Shore Tour Savvy: 6 Ways to Beat Bus Boredom

January 27, 2012 | By | 2 Comments

The big attractions in cruise destinations aren’t always near the ports. Or anywhere close. As a result, excursions often begin and end with a long bus ride, which doesn’t always show off the country at its best. A case in point: a five-hour journey going from Hanoi to the port of Hai Phong to join Orion Expedition CruisesOrion II on my recent expedition cruise to Vietnam, crawling along a highway in darkness amidst a line of trucks, with nothing to look at.

But these experiences can be used to your advantage. In Vietnam, I decided to amuse myself by introducing my friend to the game of Angry Birds on my iPad. We were laughing about the ridiculousness of the game, when I heard familiar music to my rear. The people in the seats behind were also playing Angry Birds. More music to the right! So were the people opposite. In fact, most of the back of the bus was playing Angry Birds, which created a fantastic, if surreal, bonding moment. What was funniest was the fact that almost everybody was over 50.
So, short of sleeping, reading, listening to music, playing Angry Birds or I Spy, how do you pass a boring bus journey, when there’s nothing to see and even the tour guide has lost the will to carry on?
  • Make friends with your neighbors. If they’re up for it, of course. On a four-hour bus ride across the Egyptian desert on a different cruise, we had quite a cocktail party vibe going in the back of the bus until another passenger complained that we were keeping them awake.
  • Chat to the guide. Most tour guides welcome the chance to have an intelligent discussion about their country.
  • Do some homework. Study up on where you’re going — this is a good chance to delve into that chunky guidebook that’s otherwise gathering dust in your cabin.
  • Learn a few phrases in the local language. If it’s in a different alphabet, teach yourself the Arabic/Mandarin/Cyrillic letters and try to read the road signs. Hours of fun.
  • Buy some weird local snacks at a rest stop and share them with your fellow passengers – a good ice breaker.
  • Sing. Never recommended unless everybody joins in and a boozy lunch has been consumed. Having said that, the buses on my Vietnam tour were equipped with a karaoke setup, complete with colored disco lights. Now there’s a thought.
  • Have your own bus-tested boredom busters? Share them in the comments.
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      2 Responses to “Shore Tour Savvy: 6 Ways to Beat Bus Boredom”

      1. Cruisin' Cacky
        January 27th, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

        Some of my dearest friends are fellow cruisers I met in the back of the bus! On the ride from Victoria Coach Station to Southampton I ended up sitting with some of the folks from the CC roll call. We were on our way to a wonderful TA cruise heading for Ft Lauderdale. We had so much fun! That ride set the tone for the cruise itself. By the time the two hour ride ended we were pals and have stayed pals!

      2. Brian
        January 27th, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

        If you know ahead of time that you will have a long bus ride, prepare (at home) a packable version of Bingo. Use regular Bingo cards, and make the rest out of paper, including paper scraps to draw out of a cup or bag. Hand out cards and Avery dot stickers, and start calling out numbers (“G-4!”). Give out candy for prizes. You will be the life of the party that you have started!

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