A Guide to Making the Most of Cruise Port Stops
A cruise is certainly one of the most relaxing ways to see some of the world’s top destinations. You only have to unpack once, dining options are abundant and ever-available and nightly entertainment is just steps away (which means getting home after a few cocktails couldn’t be easier!)
The best part, however, is waking up in a new country most mornings, full of anticipation about the next adventure. Most cruise ships arrange extensive tour menus, covering highlights and special interests, such as food, art and museum-based journeys.
The tours are a fantastic way to see a lot in a small amount of time, however they can be pricey and sticking to a tour group isn’t for everyone.
If you like to take your own road, a little bit of planning means you can make the most of your stops, without missing the all-important sail-away time. Over the next few weeks, we’ll post a series of guides to popular cruise ports, including all the must-sees and how to navigate them in a day.
First up though, here are some tips to ensure you make the most of your time at each incredible stop.
Do Your Research Before You Leave
Without a guide or organised transport, it’s important to do your research about each destination, before you leave for your cruise. Make a list of the top attractions you’d like to see. Group them into areas, to identify which sights you can visit within walking distance of each other and how long it takes to catch a bus or taxi to a different district.
Next, check out the public transport system, taxis and local tourist options, such as Hop-On Hop-Off buses, and choose the most suitable. While it may be tempting to pack as much as you can into an itinerary, it’s often a better idea to pick your top three or four sights, rather than spending most of the day on buses, rushing from one to the other.
If you want to visit museums, castles and monuments, you may need entry tickets. It’s usually best to book these online before you go, so you can skip long lines and ensure easy entry. Research free walking tour times in each city, as, if you catch a morning one, they’re a great way to get an idea of how to get around.
Get up Early to Beat the Rush
On port days, it’s likely that everyone on board the ship will be up at a similar time, as many of the tours leave all at once. This means there can be delays at breakfast, as everyone heads for the buffet before they go! Touring independently gives you the flexible option of disembarking as soon as you’re advised it’s fine to do so, therefore, get up early to beat the rush and have as much time as possible to explore.
Each morning and evening, you’re given a rundown of the local time in each country, the time you’ll dock and the time you need to be back on board. Though it can be easy to get carried away with all the fun on board, making sure your watch is up to date at all times is imperative to independent travel at a port stop.
Take into consideration that some cruise terminals are located within walking distance of city centres and attractions, while others could be quite a drive away, so find out about transport options from cruise staff beforehand.
Keep an eye out for our series on making the most of some of the top port stops in the world…and happy cruising!