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Reasons Smart Cruisers Choose to Stay Onboard During Port Days


Though part of the allure of cruising is visiting multiple places within a single vacation, the ship itself is often considered a destination in and of itself. 

From world-class dining to entertainment options that rival those in major cities, cruise ships offer numerous onboard experiences for guests to enjoy. Because the ship is essentially a floating playground, passengers may not always feel the need to disembark in port. 

If you are torn, here are 8 reasons you should consider staying onboard during port days. 

You need a day to rest and recharge, especially on a port-intensive itinerary


Even on cruises that seem to be jam-packed from sun up to sun down, you have to prioritize rest at some point. Otherwise, you may crash and burn halfway through your trip.

Between late-night events, early mornings, and long days ashore, it's easy to deprive yourself of sleep. Those who aren't well-rested won't be able to fully enjoy everything that their sailing has to offer. 

If you know that you're more of a night owl, consider staying onboard to catch up on your rest. Even though you aren't exploring the port, you won't be bored! Ships have plenty of programming to keep those who stay aboard entertained.

By spending the day relaxing, you'll be fully charged for a lively night out! If you're in the sun, just make sure that you don't get too burnt, as that could easily ruin the rest of your vacation. 

Read more: 10 tips to make your next cruise healthier

The pool deck is less crowded


Perhaps the biggest advantage of staying onboard in port is that there'll be fewer guests onboard. Those who are a fan of lounging on the lido deck will enjoy the abundance of open chairs and space to spread out in the pool(s) and hot tubs. 

Chair hogs are, unfortunately, common on sea days. Late risers will head up to the pool deck to find the majority of chairs either in use or reserved by passengers who are elsewhere on the ship. 

Port days are the best time to take advantage of the pool deck, especially if you aren't a fan of crowds. As someone who frequently cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean, I tend to stay onboard when visiting Nassau. While there are plenty of excursions and tours you can do, I find that saving money for other ports and enjoying the relatively empty pool deck works best for me. 

Read more: How to beat the crowds on your cruise ship

Discounts on spa treatments


Spa treatments are some of the most expensive add-ons. Though you'll spend more on drink packages, the benefits last far longer than an hour-long massage or facial. 

An easy way to save money and still pamper yourself is by booking treatments for port days, as there are often specials available as an incentive to keep guests onboard. 

On embarkation day, make sure you carve out some time to visit the spa to see what deals they're offering. Even if they don't have any on the first day, it doesn't hurt to keep checking throughout your sailing. 

Read more: 16 hidden cruise ship extra charges you should know about

Enjoy all the onboard attractions with minimal wait times


Today's newest and biggest ships are truly a playground for adrenaline seekers. From zip lines to go-karts, free-fall water slides, ice skating rinks, surfing simulators, roller coasters, and so much more, it may be hard to cram everything in, especially if you're spending a lot of time ashore. 

The majority of passengers will aim to cross everything off their must-do list on sea days, making lines for the most popular attractions pretty long. Rather than spend time waiting, consider staying onboard and taking advantage of the short lines, allowing you to experience all the thrilling activities at ease. 

Embarkation day is another great time to begin enjoying all the onboard activities. With guests arriving throughout the day and prioritizing grabbing a bite to eat and settling into their cabin, you can dive into all of the excitement with fewer crowds. 

Read more: 19 things to do on a cruise that don't involve eating, drinking, or gambling

You'll have more time to utilize your beverage package


Drink packages are popular cruise add-ons because they allow you to enjoy either a fixed amount or unlimited beverages each day of your cruise for a set price, rather than purchasing each individually. While there are pros and cons to drink packages, many cruisers enjoy the convenience of not worrying about checking their onboard account frequently. 

Unfortunately, the convenience doesn't extend ashore. Though some cruise lines, namely Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, allow passengers to use their drink packages at their private destinations, most mainstream cruise lines do not. 

If you happen to be cruising on a Carnival ship to Half Moon Cay, you'll have to pay for all your drinks on the island, in addition to what you paid for their CHEERS! Package. By staying onboard, you can effectively get the most value out of your package, as you can enjoy your tropical fruity cocktails at no extra cost. 

You've already been to the cruise port before 


Those who frequently cruise to one region of the world, whether it's The Bahamas, Mediterranean, or Alaska, will likely have sailed to at least one port of call more than once; I cannot count how many times I've been to St. Maarten and Perfect Day at CocoCay

Even though there's always more to explore, choosing to spend the day onboard at a repeat port will allow you to delve deeper into everything the ship has to offer, rather than rushing off to explore familiar places. 

Since it's your vacation, you are not obligated to book an excursion if you don't want to. That's one of the best things about a cruise— you can make it whatever you want it to be! There's no wrong way to take a cruise so long as you feel like you're making the most out of your time onboard. 

Plus, by choosing to remain on the ship, you're saving money that you can put towards a more expensive excursion at another port. 

Read more: 11 common cruise shore excursion mistakes to avoid

Fewer crowds at the buffet


The buffet is one of the complimentary dining venues onboard any mainstream cruise ship, excluding Virgin Voyages. On sea days, it can get pretty busy, especially around peak meal times. 

Though it's still a popular spot for breakfast on port days, you'll find significantly fewer people in the buffet for lunch, making it ideal for those who want to grab something to eat in peace. 

You will be able to leisurely browse all of the options and will likely experience quicker service. It's a great opportunity to sample a variety of dishes or indulge in your current go-to. 

Prompt service 


Cruise lines pride themselves on delivering a memorable experience to all passengers, with service being one of the most important factors. Though the goal is never to make guests wait for long, lines can form at peak times. I once waited about half an hour for a drink during sailaway while cruising onboard Carnival Celebration

With fewer guests onboard, crew members will be able to serve you quickly, whether you're waiting for a beverage by the pool or have a question for the Guest Services team. 

Staying onboard while the ship is in port gives you the opportunity to relax and enjoy the full cruise experience, with the added benefit of shorter wait times. 

Read more: 5 Reasons to Stay on Your Cruise Ship in Port

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