Last updated: 02:13 PM ET, Tue October 20 2015

Cruise Tip: Stay Onboard in Port to Fully Enjoy Ship Attractions

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Jason Leppert | October 19, 2015

Cruise Tip: Stay Onboard in Port to Fully Enjoy Ship Attractions

PHOTO: The pool deck on Carnival Breeze sits nearly abandoned during a port call - no fighting for chairs! (Photo by Jason Leppert)

Cruise travel was once primarily defined by the destination. However, as more and more ships become destinations unto themselves, the best way to experience all of the onboard attractions is to remain on the ship during port days.

It may seem sacrilegious to visit the Caribbean and not even step foot in Grand Cayman, let’s say, but when the bulk of the passengers are shoreside, it’s prime time to enjoy all of those shipboard goodies, the temporarily closed shops and casino notwithstanding. 

Consider the world’s currently largest ship, the Allure of the Seas, and its upwards of 6,000 passengers. On a sea day when every guest is onboard, the vessel does an admirable job of spreading the crowds around a plethora of venues, but it's also the busiest the ship will ever feel, from the buffet to the pools. Anything with a queue will surely come with some sort of a wait.

But come port days, you can nearly have the ship to yourself. If all you want to do is simply read a book, a quiet ship is the most relaxing place for it, regardless of vessel size. More likely though, it’s the popular spots that will draw your attention in port. Waterslides, in particular, are best enjoyed now, and it’s not uncommon to be able to ride them repeatedly with little to no wait. 

Poolside, available deck chairs will be more plentiful, and spa facilities often run specials during this slow time with reduced fares that can be taken advantage of. Frequented eateries are also more easily accessed; grills, pizzerias and ice cream bars included.

Anyone else up for a Johnny Rockets hamburger right about now?

Entertainment options are sparser during the day, but some ships that feature cinemas, like on the Disney Cruise Line fleet, screen first-run films regularly that are also free from mass patronage.

I believe Iron Man is calling.

Of course, if you don’t want to forego ports entirely, the best alternative is to enjoy a half day ashore and a half day onboard. If you do, consider staying on during the morning. Most shore excursions are leaving at that time, and as they end midday to late afternoon, guests will then be returning to the ship.

And you can always pick and choose which port days to forego and which to dedicate your time to. Just don’t expect to be able to get every last ship attraction in without taking some time off from excursions ashore.


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