On port days when there are no excursions scheduled, we usually tell our clients to stay on board and enjoy a quieter ship with fewer fellow passengers. However, experience shows that there are a few reasons it might be better to get off and enjoy some time in the port.
Safety drills and maintenance
Many cruise lines will use the time in port to perform safety drills. In order to be prepared for emergencies, the crew runs through all the safety procedures when many of the guests are out. It can mean crowded hallways, less crew available to assist guests and frequent overhead announcements.
Maintenance is also something that is done while the ship is in port and it can mean guest areas are roped off or closed for safety. We encountered this when we decided to take a walk on the promenade deck. There were several areas where we had to turn around because it was blocked for maintenance. On our most recent cruise, the crew were replacing some guest room shower doors and they needed access to our room. We didn’t mind relaxing out elsewhere and we found a nice place on deck to hang out. Please note, if ‘do not disturb’ is on, the maintenance crew will respect guest privacy. Even if the location of the maintenance is not a problem, it can be loud if the crew works on areas nearby. For balcony rooms, there is usually a port day where the balconies are cleaned. You should receive a letter in your stateroom to let you know when this will occur.
Fewer Dining Options
Since there are not as many guests to feed, the variety of dining options is usually limited. Main dining will often close a little earlier for breakfast and remain closed until the evening meal. Typically you will find the buffet as your main restaurant with maybe a pizza restaurant as an additional option. On some ships, the buffet hours may not be as long as usual, there may be a bit less food variety and you may find nothing available in the early afternoon when you are craving a snack.
This port day can be a fun time to try some local cuisine and explore the port. We love getting off in Mexico and enjoying fresh guacamole. For some reason, it always tastes better in Mexico!
Shops are closed
Due to port and maritime regulations, the shops on board the ship are closed when a ship is docked in port. You will notice this on embarkation day, but it also occurs each time you arrive in a new port. Consider getting off the ship to explore the local shops for a fun look at the culture. You might even find a unique souvenir! For ships that include a casino, this will also be closed while in port.
Fewer Activities Available
Games, trivia, live music and daily activities will be limited due to lower number of guests during port days. The most common things available on port days will be the pool, a movie outside on the big screen and spa services. The spa is usually open on port days and sometimes you can enjoy some special offers. If you are not the type to hang out at the pool for hours, enjoy a walk down the pier and see what other ships are docked, enjoy the local scenery or maybe get a postcard perfect picture to send to the folks back home.
These are just a few things to consider when you are ready to head out on your next cruise. At Storyline Travel, we want our clients to be prepared so they have an amazing cruise wherever they travel!