Consider the typical bus tour:

They travel by bus

Sitting on a crowded bus for up to eight hours on a long journey can be very tiring.  You are confined to a small space, and cannot move around at all.  There is no dining car, and often when you pull into a roadside cafeteria, long lines are waiting ahead of you.  Restroom stops also slow down the journey and waste your precious time, and they might not stop when you need it the most.  The “scenic view” is dominated by the highway filled with trucks and cars. Buses often get stuck in heavy traffic jams on crowded streets, with many other vehicles competing for your road space, which can produce a lot of stress.

Hotels on the edge, or beyond...

You finally arrive at your hotel after an all-day bus ride, and find that you are still far away from the main attractions of town.  Your tour operator is saving money by putting you in a nondescript hotel on the fringe of the city.  There will be very little to see in your immediate vicinity, so you have to spend money and time on a taxi ride into town, or you just don’t bother, and miss out.  You are practically held hostage in these remote locations, so your tour guide can sell you optional tours.  These hidden expenses quickly increase the price you pay for the trip.  Sometimes these big operators even put you in a hotel that is not in town at all, so you are really out of the picture.  All you are going to see is what the tour operator shows you on a brief bus tour, and that is usually a quick view of highlights through the window, and then off to the next city for more of the same treatment.

Shopping in tourist traps

With the bus tour, during the brief time you have in a place, you are often herded into tourist-trap “factories” and “showrooms” for “bargain” shopping.  You are stuck on the bus, so you are at their mercy.  If the tour bus stops at a souvenir mill, you stop too, and there is usually no other shop nearby except the one they have chosen for you.  Your guide and driver are getting a commission for taking you there, so that’s the place they want you to shop. Often the vendors you deal with in these factory shops have little concern fo personal service.

Quick city tour

At best they might give you a three-hour bus tour, and that’s all.  You are usually in town for only one night, and then leave the next morning, so there is little time for anything else.  If there is any extra time, you will find the tour guide wants to sell you options that take you away from town, and if you don’t buy the option, they set you loose with very little preparation, so you are on your own.  Without proper guidance you might end up wasting time and being unable to find the important sights on your own.  But usually, there is no time, since you are already heading for the next city.  If you get lucky you might have a quick look in one museum, and the little bit of history that you hear is probably delivered in dry lectures on the long bus rides that just

One-night stands

Most bus tours keep you moving all the time.  You arrive in a city late in the day, after driving for many hours, and then you leave in the morning for your next destination.  The standard bus tour operators have devised exhausting itineraries that appear to show you all of Europe in 17 days, but when you analyze them, you are sitting on the bus most of that time!  Unpacking every night, and repacking every morning, you don’t have much time left for sightseeing.  With a bus tour you have precious little free time for you are on the go all the time.  If it’s Tuesday, where are we now?  All too often the quick stream of cities becomes a fuzzy forgettable blur.

Big groups, from everywhere

You really don’t know whom you are going to be traveling with, or how full the bus is going to be.  The bus has up to 55 seats, and they are usually full, with everyone jockeying for position, so you are part of a very big group, with most of the people from every place but Hawaii.  A big anonymous group like that creates a less friendly environment in which people do not care much about each other.  In this case you are just a face lost in the crowd -- and you probably will not get to know many people in the group by name, or ever see them again.

Or, Consider taking a Cruise

While it may be comfortable to stay in one room for your entire trip, and eat all you want, you will find you do not see very much in your limited port excursions. Most of the problems mentioned for the bus tour also apply to cruising. You are herded around in big groups, put on a bus for a quick city tour, then go back to the ship.