Just like a really good resort or hotel, a cruise ship is more than simple accommodation. Not only does it move with you to each destination for ultimate convenience, but it also provides entertainment, eateries, activities and plenty of places to relax and enjoy oneself. They are really the complete holiday experience - so much so that many cruisers, especially the seasoned ones, prefer to stay onboard in some ports rather than step off onto dry land.
Why stay onboard?
Why do passengers choose to remain on the ship when it's in port? There are many reasons. Some are aiming for uninterrupted relaxation which can be disturbed by the disembarkation process, particularly in tender ports. Others like to take advantage of the tranquility of the ship when most passengers are out exploring, and yet others have likely already been there, done that (particularly if it's a domestic port on a cruise from Australia) and choose to take a day off from the tourist grind!
There are also added bonuses to staying behind which you might not know about until you've done it. Here are our top tips for making the most of your chilled-out day on the uncrowded ship:
- Enjoy the facilities which get full during sea days and luxuriate in the space! You will have no worries finding a deckchair wherever you wish to sit, the pool will likely be emptier and the gym machines all available. On the big ships, things like rock climbing and skydiving simulators will probably have much shorter lines. Port days really are prime time to make the most of the ship's amenities!
- The spas on the majority of ships will offer great specials during port days to attract customers. Make your day one of absolute relaxation and splash out on a discounted treatment! These can save you a lot of money.
- The buffet will be empty of crowds on a port day. Take the chance to enjoy a leisurely lunch - and it can also be nice to wait for breakfast until most people have departed. Some lines will close the main dining room on days the ship is docked, but if not you could try there for some very personal service!
- If you're anything like me, you like to take photos to remember your holiday. It can be very awkward to get lots of pics with strangers in them, so use the port day when the ship is a bit of a ghost town to document your favourite spots!
- It's not just the spa that offers port day specials on some ships. Often you'll find a happy hour in one or two of the bars - the perfect accompaniment to your leisurely day.
- If you're on a megaship (like the Harmony or Allure of the Seas from Royal Caribbean), it can be hard to really check it out on any cruise less than a week long. Use a port day to get in some exercise walking around and taking it all in with much smaller crowds to get in the way of your exploration.
- Got a balcony cabin? The height of a cruise ship makes an excellent vantage point for people watching onshore. If you're docked in a busy city, you can get a taste of what life is like there from the comfort of your own cabin - who doesn't love to indulge in a little casual and harmless voyeurism?
- Parents, many family-friendly lines keep their kids clubs open on port days. This is generally for parents leaving on line-organised tours, but can also be great for those looking to stay onboard - you won't have to worry about the kids being bored! The staff will often take the group for lunch together on port days too.
So next time you are feeling unenthused about getting off the ship and onto shore, remember you are in no way obliged to disembark! Consider a quiet day spent on the uncrowded ship, with no lines, spa specials galore and plenty of time to relax.
One thing to note is that the casino and shops will be closed on port days. Some activities may close too, so check your newsletter to make sure you will be able to do what you want to do.
Now you're prepared to cruise the way you want to, you'll need to take a look at the many cruises available at great prices on Cruise Sale Finder. Bargain hunters, check out our cheap cruises page and prepare to escape!