In Part One of this column, I considered a question asked by many of you over the years: “Is it worth it to book fishing trips as a part of shore excursions while cruising?”
After recounting my own recent experience in Mexico that had its ups and downs (waves action) to be sure, let’s take a look at how to identify which fishing excursions while cruising can be worth the effort.
Make no mistake, I don’t pretend to know about all cruising destinations that offer realistic opportunities to catch fish. However, the way in which you research and determine the potential opportunities could certainly be applied to wherever you cruise.
The first and by far the most important considerations are: When are you in port? When may you disembark and re-board the ship? And, how many hours you will have available as free time? If the cruise ship will arrive mid-morning and leave early evening, there most likely wouldn’t be sufficient time to locate (on a map) the charter service, get to the dock, have enough time to fish in “prime fishing time” and get back to the ship.
In my experience, if you don’t have eight hours or more ashore, and if those hours don’t begin until after 8 a.m., it would most likely be a struggle to book a trip. There are, however, exceptions to that rule. If the cruise line were arranging fishing trips, and the areas to which you are cruising were well known for excellent fishing opportunities, then your decision could come down to a cost/benefit analysis.
For example, Alaskan cruises (I am told) provide opportunities to book day trips on fishing boats to catch halibut, salmon, or bottom fish such as ling cod. On the surface that sounds pretty inviting, but if you were to ask the cruise line to provide statistics on how many fish (on average) are caught during the day, week and month of your cruise (in the past), you could quite easily determine if the potential to catch fish is worth the expense of the trip.
In Mexico, we booked a six-person trip that ran $500 dollars total, including the tip. So, for around 80 dollars person we got to catch fish, see the port city from the water, encounter schools of dolphins, watch sea lions and seals catch and eat fish, and the children were able to help the captain steer the boat.
When you consider that most shore excursions cost between $50 and $150 dollars per person on most cruise lines, this is a relatively small price to pay to enjoy a day of fishing in exotic waters.
Other things to consider when booking fishing trips are: Can they accommodate children (smaller rods, reels, and equipment)? Will the trip take you into rough seas (open water instead of protected bays and inlets)? And, can all those who book the trip be able to fish at the same time? In other words, are there only a couple of lines out and do the anglers take turns reeling in the fish? For some, this wouldn’t be a problem but for others it would be a deal breaker.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask what part of the day is best to be fishing during the time you are in port. If the tides are wrong then your fishing opportunity might be severely diminished whereas if the timing were better you may have the time of your life.
Fishing while cruising can and ought to be a consideration for any and all anglers that cruise. If viewed as part of the overall “cruising experience” the costs aren’t significantly more than run-of-the-mill shore excursions. And, in my opinion, fishing is much more than a “run-of-the-mill” experience.
Do your research, ask questions, and truly listen to the answers. If you are satisfied, understand the risks (of not catching fish and getting sea sick), and are comfortable with the costs, by all means BOOK A TRIP.