“If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium.” Far more people have heard the expression than saw the 1969 movie. If you love cruising, you might find yourself returning to the same Caribbean ports or finding “a port a day” exhausting. What are your alternatives?
This doesn’t affect everyone. If you are on the World Cruise and been sailing for five days, you might just want to get off the ship! If the seas were rough, you wanted to stand on a surface that doesn’t sway!
Let’s assume you’ve had a smooth voyage, yet this is a port you’ve visited many times. What are your alternatives?
- Leisurely dining. When the dining room is full and running two seatings, it’s unlikely the waitstaff will be receptive to your request for a special order, something that’s off the regular menu. When you are in port, most people are on shore. The dining room might be almost empty. Now they’ve got the time to be more flexible. Tip: Place your request with the maitre d’ or table captain the day before your port day. You want to make your request for lunch, when things are really slow.
- Use the hot tub. How many times has it happened on a sea day? You get the idea to hop into the whirlpool, then discover there are two other couples, a family or young children in the hot tub! You don’t want to squeeze in. On a port day, that shouldn’t be a problem.
- Duty Free. The ship’s shops are closed during port days. Ditto the casino and entertainment. Walk down the gangway and visit the first duty free shop or liquor store you can find. They will probably have a better selection than the ship. Tip: If you are in Russia, that duty free shop likely carries caviar too.
- Magazines. In Europe, you’ve probably seen those sidewalk newsstands with hundreds of magazines on display. None are in English! The airport newsstands usually have an international section with English newspapers and magazines. It’s highly likely the newsstands at the port have picked up on this opportunity. Buy a few for the next leg of the voyage.
- Supermarket. There is often a grocery within walking distance of the ship. Why? Because ship’s crews, just off freighters and passenger ships, want to buy stuff. You are probably thinking about hosting a cabin party for your new friends. Now is your chance to buy your needed supplies. Tip: Your brilliant idea to host a gin and tonic party will require lots of tonic and limes, in addition to all the gin you bought at the duty-free shop.
- Radio. We are used to doing everything though our Smart phones. You Tube supplies videos. Pandora brings us music. Internet access can be expensive, slow and spotty at sea. Bring a radio. Check out the local broadcast stations in the port. Even if there is a language barrier, music should be universal.
- Internet access. It’s expensive at sea. You might find the port terminal has free WIFI. If not, look for a McDonalds, Starbucks or another chain restaurant known for offering free WIFI to customers. Settle in, get caught up.
- Local food. OK, you don’t want to be taking a bus into the center of town. If you are in a Mediterranean port city, there are probably sidewalk cafes nearby. Even if the port is a secured area, you can probably walk a short distance and find a comfortable place to enjoy freshly caught fish, local beer and wines of the region.
- Do your laundry. OK, this doesn’t sound like THAT much fun. Your ship has free washers and dryers. That’s a plus. But there’s always a crowd. That’s a minus. Not on port days. All those folks are on the tours or in the center of town waiting for the shuttle bus.
- Try a tour. Cruise lines are often thinking way ahead of you. They know the best customers are repeat customers. They try to add new tours to explore a different aspect of the island or city’s culture than you’ve seen previously. Read over the offerings ahead of time.
There’s a lot you can do if you don’t feel like heading into town or taking a tour.
Cover photo: Queen Victoria lounge area, credit Bryce Sanders