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Alaska Cruise Experts: Ports of Call Tips

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Caribbean Cruise Discounts!

Alaska Cruise Experts: Ports of Call Tips

By Victor Anicama


When the ship arrives in port, it will either dock at the pier or anchor slightly offshore. You may think that when the ship docks right at the pier you can walk must be signed, and local authorities must give their clearance, a process that can take as long as 2 hours. Donít bother going down to the gangplank until you hear an announcement saying the ship has been cleared.

If your ship anchors rather than docks (which ships usually will do in Alaska), you will go ashore in a small boat called a launch or tender, which ties up next to your ship and shuttles passengers back and forth all day. Getting on the tender may require a helping hand from crew members, and the waves may keep the tender swaying, sometimes requiring passengers to literally jump to get aboard.

Whether the ship is docked or anchored, you are in no way required to get off at every port of call. The shipís restaurants will remain open, and there will be activities offered, though usually on a limited basis. If you do get off, before you reboard you may want to use the phones at the docks to call home. This is much cheaper than making calls from the ship. But be prepared to wait for a phone. No matter how many telephones there are on the pier, you will invariably find that off-duty members of the crew, who generally get off the ship earlier than passengers, have beaten you to them. Itís an interesting exercise to stand near a dozen public telephones and listen to the Filipino, cockney, French, Norwegian, and other languages and dialects being spoken by the users.


You must bring your ship boarding pass (or shipboard ID) with you when you disembark or you will have trouble getting back on board. You may also be required to show a photo ID or driverís license (the ship will let you know if you have to carry this as well). And also donít forget to bring a little cash?Ä"although your ship operates on a cashless system, the ports do not. Many passengers get so used to carrying no cash or credit cards while aboard ship that they forget them when going ashore.


If youíre going off on your own, whether on foot or on one of the alternate tours or transportation options that weíve listed, remember to be very careful about timing. Cruise lines are very strict about sailing times, which will be posted around the ship. Youíre generally required to be back at the dock at least a half hour before the shipís scheduled departure. Passengers running late on one of the lineís shore excursions neednít worry: If an excursion runs late, the ship accepts responsibility and wonít leave without the late passengers.

If youíre on your own and do miss the boat, immediately contact the cruise line representative at the port. Youíll probably be able to catch your ship at the next port of call, but youíll have to pay your own way to get there.

Alaska Cruise Experts, your source for information on Alaska Cruises, Ports of Call, Packing tips and more.



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