Going Ashore – Spending time in Port

Going Ashore

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.

European Shore Excursions

Cruise day trips explained

Whenever you take a cruise, there should always be something relaxing, exciting or just interesting to do. For the time that you will be spending on board ship there will usually be entertainments provided and plenty of restaurants and bars to visit, but don’t forget that this is only a small part of any cruise experience.

Shore excursions are what any European cruise vacation has as a major advantage over visiting one single destination as you would be when visiting a hotel. Most cruises will have stopping points along the way and this therefore gives you a great opportunity to visit some of the places and porta that the ship docks at.

Most of these type of shore excursions can be pre-booked when you initially choose your cruise package with your tour operator, don’t forget to make use of their advice too as they will be able to tell you about some of the places and some of the excursions that will be happening along the way so you can make the best informed choice as the which excursions you think you would most like to take.

All of the tour operators and cruise lines will have different itineraries for what the shore excursions might include so you should make sure you read up on all the details so that you know exactly what to expect from your day trips. Take this chance to see if there are any extra costs involved because some excursions may require you to may a bit extra, this might influence your choice of trips if you are on a budget.

Sometimes you will also be able to arrange a shore trip with a local operator based at the destination that you are stopping at, usually someone from the cruise line aboard ship will be a recommend local tours that you can trust and use with confidence.

If you are planning on arranging your own day trips on your cruise it is very important that you make sure you know what time you are expected back aboard ship, usually this is around the 5pm mark, but it is worthwhile checking before you leave for the day. Also make sure you have local currency otherwise you may not be able to get any little extras like coffee or souvenirs.

So there is some good advice on planning a shore excursion for your cruise, making sure you are well prepared is always a good idea and will mean that you can explore the European cities and other destinations that you will be stopping off at and getting the most value and enjoyment from your cruise.