A stopover on a cruise is a planned docking at various points of interest that allows people taking cruises to more closely visit cities or sometimes private islands or wildlife preserves. When taking a cruise, it’s a good idea to not just research the cruise, but also any stopover locations so you can plan time to visit the major attractions at those locations. It’s also very important to have your passport with you if you want to get off the cruise ship. Note that laws for passports have changed and Mexico and Canada now both require American citizens to have passports prior to entering their countries. Therefore, if you plan to disembark at a stopover, you may very well need your passport to do so, and cruise ships may further require you to bring your passport in case of an unplanned stop or docking.
Stopovers can last from a few hours to several days and usually correspond to the length of the cruise. Two-week or longer cruises may have several stopovers, or may dock for a couple of days at cities or locations with quite a few attractions to visit. Short cruises of less than a week may offer a single stopover, and duration of docking can be limited to a few hours. When the cruise docks for several days, you may opt to stay on the ship, or occasionally travelers go inland and stay at resorts or hotels off the ship.
In addition to researching locations for stopovers, the smart cruiser knows that he or she will save money by walking several blocks inland before shopping or taking transportation. Taxis, restaurants, and shops close to the ship’s dock point tend to be most expensive. If you’re stopping in a city location, try walking about three to four blocks away from the ship for better prices.
A cruise stopover may offer you opportunities to take guided tours of locations. If you haven’t researched your trip in advance, this may be a good way to see the major sights. It also guarantees that you get back to the ship prior to it setting off for its next location. It’s very important to stay attuned to the time frame you have to visit a location. Make sure that your watch is set to correspond with the time on the cruise ship and don’t depend upon clocks at stopover destinations, since time zones may differ. When you know the specific hours available to visit stopovers, you might want to set your watch to alarm an hour or two before you have to get back to the ship.
If you’re having a difficult time with seasickness, and you’ve just resolved it on the ship, stopovers may be to your detriment. It can take a while to get your “land legs” back after several days on a ship, and you may then have to readjust to the ship’s movement once you return to the ship. If seasickness is a significant problem, you might want to skip disembarking from the ship at a stopover and remain on the ship. There are plenty of people who don’t get off the ship at stopovers and there are a wealth of activities on board for those who don’t want to visit a city. On the other hand, cruise ships only allow you the opportunity to see interesting locations from aboard ship, and stopovers can greatly enrich a trip by giving you a close-up experience of a city, fantastic island, or natural location.