One of the most appealing reasons to go on a cruise is also one of the drawbacks. You get to see a lot of places in a short amount of time, with minimal packing and unpacking. On the other hand, you can’t see any place in depth. Or can you? Here are some tips making the most of your port stop and seeing (wherever you go) in one day.
Maximizing your day means different things depending on where you are. In St. Maarten you may want to spend as much (or as little) time as possible at Orient Beach, getting every last ray of sunshine on every part of your body. Yes, it’s a nude beach. In Europe, however, you may dock an hour or more from a major city, so sightseeing has to be planned a bit more carefully. Regardless of where you are going, make the most of it by enjoying as much as possible. After all, you are on vacation to enjoy yourself, right?
Understand your time constraints. Knowing what times the ship docks and leaves is necessary, but don’t expect to get off the ship immediately and please, I beg you, don’t be the person last back onboard. (You don’t want to be running through the pier hoping to make it on time.) Typically, if a cruise ship docks at 7 AM, you can expect to be off by about 8 AM, but that can vary. Similarly, at the end of the day, you’ll want to plan on being back at least half an hour before all-aboard. If the ship is anchored, and you tender in, you will need to allow even more time.
Make a plan. Yes, this is my advice for just about everything in life. But on a day where you want to see a whole city, it is important to choose what is most important to you. In Rome, do you want to see the Vatican? In Florence, do you want to wander through the Uffizzi and still have time for gelato? Do a little research, or ask your travel agent, what the highlights are in a particular port. You will also want to know how far those highlights are from the ship. After all, you only have one day to get it all in.
Book a tour. I book private and small group tours for my clients all over the world. (Major European cities? Check. Small, hard-to-get-to places in rural areas? Check.) Most people prefer either private touring or going with a small group, as opposed to a fifty person tour bus. It is much easier to be on your own schedule and see what you want. Make sure that whoever you are using will guarantee that you get back to the ship on time.
Leave a chance to wander. I know, it sounds counterintuitive to the whole make a plan thing. I promise it is not. Schedule your time so you have an hour or two to wander, shop or have a coffee. Spend a little while simply enjoying where you are and soaking up the ambiance. Get more of a feel for where you are than just the major sights.
A cruise is a great way to get a feel for several places in one trip. Figure out which ones you like best, and then plan a land trip for a more in-depth experience. However you choose to travel, maximize your time doing the things you enjoy most.