Unless you are cruising the Atlantic or perhaps on a cruise without a destination, then your ship will of course spend time in port.
So that each cruise line can have differing and attractive itineraries to attract and encourage new passengers to travel with them, they will attempt to include a vast variety of activities ranging from surfing to day visit to the culture capital cities of the world.
Once you have arrived aboard your ship, unpacked and gotten the lay of the ship worked out, you will no doubt find that the cruise liner, as a means of transport is about as carefree and relaxing as you would have imagined. You will be travelling between destinations in luxury and even though life about a modern cruise liner is the epitome of relaxation, visiting the ports and places that the ship will be calling at is an intriguing opportunity to investigate and explore new surroundings and cultures.
Spending Time in Port
If as a cruise passenger, you are interested in spending as much time in port as you can, then making sure you select the right itinerary for you is important. This clearly involves looking at the schedules of the cruises and identifying which ports the ships will visit as well as how long the stay will be. This is especially important if you have something specific you want to see on your European cruise, for example in Rome or Venice.
With a ship arriving in port at roughly 8am in the morning, passengers will be able to leave the ship within half an hour, once the finalities of docking have been seen to, this will include something sometimes called ‘clearing’. This is the process whereby before passengers are allowed ashore, the local officials will come aboard to inspect the ships paperwork and perhaps examine some passenger’s passports to ensure everything is in order. Depending on circumstances this may be quite quick are take longer if for example passengers who have specific immigration requirements do not present themselves promptly.
Sometime cruise liners will not actually dock at certain port, perhaps the waters are too shallow or the dock too small, in this case a boat called a Tender will take passengers ashore, generally those with pre-booked shore excursions with the cruise line will get priority and everyone else will be on a first come first served basis usually using a ticketing system.
One thing to bear in mind is the most cruises will require its passengers back aboard at least half an hour before departing, so for a typical 8am until 4pm day this will give you seven hours or so to fit everything in. This is where planning comes in handy.
Some places a quite small, however places such as Venice in Italy are too large to explore in one day, so making sure you know what you want to see in advance is an advantage (this includes using a few maps to figure out how you will get to each place). Alternatively this is where a pre-planned cruise line arranged excursion has the advantages, its all done for you so you don’t need to worry about missing out.
Some ports of call will be overnight stays, in this case the ship will not arrive and leave in one day bit will dock overnight. This means that you will get the excellent opportunity to dine ashore, rather than aboard ship if you so prefer. Also it means that you can explore further inland, for example if you were docking a Spanish port such as Barcelona or Valencia.
With so many different shore excursions on offer from the cruise lines, especially for European cruise operators, shore excursions are something that should be part of any cruise vacation.