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Port day basics

How long do you spend in port on a typical cruise port day?

The time you have in port can vary greatly depending on the itinerary. It could be anything from half a day (roughly five hours or so), to overnight with an early morning departure. All Shore Experiences have been carefully selected to fit within the port schedule, and more precise arrival and departure times can be found in your Daily Programme. Don't forget to set your watch to local time!


You’ll also find a number of evening departures on many voyages with Cunard, bringing you the chance to spend most of the day exploring in port, and then enjoy a glimpse of the nightlife too; check our current itineraries to see what's on offer.


How do overnight cruise ports work?

Should your cruise itinerary include an overnight port, your ship will be docked overnight and will depart the next morning. At these destinations you’re able to stay in port for longer, meaning you could perhaps enjoy a local evening meal or spend a few hours soaking up the atmosphere as you sip on a cocktail in a bar. Favourite ports for overnight calls include Amsterdam, Singapore, and Dubai; check our current itineraries to see what is available.


Can I come and go as I please between ship and shore?

There are likely to be some parameters when it comes to time, but you are more or less free to come and go as you wish. You will usually be told a time from which you can depart the ship, and a time to be back on board, but what you do with the time in between is up to you. Many guests choose to come back to the ship for their meal, before heading back out again to explore after lunch, for example.


How can I find out more about the cruise ports I will visit?

To find out more about visiting the cruise ports on your itinerary, you can find information on our destination pages. Alternatively, you may wish to buy a guidebook – or borrow one from the library when you’re on board. The Daily Programme also contains some basic information.

Getting off your ship

How do I get off the ship when visiting a port?

You will be given all the information you need regarding leaving the ship via your Daily Programme. The Captain may also give details in his or her daily announcement over breakfast, and signage may appear in lobbies directing you to the disembarkation deck. Depending on the location of your suite or stateroom, you may be given an allocated time to get off the ship, to reduce foot traffic. Remember, the crew are always on hand to answer questions if you have any!


You will need to go through some basic security checks when you leave the ship, and have your cruise card scanned by crew. Depending on the port, you may also have do go through some immigration checks; ensure you check this before you sail and bring any visa or travel documentation with you.


How long does it take to get off a cruise ship at a port of call?

When it comes to getting on and off the ship, the crew always endeavour to make the process as seamless as possible. One of the reasons you may be given an allocated time to exit the ship is to avoid queuing, allowing you to get into port quicker. Should you be arriving at a tender port, it will take a little longer because of the time spent on the tender boat. If you have a Shore Experience booked, make sure to leave plenty of time so that you can get to your meeting point.


What will I need to bring when I go ashore?

You will need to take your passport, cruise card, and other travel documents with you when you go ashore (as some ports have additional immigration checks), plus local currency or a credit card. Passports may not be required for getting on and off the ship in many port calls, however they may be useful in an emergency. We also suggest bringing your Daily Programme with you, as it contains useful local emergency information in case of difficulty.


In addition to this, it could be wise to bring essentials like sun cream and sunglasses if you’re in hot weather, comfortable shoes if you’ll be walking a lot, and anything else you think would be useful. And, of course, make sure to dress appropriately for the weather and any activites you may be doing while on shore!


Does my ship dock right in town?

In some ports your ship will dock in a central location that makes exploring on foot easy. However, there are many ports at which the docks are some distance from the main destination. In this case, you’ll have the option to use a transfer service. At tender ports, your ship will anchor some way from the port itself, and a tender boat will transport you to the dock. 

Woman on boat in Icy Strait Point Alaska

Returning on board

What is the procedure for returning to the ship?

Similarly to when you went on shore, you will need to go through some basic security checks, and have your cruise card scanned. Your passport isn't needed to get back on board, unless there are specific immigration checks in certain port calls.


If I'm late returning to my ship, will it wait for me?

Unfortunately, due to the nature of cruise itineraries, and the need to depart from ports at time that has been agreed with the Dock Master, it’s not possible for a ship to wait for late guests. In this instance, you’ll need to meet your ship at the next port if that’s possible, or make your way home. For this reason we always advise that you take your passport and travel documents with you when you go on shore. The Daily Programme also contains local emergency information so that you can get assistance should you become stuck or face a medical issue while on shore.


Is there anything I can't bring back on board with me?

You’ll find a list of prohibited items that aren’t allowed on board on our FAQs page. Should you purchase alcohol in port, you can bring this on board, however, it will be kept safe on your behalf and returned to you at the end of your holiday.

A smiling female Cunard crew member works at the on board reception desk

Top tips for cruise port days

Speak to the experts

It’s wise to speak to the experts on board your Cunard Queen if you’d like more information about things to do and see in port. Our on board sales team have an enviable arsenal of knowledge when it comes to tips, tricks, and information about things to do and see in port, including places to eat, things to avoid, and practical tips such as about language and currency. They’re always happy to help and to ensure you have the best time possible in port. Our Shore Experience team, often found in the Tour Office on board, also have a wealth of information, and can help you find the perfect Shore Experience to get the most out of your day.


Be prepared

Some like to plan each port visit down to the last minute, whereas some prefer a more relaxed approach. Whatever your style, we recommend reading basic information such as weather, currency, and any facilities you may require while on shore, plus any immigration requirements you may need documentation for.


Book Shore Experiences in advance

Cunard offers a range of excursions, tours, and activities at each port of call, from culutural experiences to active adventures, plus a range of accessible options too. You can book on board via My Voyage or the Tours Office, but if you book on My Cunard before you sail, you will pay a lower price than if you book on board!

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