What to do if you get left behind on a cruise

Sep 22, 2017

Being left behind at port and watching your cruise ship sail off into the distance without you has got to be every cruiser’s worst nightmare.

We all like to stretch our legs and venture out at different ports while on a cruise holiday, but there’s always that thought at the back of our minds – what if we get left behind?

If you’ve got good time management skills then you won’t have to worry about anything, just listen to your crew and make sure you’re back on the ship well before the departure time.

But if you lack punctuality and like to do things at your own pace, then getting back to the vessel in time might be a little more difficult than you think.

An important thing to note is that if you book your tour with the cruise operator, then they will be responsible for getting you back to the ship in time and if they’re late they’ll likely be in touch with the crew on board so they won’t leave without you.

However, if you book your own tours and activities once you arrive, it is completely up to you to make it back to the ship on time.

Missing the ship is just like missing a flight, so it will be up to you to make it to the next port in time to get back on again, but that will be at the expense of the passenger.

Travel at 60 readers are big lovers of cruising and have had their fair share of mishaps when it comes to arriving at port on time.

“I have seen it happen to a couple in Alaska. They were waving like crazy and we all waved back,” said Jenny Berrick. “I always get back early.”

It almost happened to reader Karen McBean when she was younger, too.

“I was 20 and on a cruise with a friend,” she recalls.

“We hired a boat to take us to an island and [our guide] was late picking us up. The ship was in the ocean, about to sail off.

“[It was] pitch black in a small boat, we were screaming to let us on the ship.”

Claire Vloedmans was shocked to see her ship glide off into the distance in Greece, too.

“On a day cruise in Athens we were told the boat departed the last island at 5pm. Imagine our surprise when we [arrived] at 4.30pm to see the gangplanks going up.

“Passengers [were] running down the wharf yelling but the boat just took off. It eventually turned around and went back. We all got a free cocktail and an apology from the captain.”

Here are some ways to make sure you never get left behind on a cruise holiday:

  • Plan your excursions with the cruise directly to ensure you’ll also be returned on time
  • Be aware of the traffic. You might have planned your arrival properly, but have you taken into account that an accident or other traffic conditions might make you late?
  • Make sure your travel insurance policy covers things like missing your ship
  • Be aware that the time on your watch might not be the local time at your port, especially when crossing time zones and visiting different countries
  • Take down your port agent’s phone number, so if you do wind up running late, you can at least contact them to see what your options are

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Have you ever been left behind on a cruise ship?

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