Staying on a Cruise Ship in Port: Here’s When You Can and Why You Would


If you are considering taking a cruise, you may be wondering if you have to get off the ship.

Many people like the idea of using a cruise ship as an all-inclusive resort, enjoying the facilities onboard while not actually getting off in any of the ports.

Do You Have to Get Off The Ship on a Cruise?

Guests taking a cruise, do not have to get off the cruise ship at any point if they don’t want to. If a passenger wants to stay on the cruise ship for the entire cruise, there is no reason why they can’t. Many guests enjoy staying on the ship for a variety of reasons.

There are a number of reasons why a passenger may wish to stay on the cruise ship, even when the cruise ship is docked in port and there are a number of benefits to doing so.

Why Would A Guest Stay Onboard The Ship When in Port?

They’ve Visited The Port Before

If you have visited a port before you may wish to stay on board and instead enjoy the facilities of the cruise ship.

I have done this in the past and would strongly recommend everybody to try a stay onboard day at least once.

The Port is Industrial

I took a cruise which visited Le Havre in France. Le Havre cruise port is known as the “gateway to Paris”. There are a lot of industrial ports, that are advertised as “gateways” to other destinations.

The distance between Le Havre and Paris is over 100 miles and the transfer into Paris usually takes around 2.5 hours.

I wasn’t interested in making the journey, so I did stay on the ship and enjoyed the facilities onboard.

I was cruising on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas at the time and used the Le Havre day to try the flow rider. Below is my first, and only attempt!

No Interest in Visiting The Port

Not everybody picks a particular cruise because they want to visit the ports. They may have picked a particular cruise because they like the ship or the cruise line. They may just not be interested in visiting a particular port.

Chance to Really Relax

If you take a cruise which is port-intensive, it can be very tiring, and feel very busy. Staying on the cruise ship during a port day can give you the perfect opportunity to relax, slow down, and enjoy things at your own pace.

A lot of cruise itineraries have a different port every single day. Some even have two per day. I recently took a cruise in Greece where we visited two ports per day. This is not usual. It was amazing, but it was very, very tiring. Sometimes it can be nice just to stay on the ship in order to unwind.

To learn more about the very busy cruise that I took with Celestyal Cruises, check out this post:

What Are The Benefits of Staying on a Cruise Ship During a Port Day?

Guests Can Enjoy a Quieter Ship

There are a number of benefits to staying onboard a cruise ship on a port day.

Many cruisers enjoy sea days where the ship doesn’t dock and I do too. That said, on sea days, the cruise ships can be quite busy. Sometimes it will be difficult to get a seat by the pool or in the bar that you want to sit in. Entertainment venues can fill up fast too.

This can be more noticeable if you’re traveling in a location where the weather is bad and all of the passengers are inside the cruise ship.

Create Your Own Sea Day

One of the best things about staying on a cruise ship during a port day is that you basically make yourself a sea day, but without all of the other passengers.

The ship is considerably less busy than it would be on a sea day.

It is so much easier to get a seat by the pool. You can find space in any bar or restaurant and entertainment is still happening onboard. There is usually less entertainment, because it is assumed that the majority of guests will be in port, but there are still things going on around the ship.

There Are Usually Port Day Discounts

Another benefit is that you’ll often find discounts on things like spa treatments on port days.

If you are interested in something like a spa treatment, keep an eye on the daily schedule, which is a leaflet delivered to your cabin every single night. This will tell you if there are any port day discounts or discounts of any kind to take advantage of.

The discounts are usually offered on port days because port day treatments are generally less desirable.

Most people who do want to have a spa treatment will want to do it on a sea day because they most likely be busy on the port days.

For this reason, you can often save up to a third or you may get special freebies and bundles if you do book spa treatments on a port day.

Guests Can Minimise Their on Land Spend by Staying Onboard

Another benefit of staying on a cruise ship during a port day, is that you are able to save a lot of money.

You’ve already paid for the food that is on the cruise ship, so staying on during the port day means that you can eat the food that you’ve already paid for.

You’re also avoiding costs like transportation, entry fees to attractions, and general shopping on land.

On the other hand, you may spend more money on drinks than you would on land, but this does depend on your cruising habits.

Exceptions

There are of course exceptions to this rule.

If you were cruising somewhere where immigration needs to physically see every person on the cruise ship, you may have to disembark just to go through immigration and then re-embark.

This is incredibly rare, but it did happen to me when I was cruising in Japan. Even if you were somebody who wanted to stay on the ship, everybody had to get off the ship and go through immigration.

Nobody was allowed back on the ship until everybody had been through immigration. This is the very rare exception to the rule and it doesn’t usually happen. If you were taking a cruise in a place like the Caribbean or the Mediterranean it’s very unlikely this would happen.

It is much more likely that the cruise line will hold your passport and complete immigration checks for you. To learn more about why this would happen, check out this post:

To conclude: Any guests taking a cruise that wish to stay on the cruise ship can do so. There are definitely some benefits to staying on a cruise ship during a port day. The ships are much quieter, there are usually discounts on board and you’re able to enjoy the ship in a way that you wouldn’t usually be able to do on a sea day.

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Emma Le Teace

Hey, I'm Emma, an award-winning cruise blogger, and YouTuber. I share cruise tips, tours, and videos on this website to help you master cruising on a budget. You can learn more here: About Me.

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