There are certain circumstances when a cruise ship MAY wait for you, but in most cases it will not. Here are some tips to avoid being left up the creek without a paddle.
Let’s look at the good, better and best options.
The main reason people tend to veer away from the cruise line packages is down to cost. Booking things separately might save a few quid, but you have to weigh up the true cost if things don’t go to plan.
Drive To The Port The Day Before
If your departure port is within driving distance the best option is to drive to the port the day before. This way you will avoid any traffic delays or breakdown issues. You can arrive the night before, stay in a hotel and be refreshed and de-stressed for embarkation day.
A better option is to arrange a coach transfer with the cruise line on the same day of departure. The coach will be designated for cruise guests. That means if the coach is delayed for any reason, the cruise line is more likely to wait for you. If they are unable to delay departure, the cruise line will make all the arrangements to get you and the other guests to the next port of call. They cover the expenses for any accommodation, transport and meals required until you step foot onboard the ship.
Allow For Delays
If you can’t go the day before or get a coach then at the very least, leave plenty of time for delays. If you are driving yourself on the day of departure and miss the cruise, it will be completely down to you arrange and pay for flights to the next port of call. Also check with your travel insurance provider what is covered otherwise this could be an expensive mistake.
With a fly cruise, it is without doubt the best option to book the cruise line package. This can still be done through a travel agent, you just need to make it clear to them that you want the cruise lines package and not one that they have packaged themselves. It doesn’t mean that it is risky booking a package with another ABTA or ATOL protected operator, it just keeps things super simple. A fly-cruise package usually include an overnight hotel stay the night before the cruise. It should also include transfers from the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the port and the port back to the airport, but clarify this when you get a quote as some cruise lines are different. You can add on extra nights before and after the cruise for an extra cost, if you want to extend your holiday.
Another thing I love about packaging everything with the cruise line is that it is just one set of documents.
A better option is to book a package with an ABTA or ATOL protected operator. They have to stick to certain parameters which will include flying you out the day before and allowing plenty of time to get to the airport when you disembark the ship.
If you absolutely must do your own thing, then the good option again is to fly the day before.
Getting off at the ports is the main cause of passengers missing the ship. This can happen for a variety of reasons but the most common is that guests either lose track of time, or forget that the ship and local time are different. Unforeseen delays such as heavy traffic and even getting lost can contribute to guests missing the ship.
The best option is to book one of the shore excursions offered by the cruise line. Shore excursion staff will keep an eye on the time for you and as there’ll be other passengers on the excursion. In the event that anything should happen, the ship will usually wait or make arrangements to transfer guests to the next port of call.
Some private tours will guarantee to get you back to the ship, although I don’t know how they can do this. If you are doing a fairly local tour and it will get you back to the ship midday giving you 4 more hours until departure, then this is a better option. However, if you are an hour and half or more away from where you want to visit, I would think twice.
A good option and most definitely the cheapest, is to walk around the local town for an hour or so.
Check your travel insurance
Some insurance policies especially the free ones may only give you a basic cover. Check your policy covers you for missing the ship and under which circumstances, so you are not in for a shock later on.
Keep Copies Of Important Documents And Phone Numbers With You
Take photocopies of your passport, and both sides of your driver’s license and credit cards (unless you have the originals with you) when you go ashore. You should also have a copy of the phone numbers for your ship, port agent (printed in your daily onboard schedule) and your cruise line’s customer service department. It’s also worth having the address and phone number of your country’s embassy in the port you’re visiting.
This information will be essential for helping you figure out what to do if you miss your cruise ship.
Ship Time Vs. Port Time
Ship time and local time are often different. Make sure you know exactly what time to be back onboard and if it’s the ship or port time. Get a cheap watch that you can wear in port and keep it in sync with the ship time.
What to Do If You Miss the Ship
Find your port agent
Most cruise lines have port agents stationed in the port area to assist if your ship has left without you. Sometimes the ship’s crew will remove the passengers’ essential items from the ship to leave with the port agents. These officials can help you contact your ship and making travel arrangements.
Make travel arrangements
If you miss the ship, you’ll have to either join it at another port of call or return home. Your cruise line, travel agent or travel insurance provider might be able to help you make the plans; otherwise, you’ll have to make arrangements on your own. Either way, you’ll be responsible for any costs incurred.
Retrieving Your Belongings
The cruise line will ship your belongings home for you which can be expensive.