Late-arrivers for airline flights can often hop on another plane to their destination with just a few hours later, sometimes even with change fees depending on airline policies. But travelers who are even just a few minutes late for a cruise ship may find their entire trip ruined.
At the very least, cruisers who miss a ship’s departure will face huge expenses and logistical challenges trying to “catch up” with the vessel at its next port of call. In some cases, due to laws that restrict where ships can be boarded, they might not be able to join the vessel at all.
In reality, missing a cruise ship is a very rare occurrence but we still don’t want this happening to anyone. Here are some precautions you can take to make sure you don’t miss your cruise ship.
Know your ship’s “all aboard” time
The most important information you need to know before you leave the ship for the day is, “What time do I need to be back?”
Do not rely on the original cruise itineraries as there may have been changed. Instead, check your daily planner, which is often delivered to your cabin the previous evening. Do this in the morning before you leave the ship.
Also, look for the sign on the gangway as you depart the ship. Cruise ships will often post a sign that shows the “all aboard” time as you are leaving the ship. Look for the sign and confirm your information.
Know the “Ship’s Time”
Cruise ships will sometimes cross from one time-zone to another. Your cruise ship may have all passengers change the time back or forward an hour to match an upcoming cruise port. The cruise ship will notify you in the daily planner or may leave a printed note in your cabin. Also, the Cruise Director may mention this in a daily announcement as well.
However, time-zone changes can get confusing and can result in people getting a bit mixed up. I keep my Apple iPhone set to automatically update for time-zone changes. If that can’t be done, follow these instructions to manually adjust the time-zone.
You may also want to consider purchasing an inexpensive watch; I trust Timex because they are easy to adjust and they really to “take a linking and keep on ticking”.
Book a cruise line excursion
This is really the easiest solution. Booking a cruise ship excursion may cost a little more, but they have a guarantee that the ship will wait for you if your excursion is late returning to the ship.
This is something you should seriously consider if you’re planning on going on a long excursion or if you have to take ferries and buses to get back to the ship. If an attraction is very far from the ship, it does make it harder to return if there’s traffic or a bus breaks down. I have had at least one hair-raising experience with a cab driver careening through St. Thomas to get me back to the ship on time – I don’t want to do that ever again.
Use caution when planning your own excursion
Sometimes there are beaches close by to the cruise port and you can take a cab or shuttle inexpensively. Other times there may be a tour you really want to do in a smaller group, and the idea of riding on a coach bus with a bunch of other people isn’t your ideal way of traveling.
So, to make sure you’re back in time, do a little research to find out the best and most recommended things to do in your destinations. Start with the cruise line offerings, as they give a broad idea of the most popular things to do in a cruise port.
Once you’ve established what you most intrigues you, if it’s close by or if it can be done in a half day, do your excursion in the morning.
What we like to do is plan our day so that we leave in the morning and then come back to or close to the ship. After a late lunch, we then spend the afternoon in port and do some shopping near the ship.
Plan to be back early
If you’re not with on cruise line excursion, plan your day so that you are back about 2 hours before your ship departs or all aboard time. By leaving yourself ample time, you won’t be in a panic if there’s some traffic or if your taxi is late picking you up.