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Cruise Life: How To Pick and Plan A Day At Port

As you know, the first week in February Andrew and I were so lucky to spend a week in the Bahamas and Virgin Islands with Princess Cruises. A big part of that week was that three of the days were port days. I previously wrote about how we spent our days at sea, but the days at port were a completely different story. How to pick and plan a day at port was something very new to us, and honestly at first we really didn’t know where to begin. Thankfully I married a man who can research the heck out of anything. Today I am sharing our tips for how to pick and plan a day at port.

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Step 1 – Know Your Location: We knew that we would be visiting Princess Cays, Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten, so we knew where to start. We also knew how long we would be there. Meaning that we knew what times the ship was docking and what time the ship would be leaving the port in the evening. This is helpful in being able to decide how far out you can go and how many activities you can do. We also research different aspects of each location. Were they more beach focused? Were they more intense activity focused? Tour focused? etc. Once you know a bit about your location you can feel confident enough to go to Step 2.

Step 2 – Research The Excursions: You can book a variety of excursions through Princess Cruises for each port. Once you have your trip booked through Princess you have an account and access to a reservations portal where you can book beverage packages, spa visits, dinner times, and excursions! So you are able to see every single excursion available to you through Princess. This is a huge help and time saver. From here you can research the types of excursions they have. You can see the amount of time each excursion is and figure out your day that way. It was nice being able to book our excursions directly through Princess so we didn’t have to worry about finding third-party companies and worrying about where to go, how to handle payments, and if they were reputable. Another thing to check is to see if the cruise ship docks directly at the port, or if they use a tender (one of the small boats on the side of a ship that ferry passengers to and from the port). In ports that require the use of a tender, make sure to account for extra time as there may be lines to board back onto the cruise.

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Step 3 – Decide Your MUST DO/SEE Activities: So for me, one thing I absolutely wanted to do was go paddle-boarding. For Andrew, he wanted to go the Magens Bay in St. Thomas. For these MUST DO activities it was really easy to plan those days. This was especially helpful since both things were offered through Princess Cruises! Once you decide the things you HAVE to do it makes planning simple.

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Step 4 – Make Your Decisions: For Princess Cays (a private island owned by Princess Cruise Line) we booked a locker for our valuables, floats for the water, a clamshell to relax in, paddle-boarding, and water bikes! We knew we wanted to spend most of the day relaxing and enjoying the water. Andrew also brought his snorkel gear so it was easy for him to go right from the beach to snorkel. We also knew it would be the perfect place to try some new things, like paddle-boarding and water bikes! (really wish I had pics of us doing that!) For St. Thomas, Andrew really wanted to snorkel in Magens Bay and I wanted to lay in a chair and read. After we researched everything it made those decisions so much easier to make.

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Step 5 – Pack Accordingly: I had a crossbody Lululmeon bag that I brought on the trip specifically for port days. It was durable, had lots of pockets and is super easy to clean if it gets dirty! We also loaded up on bug spray since you know the Zika Virus is everywhere right now! Sunscreen, sunnies, a hat to keep my face safe from the sun, an extra tank top and shorts, and bottles of water. I also took my iPad so I could read on the beach. Make sure you take what you need and nothing more. We also took our ship cards (how you pay for everything and enter and exit the ship and your room), a little bit of cash and a credit card. It’s also really important to bring some form of government ID as some ports require it to get to the cruise docks. Other than that we really didn’t take much!

Knowing how to pick and plan a day at port becomes much easier after you research properly. I hope these tips are helpful if you are planning a cruise in the future. We are really looking forward to our next cruise and more ports and excursions!

Fore more cruise life posts see:

What a cruise taught me about marriage

How to make the most of a day at sea

7 Things No One Tells You About Cruises

Chefs Table Lumiere Inspired Ceviche Recipe 

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Princess Cruises. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support It Starts With Coffee. 

Leave a Comment

30 Comments

  1. Cara wrote:

    These posts are so helpful! I can’t wait until our family takes a cruise next Winter, I’m so excited! 🙂

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  2. I don’t think I ever picked an excursion I didn’t have a great time at. These are good ideas particularly if you’ve never cruised before and don’t know what to pick.

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  3. Chelsea wrote:

    SO AWESOME. Going on a Cruise is totally on my bucket list. We are thinking of maybe doing one for our honeymoon!

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  4. Jenna wrote:

    I love cruises, I’ve always had some of the best experiences with excursions (caving, jungle treks, ATV tours) they can always lead to something new and exciting. Sometimes we choose to do no excursions and hang out in town or at the beach, but of course that depends on location!

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  5. Amanda wrote:

    OMG this looks like you had so much fun! I have been dying to go on another cruise and can’t wait til next year after graduation when I can!

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  6. I love cruising it’s the best way to travel! Excursions and the day at the port are a ton of fun and a great way to explore new countries and towns.

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  7. How amazing! What a perfect way to get away from everything with your husband and no distractions of cell phones or computers for the most part. Enjoy every moment!

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  8. tianna wrote:

    this sounds like so much fun! definitely need to go on a cruise 😀

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  9. Siniciliya wrote:

    Your photos look fantastic! I have never been in cruise before but would really love to go
    http://www.siniciliya.com

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  10. We just got off our cruise last week! We had two port stops, one in Nassau and one at Disney’s private island. We wanted to make this trip as relaxing as possible so we didn’t plan too much. Nassau we’d been to before so we actually just stayed on the ship and enjoyed the spa and the pool. On Castaway Cay we did do their 5k run in the morning but spent the rest of the day on the beach . Such a good time!

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  11. I have been wanting to go on a cruise for years now. As far as bringing your own gear for things like snorkeling, I would have wondered if it were too bulky to travel with or just cheaper to rent.

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  12. Kailei wrote:

    This is great! We are planning a cruise in the next year, and these are great ideas for a day at port! Thank you.

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  13. Mistle wrote:

    I love going on cruises. I have never been on a Princess ship though, we always book with Carnival. It is so important to research and plan ahead of time for doing excursions. Having something to carry stuff in that is durable and can carry a lot of things is also great. Really great tips!

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  14. First of all, I love your blog name! Also, I was admiring your theme and colors when I realized we have the same theme! Haha good taste!
    Anyway,
    That trip looks super fun!!! We’re planning our spring vacation and we just got flights and hotel settled, now it’s time to plan activities!!!

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  15. Meghan wrote:

    These are great tips for anyone traveling anywhere. I’m lucky that my husband is a big planner too. One our honeymoon we had hardly any downtime because of all the things we did, places we ate, and things we saw. We’re both goers, so that worked our for us! This looks like so much fun!

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  16. So so fun! Such great tips too 🙂 We went on a cruise in January as well

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  17. Trish wrote:

    Great tips – thanks! I enjoyed reading about your cruise … and your pics are terrific, too!

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  18. I love cruises so much! Port days are my favorite because I enjoy spending time in new places. It’s hard to see everything in the short amount of time. Love your tips!

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  19. What great tips! I love cruising as a fun way to see a lot at one time. There is always so much adventure in the excursions!

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  20. Scott wrote:

    On our first cruise we did nothing in port other than lie on the beach. It was the best way to experience our first cruise!

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  21. These are such great tips! I love to cruise! 🙂

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  22. Ashleigh wrote:

    Oh how fun!! You guys look like you had a wonderful time! I have always wanted to go on a cruise to the Bahamas! Thank you for sharing your adventure!!

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  23. These are awesome tips. I don’t usually like cruises because I never feel like there’s enough time at the port, so I love the idea of planning to make the most out of that time.

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

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  24. Researching the excursions is really important. It’s a great idea to have all of your desired activities in place way in advance.

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  25. Crystal wrote:

    Picking our must do activities is a must for all family vacations. There just aren’t enough hours in the day! Can’t wait to go in our next cruise!

    Published 3.5.16
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  26. Emma wrote:

    So jealous. I’ve never been on a cruise but have always wanted to go. You make it look so incredible here! 🙂

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  27. Jasmine wrote:

    I’ve never been on a cruise but I know we are planning one soon. These tips will definitely help!

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  28. Caroline wrote:

    My husband and I went on a cruise once, love the concept and visiting many places but we are sea sick. Not fun!

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  29. You’re so blessed and I’m so glad of it. I’ve never been in a cruise in my entire life, I wish I can bring my whole family in a cruise one day if I have a chance. I love all of your pics.

    Published 3.6.16
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