I’ve enjoyed a few cruises over the years, all on Royal Caribbean to the Caribbean and Mexico. My husband and I enjoyed the ease of cruising, the great food, and the unique places to explore. We also took our adult daughters with us on a three-night cruise to the Bahamas and they love it and are asking when we can go again. Three nights was not long enough to enjoy all the amenities of the ship.
One of our favorite parts was the off-ship excursions. All cruise lines offer different ports of call. We’ve enjoyed bicycling in Cozumel, snorkeling in St. Martin, and just being beach bums on CocoCay. However, what happens if you miss returning to your ship while you’re out exploring? Buck Banks from NewmanPR represents Holland America and Costa Cruises and shares a few things to know.
1. Set Your Watch To Ship Time
This sounds simple enough but it can make a huge difference in making it back in time. Banks suggests setting your watch to the ship’s time, not local time. Ship time does depend on a few factors.
If you’re taking a transatlantic cruise, you would cross three time zones. Banks says since it’s a one-way trip, the captain would change ship time to match the time zone, so when they arrive, they are in the correct time and time zone.
A roundtrip sailing in the Caribbean might be a little trickier. You can experience up to three time zones. Banks says the captain will likely keep the ship’s time the same as the time zone of departure and not change it with each time zone. Now, you can run into a problem when your smart devices automatically change time when you cross zones. Hence, why it is important to note the ship’s time.
Pro Tip: Banks also adds that it is up to the discretion of the captain to decide what ship’s time is, so it’s always best to check the ship’s clocks or the app.
2. Stick To Cruise Line Excursions
Typically, if you are on a shore excursion sold by the cruise line, the ship will wait for your return. However, if you’re off on your own and lose track of time or get separated from the excursion and miss the last tender to the ship or the departure time, it’s on you to get back to the ship.
3. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Banks suggests giving yourself plenty of time to return to the ship. There are a lot of variables to take into consideration. You will want to know the layout of the port in relation to the ship. If you’re far away from the ship enjoying the port, you might need to engage a taxi or catch a tram. Also, some approaches to the ship can involve a long walk on the dock or having to navigate shopping areas that are designed to make you stop and shop. You’ll also want to note the time the last tender is scheduled to depart for the ship.
4. Keep Port Agent Number Handy
Banks said cruise lines usually provide a phone number for the port agent in each port, either on the excursion ticket, on the daily schedule, or their app. The port agent can assist with the next steps, which depend largely on where the ship is headed. It could be as simple as taking a flight or even a car to the next port of call and rejoining the cruise. However, in this day and age, that could be complicated by COVID-19 or visa entry requirements.
Pro Tip: Banks said a port agent in Ensenada, Mexico, told him that if you are a U.S. citizen and miss the ship there, they will drive you to the border crossing and from there you are on your own.
5. You Pick Up The Costs
In any event, if you miss the ship, any lodging or travel costs are on you according to Banks. The cruise line is not responsible, though typically they are accommodating when facilitating guests rejoining their cruise.
Banks says the best thing to do to enjoy your excursion is to pay attention. Losing track of time could turn a wonderful vacation into a nightmare.