However, while you are wandering around a new city or port it's easy to lose track of time - and cruise ships won't always wait.
Rules differ between cruise lines, but captains will take into account the number of people missing, the planned arrival times and other factors before deciding to leave someone behind.
(The exception is if you're on an excursion organised by the ship, in which case they will wait for you).
So what do you do if you lose track of time, and find yourself still ashore while your ship sails away? It's understandably a stressful situation, but it doesn't necessarily mean your holiday is over, or that you're stuck. Check out our guide - including top things to take with you each time you step off the ship.
Things you should carry
Copies of travel documents:Your passport, driver's licenses, credit cards (both sides). If you're planning on leaving any of these in your cabin, it's worth taking copies with you. Keep them separate just in case of pick pockets though!
List of important phone numbers:have the phone numbers of your cruise ship, port agent (these are often listed on the daily schedules on board), your cruise line/tour operator's customer service department, and your travel insurance provider.
What to do if you miss the cruise ship
You've missed the ship. So what do you do now? Here are the first steps to take...
1. Find the port agent
The ships' port agents will be able to help stranded passengers sort their onward travel, including flights and hotel bookings at the next destination where you can meet the ship.
Unfortunately, this will all be at your own expense.
2. Call the ship
No, calling the ship won't mean it will turn back to come and get you.
But it will be useful as they will know where you are, and you can find out where the ship is headed so you can catch it up.It's also worth asking what they've done with your belongings. Some cruise lines see that passengers are late and pack up their stuff to leave at the port, while others keep belongings on board.
Check so that if you do catch the cruise ship up at the next port of call, you don't find out your belongings were left back at the other stop!
3. Contact your tour operator and travel insurance provider
Get that list of phone numbers out, and contact your tour operator/cruise line's customer service, and your travel insurance provider. They should be able to help you make arrangements to get to the next port of call including flights if necessary, as well as hotels when an overnight stay is required. Again, unfortunately this will be at your own expense.
4. In some cases, accept defeat
You may want to accept defeat and make travel arrangements to get home. (Or, if you do need a silver lining, plan an impromptu stay at the port where you've ended up). If you do decide to return home and your belongings are on the ship, you'll need to get in touch with the cruise line. They will usually ship these back to your address - but again, this will be at your expense.