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 cruisecritic.com, 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. Cruisecritic.com 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.