Here’s Why We Stay on the Ship at a Port…And You Should Too!

On every cruise, we set aside one port of call to stay on the ship, and these are the 10 reasons you should consider doing the same!

Why You Should Stay on the Ship at Your Next Port of Call

Your cruise ship has finally docked at its next port of call. As the announcements are being made and your fellow passengers are making their way to the gangway, you remain put. Today, you have decided to stay on the ship. Why? Because sometimes staying onboard the ship during a stop can be just as rewarding.

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Why You Should Stay on the Ship at Your Next Port of Call

Save Money on Tours and Excursions

We love cruising as you can visit some fantastic destinations. So, it might sound counterintuitive to remain on the ship when stopped at a port of call. Honestly though, not all destinations on your itinerary might appeal to you. Often, we find that there is a stop that doesn’t have any tours or excursions that interest us. So, why waste money when there are many other places to visit on the trip?

Thus, we can easily say we will stay on board.

Stay on the Ship

Given that almost everything is included on the ship, you can save some money by not venturing ashore. This can be useful if we go all-in on a bucket list excursion at one port of call, like a helicopter tour or an all-day sightseeing adventure with many stops.

Get Some Much Needed Rest and Relaxation

No one wants to wake up early multiple days in a row on vacation to catch that 7:30 a.m. tour or tender. Unfortunately, if you’re going to do and see as much as possible when docked at a stop, you need to set that alarm clock. Some tours or experiences only often early morning departures.

But, when you stay on a ship during a port of call, you don’t have to worry about those meeting times in the main theater!

Forgoing a port of call means you can sleep in as late as you want. Who doesn’t like a few extra hours of sleep to recharge the batteries? Lounge around your cabin, perhaps with some breakfast on your balcony, or stake claim in your favorite lounge chair to catch some rays.

You Can Actually Swim in the Pool

Admittedly, we are not big beach or resort people. So, it still surprises us when fellow cruisers get off the ship to get a taxi to take them to a hotel or a beach. Literally, you just got off a huge floating hotel with several pools and attractions.

While it is true that on a sea day, the ship’s pools are often at capacity, the opposite is true when at a port of call. During most port stops, you will find the lido deck is relatively empty. This means you can have the pools and hot tubs mostly to yourself.

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If you want to stretch out or take a few laps for exercise, stay onboard the ship at your next stop. You will enjoy the pool deck without feeling claustrophobic. You will have no issues finding the perfect lounger, as the deck chair hogs will be off annoying others ashore!

Pamper Yourself for Cheap

When at a port of call, the onboard shops will be closed while docked. Plus, you will need to wait for the ship to set sail for the casino to reopen. But one area of the ship that will be open is the Spa!

Almost all cruise ships offer port day specials for the Spa or Salon. So, while others are off navigating the busy streets, you can unwind with a relaxing couples massage. Or, enjoy fantastic views of the port from the comforts of a heated stone lounger or hydrotherapy pool in the ship’s Thermal Suite.

Check with spa staff on embarkation day, or a day prior to the port stop, to see if they have any discounts or deals for that particular port day.

Exclusive areas on the ship might offer day passes or discounts while in port as well. You might be able to get a cabana or a pass to the private sundeck at a fraction of the typical costs. So, you can use all that money you saved from not going ashore to splurge on an upgraded experience right on the ship.

Make Good Use of the Beverage Package

There is no better time to take advantage of that cruise ship drink package than a port day.

Many of the outdoor bars will be open with no lines. Not to mention, there will be bar servers making the rounds to a mostly empty pool deck. So, it will be very easy to order those pina coladas or daiquiris while enjoying the Caribbean sun.

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With no lines at the bars, you can start a conversation with the bartender or server and get to know the crew better. Or, give yourself permission to try a new drink. Getting a fresh drink will be hassle-free if you don’t like it. Given all of the drinks are already paid for, you will not be wasting money either.

Depending on the cruise line and your drink package, your package might include specialty coffees at the onboard cafe. Now, you can enjoy that cappuccino and read a good book in peace and quiet while everyone else is dealing with the crowds ashore.

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Enjoy a Leisurely Lunch

On sea days, getting breakfast or lunch can feel rather chaotic. Swarms of people in the buffet going forwards, backwards, and every which way. Seats are hard to come by, and it is a mad dash to grab and go so you don’t miss a scheduled activity or event.

When staying on a ship in a port of call, the buffet can feel like a ghost town. It will still be fully-stocked with all of your favorite items. But, you won’t have to worry about whining kids or those line cutters stealing the last of the French fries.

Norwegian Prima Restaurants Guide

Grab an al fresco seat, sit down, and enjoy your lunch. If your cruise line has free room service, now is the time for a quiet, relaxing lunch on the balcony. You won’t have to worry about the wind as the ship won’t be sailing.

Most cruise ships close the main dining room and specialty restaurants when in port. But, there should be a number of casual options still available for a nice leisurely lunch.

Explore the Ship

A port day is the perfect time to explore the ship. Getting the best shots of venues like the pool, some restaurants, and entertainment venues can be difficult. This is especially true on cruise embarkation day or those crowded sea days. So, when almost everyone is off the ship at a port of call grab those coveted shots.

We almost always bucket a port day to stay onboard so we can explore the entire ship without so many other cruisers. Along with allowing us to get videos and photos, we sometimes even find some hidden gems.

You Can Explore the Ship When You Stay Onboard

You won’t feel rushed to get the perfect angle or worry about holding others up if you’re taking multiple shots. This is the time to score some ship selfies in normally high traffic areas. It is the fool proof way to ensure that your vacation pics are not photo bombed.

Believe us, mega-ships feel very different mostly empty when docked at a port of call.

Try out All the Activities with No Lines

You booked this ship because it offers so many amenities. Attractions like go-karts, waterslides, or even mini golf are always crowded on those busy sea days. You didn’t go on vacation to wait in line.

So, now is the time to explore the ropes course, ride the rollercoaster, scale the rock climbing wall, or even utilize the sports court. With most people off the ship, the busy areas are usually open for you to call your own. Just check the cruise daily or the ship’s app for operating hours and times.

No matter what you choose, you own the outdoor space when you stay on the ship at a port of call. Granted, the crowds will return by mid-afternoon, so test out the ship’s signature attractions early in the day if they are open.

Stay on the Ship to Hit the Gym

The onboard gym is often packed with other passengers, except when the ship is docked. This is another public space that remains open even when the ship is at a port of call. Most ships’ fitness centers have the same posted hours on a port day as a sea day.

Thus, you can utilize all of the equipment without any hassle. Or, if you’d prefer to enjoy the weather, go for a run on the jogging track. While the ship is in port, you won’t have to worry about dodging other travelers as you will have the deck almost exclusively to yourself.

Even if it’s just a leisurely walk around the outdoor promenade, getting extra exercise during a port day will be more enjoyable and less crowded. That way, you won’t feel so bad ordering that extra dessert later at dinner!

You Have Visited the Port of Call on a Previous Trip

Frequent cruisers have probably been to some ports several times. If this is one of your numerous visits to Nassau, Bahamas or Cozumel, Mexico, it might make sense to stay onboard the ship.

As mentioned above, staying on the ship offers tons of benefits. If the ship is stopped at a cruise port you have visited, you won’t feel as guilty about not getting off. You won’t have FOMO.

The True Bahamas Cruise Cost

Although, keep in mind that you might not be alone at some of these stops. If other like-minded cruisers sailing with you have the same idea, they might also decide to skip this port. We have been on ships docked at some of these locations, and the pool deck was just as busy as a typical sea day.

So, if you truly want a day where you have the ship all to yourself, then one of these popular ports might not be the best time to stay on the ship and reap all the benefits.


Have you ever skipped a port to stay onboard the ship? Are you considering this option on your next voyage? Drop us an anchor below to let us know how you would spend your day on an almost empty cruise ship.

Don Bucolo, or “DB”, loves everything about cruising- the ocean, the food, and the atmosphere. While he may be obsessed with doing extensive amounts of research on ships and all elements of a cruise, Don enjoys sharing his new found knowledge with fellow cruisers. When he is not sailing the high seas, he does whatever his wife tells him to do-it only took 10 years to realize this.
Don Bucolo
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