Shore leave is one of the most awaited benefits for people with cruise ship jobs. It’s where many of the memories are made and Instagram pictures are taken. Cruise ships stop at beautiful ports of call around the world, so taking advantage of shore leave and exploring the place is on every crew member’s to-do list. Here are a few things to think of when you’re planning to go ashore.
Experience the local
Because culture is so different around the world, shore leave gives you the chance to discover new things. Cruise ship chefs in particular should take the opportunity to taste local dishes and exotic ingredients hard to find in other parts of the world.
There could be craft beers or local liquor, a specific type of seafood, fruit or vegetable. These will help open your tastebuds to new flavour combinations that may come in handy if you decide to start your own venture. Experience counts.
Take a trip to the local supermarket and pick up a few essentials. While cruise ship crew have access to a store that offers items for a more discounted rate than passengers, you may still not enjoy the variety you do on land. If you have a particular sunscreen or toothpaste you use, it is worth a trip to the local store to stock up.
In particular, getting a hold of medication is easier on land. Just remember to carry your prescription as many pharmacies in western countries are averse to selling drugs without them.
Items like clothes and souvenirs will probably be more expensive on land, so save these for a special purchase.
It’s important to note that while every port is a tourist destination, there are local customs and traditions that deserve your respect. It is never alright to enter a place of worship dressed in a swimming costume or even shorts, so always carry a wrap around you can use to cover up.
Learn about the local laws and traditions so you can be mindful as you enjoy your time in port. Take photocopies of necessary documents with you when you go ashore in case you need to show a law enforcement officer. Never litter, even if a dustbin is not easily available or you see other trash on the street. Carry your trash back with you to dispose on board or at the nearest available opportunity.
Avoid unruly drunken behaviour and walk away from stressful situations that may lead to brawls, even if you are not at fault. Police may side with the locals and the last thing you want is a night in jail in a foreign country.
Treat everyone with respect and they will surely return the favour.
Get in touch with home
Getting out in port is a great chance to make contact with home. Cruise ships often have expensive internet connections, so in port you can make cheaper video calls to relatives and friends.
Keep the bonds of friendship and family alive, so you can easily pick up where you left off when you come home, and those you have left behind can feel loved and remembered.
Take advantage of crew excursions
Cruise ships try to keep crew happy and one of the ways they do so is organising excursions in port. These are separate from passenger excursions and can be much cheaper. You can get the chance to see local monuments, relax at a beach and generally have a good time without worrying about guests.
These are mostly organised by big cruise ship companies and should there be a delay, the ship will wait for you.
Keep an eye on the time
This is important during those times when you do not go ashore on a ship excursion. Always ensure you get back to the ship at the designated time, which is usually an hour before scheduled departure. If you miss the ship in this case, it will go on without you. You will have to pay for transport back to the ship and your contract may be terminated.