Woman with Cruise Ships

Everything You Need to Know About Getting Left Behind by Your Cruise Ship (Free Emergency Printables)

Missing your ship is a nightmare cruise vacation scenario! We’ve all seen it on social media or read about it in the news- passengers have been stranded on a remote African island or missed their ship by just 20 minutes. But have you ever wondered what actually happens when you ship leaves you behind? Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do in the event that you get left behind by your cruise ship.

If You’re Running Late

Alert the Ship

If you know you’re running late, you should let your cruise ship know. While there’s no guarantee that they will wait for you, they may decide to hold the ship if there are several other passengers in your group who are also running late. You can either reach out to the port agent directly to let them know that you’re running behind or contact the cruise line’s customer service number for assistance. 

What to Do If You Get Left Behind by Cruise

What to Do If You Miss Your Cruise Ship

Let the Port Agent Know You Missed the Ship

The first thing you need to do when you get left behind by your cruise ship is to call your port agent. Every cruise port has a designated port agent, whose job is to assist cruise passengers in situations like this. 

The port agent’s phone number and contact information are on the daily planner or the cruise port map provided by the cruise ship. Usually, the cruise staff will give the port agent your passport, medication, cellphones, and other essentials that you have left behind in your cabin, so you have them with you ashore. 

So, as soon as you realize you’ve been left behind, call your port agent for help. Let them know you’re stranded in the cruise port, and they’ll guide you through the next steps and help you catch up with the ship’s itinerary so you can rejoin your cruise.

What If You Don’t Have Your Port Agent’s Phone Number

If you don’t have your port agent’s phone number, you should contact the cruise line’s customer service. Explain your situation to them and ask for their assistance in determining the next steps you need to take to rejoin your cruise.

What If You Have No ID and Low on Cash

If you are stranded at the cruise port without identification and running low on cash or with no cash at all, don’t panic. Just contact your country’s Embassy for assistance. 

You can either give them a call or take a cab to their office, provided it’s within the regular weekday working hours. They will help you figure out what to do next. 

Make Travel Arrangements

After making all the phone calls, your next step is to arrange for your travel so that you can catch up with your cruise ship at the next port of call. It’s best to call your travel agent if you use one. 

Stay in close contact with the port agent to stay updated on the cruise itinerary and to figure out the requirements for travel visas and other travel necessities.

You should know that all the expenses incurred to catch up with the cruise ship will be paid for by you. If you have travel insurance, make sure to keep all the receipts so that you can file a claim later. Use the travel insurance expense tracker that I have below that you can print and bring to your cruise.

Also, keep in mind that you may experience a situation where you finally reach the next cruise port only to find out that the cruise ship is not docking there due to bad weather. This is exactly what happened to the Norwegian cruise passengers who traveled for 48 hours and arrived at the next port of call only to discover that their cruise ship was not docking because of adverse weather conditions!

What to Do If You Get Left Behind by Cruise

What If You Just Want to Go Back Home?

If you decide not to rejoin your cruise ship and decide to go back home instead, you should let the cruise line know and tell your port agent. You need to coordinate getting your things that are still in your cabin back home. 

The cruise line can pack them up for you and have them shipped back home, but you’ll be responsible for the shipping costs (which can be expensive!)

How to Prepare for the Unlikely Event of Being Left Behind By the Cruise Ship

When you go ashore during your cruise vacation, you should always be prepared for the unexpected possibility of being left behind by your ship. If you have a plan in place, it will be much easier for you to handle the situation and make necessary phone calls and travel arrangements. To help you prepare, I have created a list of essential items to bring with you. You can also download my free Emergency Contact form that you can fill out and take with you on your trip for added peace of mind.


It’s important to bring all of your identification, including your passports when you leave the cruise ship. Don’t leave them in your cruise cabin. You should also bring your green card and any other travel documents you might need for air travel to another country. 

Credit Cards

Make sure to bring all your credit cards with you when you go ashore. Don’t leave them in your cruise cabin. If you get stranded at the port, you will need your credit card to pay for your plane tickets, hotel, food, and other expenses.  

At a minimum, bring a photocopy or photo of your credit card with you. This way, you can still use it in case you find yourself stranded at the cruise port.


It’s a good idea to bring your prescription medication with you in case you become stranded at the port.

Port Agent Number

It’s important to have the port agent’s contact information every time you go ashore. You can find this information in the cruise daily planner or the cruise port map that they hand out on the ship. Take a picture of the information, write it down, or use the Emergency contact form below to jot down the port agent’s phone number.

Cruise Line’s Customer Service Number

It’s always a good idea to have your cruise line’s customer service number. That way, you can easily access it in case you need it during your trip.


It’s always a good idea to write down the phone number and address of your country’s embassy at each cruise port you are visiting. Having this information will make things a lot easier for you in case you get left behind. If you’re using my emergency contact form, print out a form for each port and fill out the embassy details for every cruise port. 

Travel Agent

If you are working with a travel agent, make sure you have their phone number handy so you can easily contact them for help with your travel arrangements.

Free Cruise Emergency Contact Form with Travel Insurance Expense Tracker

Cruise Emergency Contact & Expense Tracker (1)

Get your free cruise emergency contact form and travel insurance expense tracker. Just print a copy for each port you visit and fill in the contact information of the port agent, local embassy, and cruise line’s customer service number. To keep track of all your expenses, use the travel insurance expense tracker. This will help you keep track of your expenses and make it easier to file a claim with your travel insurance company later on. Get your free cruise printables now.

Check out these free cruise printables

Caribbean cruise packing list

Alaska cruise packing list

Mediterranean cruise packing list

The Worst Months to Go on a Cruise

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

9 Cruise Main Dining Room Mistakes You’ll Regret Making

6 Annoying Things About Tipping on a Cruise

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