Welcome to a regular feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this featured topic.
First things first, yes, I know, a cruise ship is a ship not a boat as I have been told many times by “frequent floater” MJ on Travel that you can put a boat on a ship but never a ship on a boat. But for my post title the expression is not “miss the ship”. With that out of the way, on to the rest of the story.
What you are seeing above is an airstrip on a tiny Caribbean island. It is right next door to where we were docked on the NCL Dawn this past February. It so happens that as it was time to depart announcements over the PA were asking 8 people to check in at guest services as they had not had their sea cards scanned in (your sea card is you room key and card for billing anything onboard as well as when you depart or re-board the ship).
I later asked the captain (he was Swedish, btw) if all 8 made it back onboard and he told me 2 of them did not and will have to fly to the port where we were going in a few days (missing another port along the way for some reason). That was going to be expensive because they would have to pay for their own hotel nights as well as one-way air to catch up with the ship. Talk about adding to the cost of your vacation in a bad way.
So to answer the question in the title of this post, YES a ship will depart without you and you will be on your own (yet another reason for yearly travel insurance btw). But are there ways to avoid this? Yes!
The above is a shot from the NCL Jade in port at Jamaica. We waited well over an hour past scheduled departure time because one of the ship booked excursions was late in returning guests to the ship. This is a big reason to pay the often 2x as high fee to book excursions onboard vs. just going ashore and finding a tour or even using sites like Expedia etc. to book whatever.
What should you do if you find your ship has sailed without you? First you panic like these folks did as they were caught on video watching the ship depart without them! What next, once realty has sunk in? Well hopefully you, in advance, took steps to protect yourself. This piece from CresShip.com is a good one to review. The highlights I recommend are this:
- Carry yearly travel insurance
- Have copies of your passport in your phone and somewhere digitally safe
- You and your +1 each have a credit card with you onshore
- Carry enough cash for an emergency
- Enlist the cruise port ship folks for help if you are stuck
The latter matters because this happens more times than you think and while this may be your first nightmare scenario it is not their first rodeo. Worst case situation, this costs you a bunch of $$$ but it will be OK in the end.
So the ultimate question then – have I personally booked off ship excursions? You bet and I have no issues doing so but I always leave a buffer of several hours before the ship is due to depart. The only time I have ever been one of the last folks onboard was when I was on a ship sponsored tour so I had no reason to panic that time! – René