There are few things more fun than a cruise. For many, it’s the perfect way to see the world and explore new places. However, one thing can spoil your vacation – getting off the ship! Most people spend several days onboard their cruise ship while waiting for disembarkation day. So how long does it take? How do you get off a Norwegian cruise ship?
The 24 hours before you get off your cruise comes with several instructions. That includes everything from when and where to meet and breakfast options for those who land late on Day 2 or luggage rules if they’re going ashore locally instead of returning home directly after port visit number one (PTS). For staff members, it’s also an anxious time because starting our turn-around schedule between one trip and the following means there are only two days left until we reach that magical moment: Disembarkation!
The best part about traveling by sea is having access to land and air transportation. While most passengers enjoy taking planes or trains to reach their destination, some prefer to travel by boat because they can easily explore all the other amenities in port cities.
Cruising offers something a different mode of transport cannot provide – the ability to see multiple destinations quickly at affordable prices. But what happens when you want to go home? What logistics need planning before you even step foot on the vessel?
And once you’re back on dry ground, how easy will it be to navigate customs and immigration procedures? This article answers these questions so you know exactly what to expect before boarding a cruise ship and after returning home.
Disembark From The Port Of Call
Before embarking on any trip anywhere, whether abroad or across town, it pays to understand the local laws and regulations surrounding where you’ll be staying and how to exit the area properly. In this case, we’re discussing disembarking from a cruise ship.
There are two main factors involved here: time and money. First, let’s talk about timing. If you’ve ever been stuck in traffic behind another car (or worse yet, a bus) not moving out of a parking lot, then you know why proper preparation is critical.
Most ships stop in popular tourist ports like Miami, Florida, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and France, among others, during each year-round season. Cruisers who plan can usually save hundreds of dollars if they book excursions directly with the company instead of booking them separately.
Unfortunately, many don’t realize until months into their voyage that they’ll only be spending three nights in St. Tropez but 6 in Nice. Or maybe they thought they could squeeze in 4 nights in Barcelona without realizing that public transit isn’t available between midnight and 5 am. By researching which ports make sense for your itinerary, you give yourself enough wiggle room to adjust accommodations accordingly.
Second, let’s talk about money. Even though most cruise lines offer discounts to passengers willing to buy extras onboard, those savings come off your overall budget and may result in less free time to visit attractions in port cities.
Not to mention that souvenirs bought abroad cost considerably more than locally. Overall, it makes financial sense to purchase items online before departure. This also allows you to avoid being pressured into purchasing extra “extras” just because you didn’t think to look around first.
In short, prepare early. Research often. Make good decisions. Then sit back and relax, knowing everything has been taken care of.
After arriving at your destination, always ask locals for directions when possible.
What You Need Before Getting Off
Once you arrive in a port city, you should check in immediately. Some cruise lines require that you meet up with someone at the pier upon arrival. This person will escort you to shore and help direct you to nearby hotels, restaurants, and tour companies offering excursions.
Others handle all arrangements internally through staff members or kiosks near the gangway. You’ll find plenty of options, including tours, taxi services, shuttle buses, and private charters. Here are a couple of tips that might prove helpful depending on your preferences:
If you opt for a guided tour, try to stick to reputable agencies rather than touts trying to sell you junk. Also, ensure the guides aren’t making false claims, such as claiming they’ll show you the sights when they won’t. Ask lots of questions. Look closely at brochures and websites. Don’t rely solely on verbal promises alone.
Taxis are probably the safest option to skip walking or riding shuttles. Remember that taxis charge higher fares in foreign countries due to taxes, distance rates, and fuel costs. Plus, drivers can be aggressive since they have nothing else to do besides waiting for customers. Be friendly, polite, and ready to tip.
Lastly, consider hiring a personal guide. These professionals provide detailed information on sightseeing spots and are familiar with cultural etiquette rules specific to various regions. Guides generally work for small groups of travelers and use hand signals to communicate with tourists.
Research different firms through Google Maps reviews or forums if you’re interested. Many sites allow users to rate and review potential vendors. At the very least, ask for recommendations from friends and family. Hiring a professional guide saves you time, helps ensure safety, and gives you peace of mind.
Finally, remember to bring cash. Always carry currency notes and coins. Credit cards might work for transactions involving smaller businesses or markets but rarely pay as much as they say they will. Especially in third-world countries, credit card fraud is rampant.
With a little foresight, careful planning, and savvy shopping choices, you can maximize your chances of enjoying your next cruise experience. Now that you’ve got the lay of the land read on to learn how to find a place to stay, eat, drink, and explore ashore.
Getting On & Going With Ease
Onboard food outlets include traditional American fast-food chains, European cuisine, Chinese dishes, Indian foods, and international fare. Restaurants range from casual eateries serving pizza and burgers to full-service dining rooms featuring gourmet meals prepared by chefs using fresh ingredients from markets ashore.
Meals are typically buffet-style; however, specialty menus are sometimes offered for special occasions. Specialty drinks are sold throughout the ship under names like ‘Mai Tai’ and ‘Cosmopolitan.’ Generally speaking, alcoholic beverages are cheaper on board than elsewhere.
Bars and lounges feature live music from jazz to hip hop and nightly entertainment. Poolside bars serve cocktails ranging from rum punches to exotic mixed drinks. Nightclubs open late, providing dancing opportunities for everyone.
Shopping is abundant on board. Duty-free shops are located in front of major piers. Stores selling regional crafts and clothing are scattered throughout the facility. Online retailers display their wares online or in dedicated areas. Check our list of top cruise liners with great duty-free deals [Broken URL Removed] for ideas.
Many cruise ships feature internet cafes and computer labs. Free Wi-Fi is provided in common areas as well as individual cabins. Other vessels supply wireless hotspots allowing guests to connect to cellphones and laptops. Public computers are found throughout the ship enabling visitors to send e-mails or surf the web. Wireless devices are compatible with most systems.
Most major cruise lines operate passenger luggage storage facilities onboard. Storage locations vary according to ship type and destination. Fees range according to size and location, with claim checks performed daily.
For security reasons, passengers cannot enter certain parts of the ship. When necessary, crew members unlock doors leading to restricted areas. Passengers must remain within designated zones unless otherwise authorized.
While cruising, most folks wear comfortable shoes. Sandals, sneakers, high heels, slippers, and boots are acceptable alternatives. Flip-flops are worn for swimming activities. Women should leave jewelry at home, and men should remove expensive watches and necklaces.
When leaving port, be aware of changes in time zones. Depending on the length of your journey, you may lose hours of daylight. Plan and pack appropriate attire for varying weather conditions. Dress warmly for chilly evenings and dress cool for hot summertime.
Pack light jackets, sweaters, and scarves. Wear shades indoors to protect your eyes against sun damage. Bring a hat, sunscreen, moisturizer, sunglasses, and insect repellent. Finally, pack essentials like prescription medicines, photo IDs, passports, tickets, money, and anything else you’d usually pack.
Now that you’ve learned what to expect when disembarking a cruise ship, feel free to search for the perfect destination. Whether you desire beaches, mountains, history, or nightlife, we have a country for every taste.
Learn more about cruises and discover thousands of additional articles and videos on the subject matter. We hope you enjoyed this piece and were able to walk away with valuable knowledge that will put you well on your way toward planning unforgettable vacations. Happy travels!