Port days are great, we often pick our itinerary based on the ports the ship is visiting. There are some things you can do to not only make your port visit safe but fun too.
Do a Shore Excursion
One of the best ways to see the port especially when visiting for the first time is onshore excursion. Tours vary and can be a walk or bus around town, shopping, local interest like wine tasting or chocolate tasting, historical or adventurous like zip lining or rafting. One thing I will say is its highly recommended you purchase the shore excurion from the cruise line. This will ensure you do not get left if the tour is late returning. That being said, if you are doing a short tour in the morning and not going far from port, you might be safe to take a third party tour, just consider timing prior to your purchase.
Pay attention to ships time. For the most part, you will stay on ship time despite what the time is in the port you are visiting. Carnival for example does not change when they visit Mexico so you will be on a different time than the locals. This can be important for opening times of attractions and most importantly getting back to the ship on time.
If you want to shop and have less crowds, wait until the excursions have left, it tends to thin out a little. Now if you plan on going out to explore and want to shop at the pier, shop when you get back, this way you don’t have to carry everything around on your excursion.
Exploring on Your Own
Some ports are perfectly safe to explore on your own like St. Thomas, Grand Cayman and others. You can usually get a taxi pretty easily right in port. Just make sure you give your self plenty of time to get back to the ship. My rule of thumb is to aim for an hour or more prior to the all aboard time. Another trick I have is to screen shot or download a map of the area to your phone as you may not have internet. The maps they give you on this ship are primarily focused on the shopping right there are the port.
For exploring on your own its important to be with a group. If you are solo, try to join a tour or take a taxi with multiple passengers. That will not only be safer but save you some money.
On your daily program whether printed or on the app, you should find an emergency number to use while in port. Take a screen shot or picture of it so you have it if needed.
Have a backpack or tote bag for your port days. In the bag, you want to have a photo id, your sail and sign card (or key card), some cash but not all and a credit card, again not all of them. A towel if you are going to the beach and of course sunscreen.
Check with your phone carrier, you may have the ability to make phone calls and send text messages while you are in port. I know with T Mobile, I can send free text when in Mexico and the Bahamas. If not ,grab a drink a bar or restaurant at the port that has WIFI.
These are just a few of the tips I use on port days to make my day more enjoyable. If you have tips, I would love to hear them.
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I have a passion for travel and believe travel is about experiences. Experiences create memories and are the stories we tell to friends and family - even with a little fudging on the facts.