What do you do on cruise port days?

Maximizing Your Cruise Port Days: A Comprehensive Guide

As a seasoned cruiser with over two decades of shipboard experience, I’ve witnessed the evolution of cruise port days. In the early days, smaller ships often meant a rush to disembark and explore as soon as the gangway was down. However, the choices for what to do ashore have expanded considerably, and savvy cruisers often have their own preferences depending on the port of call. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the myriad options available to you on your cruise port days.
Regent Seven Seas Voyager docked in Europe.

Cruise Line Excursions vs. Independent Tours: Weighing the Options

Cruise lines offer organized tours that make exploring ashore a breeze. However, there are pros and cons to consider:
  • Cruise line tours are hassle-free and optimized for your ship’s schedule.
  • Top-notch tour operators ensure your safety and enjoyment.
  • Convenience: Pre-book these tours for peace of mind.
  • Cost: Cruise line tours can be pricier.
  • Limited customizability.

One of my last cruises we took the free shuttle from the cruise ship dock into Hamburg and simply explored on our own.  Hamburg Cruise Port To City Centre. | Cruise, Shop, Save (cruiseshopsave.com)

A Perfect Day in Hamburg, Germany during my cruise on P&O Iona.

Local Tour Operators: Unlocking Authentic Adventures

For budget-conscious travelers or those seeking unique experiences, local tour operators can be a great choice. Here’s how to go about it:
  • Research and Compare: Take note of the cruise line’s tour offerings, then research local alternatives.
  • Cost Savings: Discover fantastic tours at a fraction of the price.
  • Customization: Tailor your experience to your preferences.

Duty-Free Delights: Cruise Port Shopping Guide

Shopping in cruise destinations has evolved into a shopping paradise, with tax and duty-free savings. Here’s how to make the most of it:
  • Tax and Duty-Free: Explore destinations where you can save on luxury items, jewelry, electronics, and more.
  • Examples of Savings: Understand the potential savings, like saving up to 25% on watches.
  • Shop Smart: Tips for purchasing jewelry and luxury items with confidence.
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Shopping ashore is so much fun you find loads of one of a kind items. Savings are huge with Tax & Duty Free goods.

Sandy Escapes: Your Guide to Beach Days on a Cruise

For those seeking sun and surf, a beach day is often a top choice. Here’s what you need to know:
  • Research Beaches: Find your perfect beach, either online or through the Shore Excursion desk.
  • Logistics: Consider transportation to and from the beach and local time changes.
  • Safety First: Ensure you’re aware of the ship’s time and all aboard time.
If you are heading for the beach why not fill up on a big cooked breakfast grab some fruit and snacks from the buffet, couple of bottles of water and head to the beach.  Some cruise ships dock within walking distance to a beach.  But be prepared if the beach is close it is going to be busy with your fellow guests so you must leave early to grab a spot.
Look how close this beach is to Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Dock, great beach within walking distance of the ship.

Local Insights: Exploring Ports with Taxi Tours

Taking a taxi tour can be an excellent way to explore local highlights. Here’s what to consider:
  • Local Expertise: Taxi drivers often provide half-day or full-day highlight tours.
  • Questions to Ask: Key questions to confirm with your driver before setting off.
The best ports to take a local taxi tour is Jamaica, St. Lucia, Sorrento, Ketchikan and many more…

Cruise Terminal Bliss: A Relaxing Day at Port

Sometimes, you’ll find that staying in the cruise terminal is a perfectly enjoyable option. Here’s how to make the most of it:
  • Souvenirs and More: Explore what the cruise terminal has to offer.
  • Local Eateries: Discover local cafes or bars for a bite or drink.
  • Leisurely Return: Return to the ship at your leisure.
Here are some ports that have a fabulous cruise terminal or things to do right there where you disembark the ship:
There is a great terminal in Costa Maya you have the beach, shopping, restaurants, bars and entertainment.



All the ports offer amazing things to do from Shopping, Museums, Totem Poles, Restaurants and Bars very close to where the ships dock for more information here are the links to the ports:
Alaska – Local Tour Bus taking guests from the port in Juneau, right to Mendenhall Glacier – no need to book a tour through the ship.

Port Paradise: Exploring World-Famous Resorts

Visiting a famous resort might seem unconventional, but some ports boast world-renowned options:
  • Unexpected Gems: Explore famous resorts in cruise destinations.
  • Unique Experiences: Enjoy the luxury and amenities these resorts offer.

Friends at Port: Meeting Locals and Fellow Cruisers

Meeting up with friends who live at your destination or fellow cruisers can add a personal touch to your port days:
  • Local Insights: Benefit from local knowledge.
  • Reconnecting: Spend quality time with friends you haven’t seen in years.

Savoring the World: Dining Adventures in Cruise Ports

Some ports are renowned for their culinary delights. Here’s how to enjoy a memorable meal:
  • Famous Eateries: Explore famous restaurants and bars in cruise ship destinations.
  • Long Lunch and Fun: Indulge in local cuisine and enjoy the ambiance.
Wine Tour with food in Santorini, Greece.

Serenity at Sea: Enjoying a Relaxing Day Onboard

For seasoned cruisers revisiting familiar ports, a day of relaxation onboard can be the perfect choice:
  • Spa and Wellness: Discover onboard spa offers.
  • Leisure Time: Enjoy a peaceful lunch or your favorite spot on deck.


Your cruise port days offer a world of possibilities. Whether you choose organized tours, independent adventures, shopping sprees, beach days, or unique local experiences, the key is to make the most of every moment ashore. With the right planning and insights, your cruise port days will be filled with unforgettable experiences and cherished memories. Bon voyage!