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7 Cruise Mistakes That Will Leave You Stranded at the Cruise Port

Getting left behind by your cruise ship is a nightmare scenario that nobody wants to experience. Recently, some Norwegian cruise passengers, including elderly and a pregnant woman, were left stranded on an African island off Nigeria with no medication or money. They had to chase after the cruise ship by traveling through seven countries, just to rejoin it! Don’t let that happen to you, avoid making these mistakes that can cause you to miss the cruise ship.  

Cruise Mistakes That Can Make You Miss Your Ship

1. Cutting it Too Close

One of the common mistakes people make while exploring on their own during a cruise is not leaving enough time to get back to the ship. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to return to the cruise ship. 

Especially if you’re exploring on your own and not on a tour, it’s easy to assume that the time it takes to get to the tourist attraction will be the same as the time it takes to get back. 

But that is usually not the case. Coming back to the cruise ship usually takes longer due to more traffic congestion in the afternoon and finding a taxi can take longer when other cruise passengers are doing the same. 

That’s exactly what happened to me in Nassau when I spent the day at Atlantis. The taxi ride there was smooth and fast, but on the way back, I encountered heavy traffic on the bridge back to the Nassau cruise port. It was really stressful and I really thought I would miss the ship. Thankfully we made it in time! 

It’s always a good idea to give yourself more time than you think to get back to the ship. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the time it takes to return, or you might end up missing the ship.

Mistakes to Leave You Stranded at the Cruise Port

2. Not Doing Enough Research

One common mistake that can cause cruise passengers to miss their ship is not doing enough research. I learned this lesson the hard way on a British Isle cruise. 

I didn’t do any research and just assumed that we could easily take a taxi to Blarney Castle on our own. But when we arrived at the port, we quickly realized that it was a small town with very few taxis. We managed to catch a taxi to the castle, but when it was time to head back to the ship, we found ourselves in a tricky situation. 

There were no taxis at Blarney Castle. Uber kept canceling our request because there weren’t enough drivers in the area. We were stuck at the castle for over an hour, trying Uber again and again, and I began to worry that we might be stranded. The castle was a 40 minute drive from the cruise port, and we didn’t know what to do. 

We finally devised a plan to take the local bus to Cork and then a train back to the cruise ship, but we had no idea how long that would take. Fortunately, we were able to get an Uber just in time to make it back to the ship. It was a close call! Learn from my mistake, always do your research before you explore a port on your own.

3. Flying in on the Day of Departure

One mistake that cruisers often make is flying in on the day of departure, which can be a risky move. You never know if your flight will get delayed or if you’ll encounter issues getting from the airport to the cruise port. 

Unfortunately, this is precisely what happened to some Princess Cruise Passengers who missed their ship by 20 minutes. They were seen on TikTok crying at the pier, as their flight had been delayed, causing them to miss their cruise. 

To avoid this, it’s best to arrive at the cruise port the night before and spend the night at a hotel, so you don’t risk getting left behind by the cruise ship.

4. Booking a Late Tour

It’s common for cruisers to make the mistake of booking a tour that returns too late. If you’re planning to go on a shore excursion that’s not organized by the cruise line, it’s important that you give yourself plenty of time in case of any delay. 

Whenever I book with an independent tour operator, I always choose an early morning tour that ends a few hours before the all-aboard time. So even if there is a delay, I’ll still have enough time to get back to the ship. 

Unfortunately, the worst happened to the cruise passengers who were stranded on the African island; they returned from their independent tour at 4 pm, an hour after the all-aboard time of 3 pm.

If you can’t find an independent tour that ends early enough, you should either skip the tour or book a shore excursion through the cruise line to guarantee that you won’t be left behind.

5. Not Knowing There Is a Time Change

One common mistake that many people make while on a cruise is failing to account for the time change. This is a costly mistake that can cause you to be left behind!

Even a mere one-hour time difference can cause you to miss the ship if you don’t make it back on board in time. That’s why, it’s always a good idea to verify the time with the cruise staff before disembarking and make sure that your watch or phone is set to the correct time.

Mistakes to Leave You Stranded at the Cruise Port

6. Not Paying Attention to the All Aboard Time

The all-aboard time for Cruise ships is strictly enforced. When you get off the gangway, there is usually a sign that displays the cruise ship’s all-aboard time. 

I suggest taking a picture of that sign so you don’t forget exactly what time you have to be back on the ship. Also, set an alarm on your phone to make sure you make your way back in time. 

7. Drinking Too Much

One common mistake that some cruisers make and that can cause them to be left behind by the ship is drinking too much. This is more common on “party boats” during spring break when the crowd tends to be younger. When you get intoxicated, you lose track of time, which can cause you to miss the ship! 

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Cruise Toiletry Bag and First Aid Kit Packing List

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