turkey today’.

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