Choosing a Cruise:
Time in Port vs Days At Sea

It's not just where a ship goes that's important. How long is it there?

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Time in Port:
How Long Are You On Each Island?

One of my favorite all-time cruises was aboard a Holland America ship out of Tampa, FL, where we visited 9 islands in 14 days. Did we keep on moving!

We not only visited lots of islands, we spent almost a full day in each port.

It doesn't do much good to spend only 4 to 5 hours at a destination unless you want to shop or have a special interest already picked out, such as golf or diving.

How many hours is a ship actually in port? Subtract 90-120 minutes from that time. It may take as much as an hour to disembark, especially if everyone has to be tendered in. And you want to be back aboard at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure.

What time does your ship arrive? A 7 a.m. arrival does you no good if you intend to shop. Almost nothing opens before 9 a.m. A 2 p.m. arrival doesn't leave much beach or touring time. The brightest sun is often gone shortly after 5 p.m.

What days of the week are you in port? On Sundays, many port cities are dead and most stores are closed. When there were fewer cruise ships in the Caribbean, stores often would stay open on Sundays because the presence of a ship was something special. Not any more. Saturdays are the day most islands have their big fruit and vegetable markets.

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