Are you going on a cruise? It’s always a good idea to do your research so you familiarize yourself with the do’s and don’ts in cruise ports of call. You don’t want to get in harm’s way. Here are things to never do in cruise ports so your vacation goes smoothly and safely.
Things to Never Do in Cruise Ports of Call
1. Don’t Assume there Will Always be Taxis
It’s not a good idea to assume that you can easily hail a taxi or an Uber at the port. In some smaller ports, finding taxis can be difficult, which can lead to trouble.
For example, during our British Isle Cruise, we docked at Cobh, which is a small town close to Cork and the Blarney Castle. We wanted to save some money, so we decided to get a cab to and from Blarney Castle instead of using the cruise shore excursion. We were able to get a taxi to Blarney Castle, but when it was time to come back to the ship, we couldn’t find any taxis.
Uber kept canceling on us because there weren’t enough drivers available in the small town. I started to panic, but fortunately, we were eventually able to get an Uber back to the ship.
However, if we hadn’t been able to get a ride, we would have been stranded at Blarney Castle, which was 38 minutes from the cruise port. This would have made us miss the ship! To be safe, it’s better to book a shore excursion from the cruise or through an independent tour operator like viator.
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2. Wear Your Cruise Lanyard
One of the things you should never do in the cruise port is to wear your cruise lanyard ashore. It can make you stand out as a tourist when you are off the ship.
When you are out ashore sightseeing, shopping or at the beach, don’t wear your cruise lanyard. You will immediately look like a tourist and become a target for thieves and pickpocketers.
I suggest keeping a low profile when you are on shore. You can store your keycard and other valuables in a secure pocket or bag. This way, you can avoid drawing attention to yourself and enjoy your shore excursion without any trouble.
3. Miss the Ship
Similar to airplanes, cruise ships will not wait for you. If you miss the “all aboard time” you will have to find another way to get back on the ship by meeting your cruise at the next port! It’s a hassle and can be very stressful!
That is why when disembarking from the ship, it’s important to always check what time you need to be back on board. You can usually find the “all aboard” time in the daily planner and it will posted on a sign at the gangway.
If you are forgetful, take a picture of the “all aboard time” sign and set an alarm on your phone. Also, make sure to check that your watch has the correct time since time zones can change.
If you need to take a tender boat to the port, make sure you allocate enough time for it. Find out when the last tender departure time is, there is usually a sign near the tender gangway.
4. Bringing Shells Back on Board
It’s important to remember that seashells, corals, flowers, plants, and even leaves are not allowed to be brought back to the cruise ship. Although it can be tempting to collect these items during your shore excursions, many cruise lines prohibit their guests from bringing them back onboard.
For example, during a Caribbean cruise with my then 3-year-old son, he found a large leaf (as big as his head) on a beach in Dominica and wanted to bring it back to the ship. Unfortunately, the ship’s security wouldn’t allow it, and despite his tears, they couldn’t make an exception.
5. Forgetting Your Shore Excursion Ticket
In this day and age of e-tickets, shore tickets excursions are still printed on paper. Make sure you bring your tickets with you when you get off the ship to join your shore excursion. Whether it’s a cruise shore excursion or an independent tour, it’s safest if you have your tickets as proof. It will be a real hassle to have to go back to your cabin to retrieve your shore excursion tickets.
6. Not Checking the Travel Advisory
You should always check with the US Department of State for the latest travel advisory of the places you are going to. Don’t assume that every port is safe. For example, the US Department of State has recently raised the advisory level for the Bahamas to Level 2 due to crime and water safety issues. Read about the new travel advisory: Beware Bahamas Travel Advisory Increases
If you’re going to a port where there is a travel advisory, just take extra precautions. Even in Europe where it’s common to fall victim to pickpocketers! I suggest using slash-proof bags like this anti-theft cross body bag because the strap and bag are slash-resistant and there is also RFID blocking so your card information is safe from identity thieves.
7. Wear Expensive Jewelry & Designer Bags
Avoid attracting unwanted attention from potential thieves at the port. You don’t want to be a target! I suggest leaving your expensive jewelry and designer bags at home.
Instead, you can bring some inexpensive accessories that match your outfits. This way, you can still look stylish and have fun without worrying about your belongings. It’s worth the peace of mind!
8. Leave Your Passport in Your Cabin
Always bring your passport down with you to the port. Don’t leave it in your cabin. Even though you can get in and out of the ship with your cruise card, you will still need your passport at the port. Some cruise ports will ask you to show your passport and/or cruise card to get back on the ship. It’s also a good idea to have your passport with you just in case you miss the ship and you have to fly to another cruise port to get back on the ship.
9. Drink too Much
One thing to never do at cruise ports is to drink too much. Many cruise ports, especially, the Caribbean cruise ports are surrounded by bars. Some shore excursions are party boats with unlimited alcoholic beverages.
Although it may be tempting to spend the day drinking at popular places like Senor Froggy’s, it’s important to be careful. Drinking alcohol while being exposed to the sun can be a dangerous combination. Just be careful, because you don’t want to get too drunk that you miss the ship!
Looking to save money on your cruise? 21 Smart and Easy Ways to Save Money on a Cruise
10. Wing It if You are a Big Group
If you’re traveling with a large group, the last thing you want is to be stranded at the cruise port, unable to find transportation and wandering around aimlessly. It can be challenging to find taxis that can accommodate a big group, since you will need a van or multiple taxis.
To avoid this, it’s always a good idea to pre-book shore excursions, either through the cruise or with independent tour operators. If you’re a large group, you should consider booking a private tour, since these offer a more personalized experience and allow you to explore destinations at your own pace.
Plus, private tours may end up being the same price or even less expensive than the cruise shore excursions. A great platform to book tours is with viator.
Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables
Check out: When to Book a Cruise to Get the Best Deal