Watching YouTube videos of passengers running down the dock chasing a departing cruise ship can be a fun diversion. Unfortunately, for those involved it is an all too real occurrence that happens much more often than it should. Missing a ship’s departure during an onshore stopover can lead to all sorts of complications and additional expense. In order to avoid your dream vacation turning into a nightmare there are a range of protective measures you can put in place so you don’t become the one left behind waving wildly as your ship sails off into the sunset.
Make sure you know the departure time
When your ship arrives in port a public announcement will be made notifying all passengers about the opportunity to go ashore and explore the surroundings. This announcement will also include the time when you are expected back onboard. If you are unsure or were distracted during the announcement, ask a crew member and check your travel schedule. Times sometimes change from those on your booking documents or itinerary, so it’s important to know exactly what time you are expected back before you leave the ship and head into town.
Allocate extra time for unexpected delays
There are some occurrences during an onshore excursion that mimic your hometown ways. Buses sometimes don’t show up or run late. Traffic snarls create delays. Lines form in supermarkets and shops. It’s business as usual, even while on vacation, so factor in a time cushion and avoid the anxiety of rushing against all odds back to the ship.
Coordinate shore excursions while on the ship
You may be travelling to a much anticipated destination, and eager to experience a sight that is some distance away from the port. Going it alone could lead to the above mentioned delays, or even result in you becoming lost or disorientated in strange surroundings. By booking the cruise line’s shore excursion the ship will wait for your group if there are delays. You will also have the advantage of an experienced and knowledgeable guide to steer you through any confusing scenarios.
Keep some identification with you
It’s extremely important when travelling overseas to carry some form of identification with you. Being stranded is difficult enough, so imagine the complications if you have nothing with you to prove your identity, especially if you are visiting a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. You may be left behind and willing to take a flight to catch up with the ship at the next port, but you won’t be allowed on the plane without your passport, especially if the next port requires an international transfer.
Carry a credit card
If your book your flight to the cruise departure city as part of your cruise booking, and your flight is delayed, your cruise will wait for you before departing. Missing the ship mid-cruise is another story, and the cruise line won’t be financially obligated to get you to the next port. Make sure you have a credit card with sufficient funds to organise a connecting flight, hotel stay and meals in the event you are late back to the ship.
Keep your itinerary and important documents handy
Unless you have a photographic memory, you won’t remember all the exact port arrival and departure times during your cruise. Take a print-out of your itinerary with you whenever you leave the ship to go onshore. The ship’s schedule also contains important information, including contact details of the port agent for the cruise line, who will be able to provide detailed information regarding your cruise.
Don’t panic: take sensible steps to rejoin the cruise
Sometimes, despite all good intentions a passenger misses their departure mid-cruise. This is no time to get angry or upset as your judgement may become clouded, resulting in wrong choices. The first step is to talk to port agents at the cruise terminal and devise a strategy to rejoin your cruise. It may seem like the end of the world at the time, but with appropriate measures taken you will be back onboard at the next port, enjoying the remainder of the cruise, and sharing your story with friends and family.