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On a Cruise, what is a Stopover?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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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.

WiseTour is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseTour contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Animandel — On Apr 29, 2014

I have taken many cruises. Initially, the stopovers were a big attraction for me. I would actually plan the trip based on the places where the ship wold be stopping. Now when I go a cruise, I am more likely than not to remain on the trip for the entire voyage.

Getting on and off the trip can be a hassle, especially getting off when the lines are the longest, but because of security getting back on can be time consuming as well.

Another negative regarding getting off the ship is all the locals who are looking to prey on the tourists. In some places, the vendors and the service people can be very rude when you don't buy anything or agree to let them assist you in some way.

The last thing I want when I am on vacation is someone screaming at me because I wouldn't let him give me an over-priced bike ride.

By Feryll — On Apr 28, 2014

A couple years ago I took my first cruise. I wasn't overly excited about the trip, but my friend who loves cruises insisted I go. Also, I did feel like I should try at least one cruise in my life. This way I would be able to say with certainty whether or not I like cruises.

While there were quite a few things to do on the ship, I was not overly impressed. Mostly I worked out in the exercise room and ate way more than I should have. What the food lacked in quality was made up for in quantity.

Actually, I began to feel trapped on the ship, but fortunately we soon arrived at out first stopover, which was in Mexico. The beaches were nice. The best part of the stopover and the best part of the trip was a horse ride we took in Mexico. We took a long trail ride through the jungle and to an old church and several ruins.

We also had another stopover later on to break up the ocean travel. For me, the stopovers were the best part of the cruise. I would be willing to go on another cruise, but only if there are several stops and interesting on-shore activities.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseTour contributor, Tricia...
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