Cruising Feature

What Happens When You Miss A Port?

MS Volendam at Anchor

A cruise holiday can be an excellent option to see a lot of great places without as much hassle. The majority of the time everything goes as planned and the ship visits all of the ports on the itinerary. However, as with everything, there are times when things can go wrong, and a change to the itinerary happens.

Do Cruise Ships Miss Port Calls?

The short answer to this question is that yes cruise ships do miss port calls. Weather is the most common reason that cruise ships miss port calls. However, there can be other reasons as well which will depend on luck or circumstances.

Just how weather can affect the cruise though depends on a couple of different factors. Where severe weather such a cyclone or hurricane is forecast you could see the itinerary changed before you get aboard. On the other hand, if it is just poor conditions on the day, the port might be missed at the last minute.

Another Sea Day

If your cruise arrives near to a port and the current weather conditions prevent them from docking, there is a good chance that you will get another day at sea.

When I was on a South Pacific cruise, this is what occurred at one port. The ship arrived near the port in the morning, but due to the weather conditions, the captain decided that the ship could not anchor. As a result, the ship continued cruising, and we had another day at sea.

Sun Princess - Mystery Island

Because this can occur at the last moment, you will often wonder what there is to do. But the entertainment crew will usually put together a program of events somewhat similar to a regular sea day. However, it might just take a little time to get those updates out to the passengers.

An Alternate Port

If the weather forecast is bad well in advance, the ship may deviate to an alternate port or arrive early into the next port. Often the options are limited and will depend on many factors but with enough notice they can sometimes work something out.

I have not personally experienced this, but do know of people who had had their whole itinerary changed due to possible bad weather. It can occur especially in areas such as the South Pacific or the Caribbean due to cyclone’s or hurricanes. In one case I had a friend who was booked to visit the South Pacific Islands, and the itinerary was changed to visit Tasmania.

Extra Time In Port

Very similar to getting to visit an alternate port is getting extra time in a port. Usually, this will be the result of a forecast for poor conditions the next day where there is an ability to arrive early into a port. I have experienced this on two occasions now.

The first time was after crossing the Pacific the ship was supposed to visit the port of Eden, just south of Sydney. Due to extremely high winds and the fact that Eden is a tender port it would have been impractical to visit. The result was the ship arrived one day early into Sydney.

The second time was somewhat similar but was a part of my third cruise. After departing Lisbon, the next port should have been Portimao, Portugal. However, at the time ships needed to anchor and Tenders were used to get ashore. Due to poor weather conditions, this would not have been possible. The result was that the ship headed directly to the next port of call which was Cadiz, Spain. Instead of spending one day in port, we arrived the day before and got an extra half day in port plus time overnight.

Cadiz - Fountain & Nieuw Amsterdam


To date, my experience is that you don’t get any compensation when a port is cancelled or changed. Depending upon the exact circumstances sometimes you might get a small credit for some port charges. But this will heavily depend upon the circumstances around which port you missed and what the outcome is. But to put it simply I would not expect to get any compensation.

Enjoy The Cruise

I can understand how disappointing it is to miss a port of call on a cruise. To date, I have missed a total three ports. While they were places that I would have enjoyed visiting, I made the most of the situation as it was. In different circumstances, I got to enjoy more time onboard or more time in port. It is always a matter of the situation is what you make of it.

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