Port days: All you need to know about port days-Gallivanting Souls

Tips For Port Days and Shore Excursions on Your Cruise

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Port days and shore excursions are a huge part of the cruise experience. In fact, most people will choose their cruise based on the destinations it visits. But how do you make the most of your port days? What do you need to know about shore excursions? Is it OK to just stay on board the ship? Don’t worry, I’ve got it all covered. I did all the hard research for you during my recent trip on board the stunning new Sky Princess ship.

How Port Days Work

The Sky Princess in port at Kotor, Montenegro.

Port days are great for getting a taster of a city/country. You have a day or two to soak up the atmosphere and culture and decide what you think of the place. Then if you like, you can always revisit.

You have a few options when it comes to port days. You can either book yourself a shore excursion (which we’ll talk about in more depth later), stay on the ship for the day, explore the port city by yourself or even a mix of both.

When it comes to port days there is a set first disembarkation time. Sometimes as early as 7.30am. But you can disembark at any time after the start time. However, the earlier you disembark, the less likely that there will be queues. When Sky Princess stopped at Kotor, Montenegro I left the ship around 9.00am and there were no queues for the tender boat.

There will also be a set time that you must embark by. Definitely take note of that if you’re heading off the ship, the last thing anyone needs to worry about is missing their ship.

The views from the tender boat as we headed to port from the Sky Princess.

Depending on the port you might be able to simply walk off the ship and into the port city, like Tallinn, Estonia. Other cities you can walk off the ship but you’ll need to get public transport or a taxi into the centre of the city, like Dublin, Ireland.

At some ports you’ll need to get what they call a “tender boat” to the port city like Kotor, Montenegro. I quite liked this as it gives you a great view of the ship, but it can lead to queues at time.

Before you disembark the ship they’ll usually swipe your card or tap your OceanMedallion™ and give you the time of final embarkation, then you’re free to head off ship and start exploring.

Staying on Board During a Port Day

Chilling back on the ship while at port in Kotor, Montenegro.

Ok, so I know that the whole point of a cruise for most people is to see multiple destinations, BUT, some people take cruises for the ship and the R&R. Honestly, I don’t blame them. Having experienced the Sky Princess, I totally understand the appeal of booking a cruise solely to enjoy the ship.

So, with that in mind, during my port day in Kotor, Montenegro I decided to spend half the day in the city and then come back early to enjoy the ship while the majority of people were still exploring Kotor.

My time on the ship while everyone else was in Kotor was INCREDIBLE. It felt like I had the ship to myself, I certainly had the hot tub to myself! I grabbed a frozen margarita and a slice of pizza, chatted to the staff and lounged around by the pool. It was glorious.

Relaxing on the ship while everyone else is exploring the port can be VERY relaxing.

If you do choose to stay on board during a port day it’s a GREAT time to book a spa treatment as there is usually more availability. It’s also a great time to enjoy the relaxing adult-only areas of the ship such as The Sanctuary on Sky Princess.

You can simply wander around the ship and enjoy the peace and quiet, or maybe order some room service on the MedallionClass™ app. If you’ve got any work to do, it’s the perfect time to get that done without any distractions.

Also, there is no shame in staying on board the ship during a port day. You can enjoy your trip any which way you want to. Just because a stop is on the itinerary doesn’t mean you have to get off the ship. The ship is like a floating city in itself anyway. I could have stayed on the Sky Princess for weeks without getting off and I would never have gotten bored.

Everything You Need to Know About Shore Excursions

Visiting the Acropolis, Greece while in port at Athens.

Make sure to do your research about your port destination in advance. That way you can pick the perfect shore excursion for you. Ideally you should book in advance to make sure that you get your chosen shore excursion, sometimes popular ones will book up quickly.

However, you can still book pretty much right up until the day before your port day. If you are on a Princess Cruises MedallionClass™ ship then you can book your shore excursions via the MedallionClass™ app.

Read all about the MedallionClass™ app and benefits – HERE.

If you’re on a Princess Cruise I highly recommend that you use the official tours recommended by Princess. I used to think differently as I knew you could save money booking by yourself. HOWEVER, the official companies endorsed by Princess Cruises will always make sure to get you back on time for final embarkation.

Plus Princess Cruises offer a sort of price match guarantee. If you find a cheaper excursion elsewhere then Princess Cruises will give you 110% of the price difference in the form of on-board credit.

Booking via your cruise company is safer and gives you peace of mind. You don’t want to be one of those people who ends up running to catch their cruise ship.

If you do book a shore excursion the buses will be waiting for you when you arrive at port. The buses are usually branded and will have a sign on the front of them saying which tour they are for. If you’re not sure ask one of the ground staff at the port and they can point you in the right direction.

In some ports you’ll find crowds of local guides and tour operators waiting for you, trying to convince you to join their tour. This can be off-putting, but remember, this is how they make their living. Just smile, politely say “No, thank you!” and move on to your pre-booked tour.

This is a tender boat leaving the ship which will bring you to port depending on the port city.

Before your shore excursion make sure that you’re prepared – pack snacks, a bottle of water, sunscreen and any other essentials that you’ll need for the day. Side note, you’re not allowed to take coffee cups off the ship and into port. I found that out the hard way.

I had one coffee for me and one for a friend (who was already at port) so I had to neck my one and just dump the other one. VERY SAD TIMES. So, please, learn from my mistake – don’t let my wasted coffee be in vain!

Always make sure that you have some local currency with you too. There will be an ATM on board your ship or there is usually one close to the port. Most places take card now, but cash can come in handy for tips and is still a necessity in some ports.

My Port Day in Kotor, Montengero

Hiking for the views in Kotor, Montenegro. Sky Princess in the background.

During my trip on board the Sky Princess we visited Kotor, Montenegro. Like I mentioned before, I had already decided to spend half the day in port and half the day relaxing back on the ship.

I disembarked around 9am, hopped on the tender boat and headed into the winding streets of Kotor. My first stop was the hike up to the fortress (Castle of San Giovanni) which probably took me about 3hrs round trip. There was an €8 entrance fee which had to be paid in cash (I told you cash would come in handy).

The hike itself could be done in 2hrs if you weren’t stopping for photos, but I was, of course. There were a couple of stalls along the way selling refreshments. Cats sat around lazily watching hikers huffing and puffing their way up hundreds of stone stairs.

The streets of Kotor, Montenegro are highly photogenic.

The views of Kotor and our ship, the Sky Princess, from the various viewpoints were phenomenal. Sure, I was sweating profusely and my legs were like jelly, but it was definitely worth it.

After I was finished the hike I had a coffee and then explored the old town a bit. But then I wanted my alone time on the ship. Everyone else was heading out on boats or for a longer hike, but not me, I was off to catch me a tender boat back to the ship.

Check out the full list of shore excursions available with Princess Cruises in Kotor, Montenegro – HERE.

When I was back on the ship I chilled out in the hot tub with incredible views of Montenegro behind me. Then I grabbed a slice of pizza and a frozen margarita and chilled on the sun loungers. After that I checked out the lunch buffet before heading back to chill in my cabin. It was so relaxing.

I think I got the best of both worlds by exploring the port city of Kotor and also heading back to ship early to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Final Thoughts

So, in short, port days and shore excursions are a great way to get a taster of a new city or country. But they are also great for a chilled out day on the ship. How you choose to spent your port day is entirely up to you. No mater what you decide I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I certainly loved my experiences both on board and in port with Princess Cruises.

DISCLAIMER – My trip on board the Sky Princess was sponsored by Princess Cruises. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are, as always, my own.


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11 Best Reasons to Stay on the Cruise Ship When in Port

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Have you ever thought of staying on your cruise ship when in port? Many cruisers wonder if they should do this, or even if it’s allowed.

Experienced cruisers know that there are a few great reasons to occasionally stay on board, and not get off the cruise ship in some ports of call.

Can You Stay On the Cruise Ship in Port?

You can stay on the cruise ship when in port. In fact, it’s a pro cruiser “secret” to let others get off the cruise ship, while they enjoy a quiet and less crowded day onboard! When staying on board the cruise, you can relax and enjoy the cruise ship amenities and activities. It’s also a great day to sleep in or take advantage of spa and salon promotions that often happen on port days..

Reasons to Stay on a Cruise Ship in a Port of Call

1. Relax and Recharge

Traveling by cruise ship is amazing.  You get to see many destinations and experience a taste of different ports of call. However cruising also about relaxing and recharging.

If you’ve had a busy cruise going to all the shows and waking up early for excursions, you may need a true vacation day. Consider staying on the ship while in port so that you can sleep in and have a leisurely day. Eat breakfast late and enjoy a slower pace, read a book or check out the onboard activities in a much quieter environment.

2. Waterslides, Ziplines & Race Cars

Some ships are truly destinations all their own. If you’re on a big resort style cruise ship, you simply won’t be able to try out all the amazing activities on a 7 day cruise.

On regular sea days, you can expect big line ups for all the best and most popular attractions. Every activity from water-slides, to surfing pools, to race cars will be busy.

The nice thing about staying on board when the ship is docked in port, is that most people won’t do this. You will have the run of the ship, which is especially useful on some of the incredible family style cruise ships from Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line.

3. Repeat Cruise Ports

If you’ve been to a cruise port before, don’t feel bad about not getting off the ship one time. Unless you really love a destination, once you’ve seen it a couple times, you may be better off enjoying all the amenities on your cruise ship.

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4. Spa Specials

Did you know that cruise ships offer discounts and special promotions at the spa, as well as in other venues on port days. This is because they’re much less busy as most cruise passengers will be off the ship.

To entice you to book a couples massage or other service, you’ll have some amazing offers. Check into this on embarkation day, as often there may be an extra bonus for signing up early.

Keep in mind that the spa offers many services including massages, acupuncture and even teeth whitening. You may even want to visit the hair salon and treat yourself to a good blowout for the evening.

Recommended: 15 Epic Tips First Time Cruisers Need to Know

5. Check out the Onboard Activities and Restaurants

While onboard activities do slow down on port days, versus sea days, there are still many things to do on board. You can join trivia, dance classes and interesting seminars.

If you like cruise food, check out some of the dining options you haven’t tried yet. These can be casual places that are included but oh-so-good, or specialty restaurants that offer lunch specials on port days.

Recommended: 27 things To Do on a Cruise Sea Day (and not be bored)

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6. Pretend You’re on a Private Yacht

Picture yourself on the Lido deck, with lounge chairs right next the pool. There are perhaps 10 people around. The hot tub is empty. It’s heavenly!

There’s just something about creating a sea day for yourself, while others hustle and bustle on land. No line ups, no crowded elevators, no chair hogs…

Seriously, you’ll have the entire ship almost to yourself! 

7. Take Photos and Videos

If you’re an avid cruiser and want to get some picture perfect shots, staying on the ship on a port day is the way to do it!

You can explore the ship while there are so few people around, that it’s easy to get the photos you want to take. If you create videos of your vacations or are creating a cruise vlog, this is the secret.

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8. Enjoy your Beverage Package

If you have a beverage package, you know that days at sea are the perfect time to use it. Well, you’ll just get more opportunities to try out the different cruise drinks and cocktails if you stay on the ship. 

If you’re cruising with friends, why not get them to join you too? 

What’s included in your Cruise Price (and What’s Not)

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9. Save Money for Excursions

Cruising is a great value, and a lot is included. However one of the cruise extras to plan for are shore excursions. 

One way to manage your cruise budget, is to save money by staying on the ship on some port days, while splurging on favorite excursions on other days.

Recommended: 27 Best Tips to Save Money on a Cruise


Port Intensive Itineraries

If you have a port intensive itinerary, usually any cruise with more port days than sea days, you will be exhausted at some point. You may want to plan in advance to stay on the ship at least once to recoup your energy. 

The worst feeling is ending a vacation feeling like you need another vacation. So keep this in mind and consider if staying onboard the ship is a good idea for you.

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11. No Line Ups

Did I say no line ups? I may have saved the best for last. 

It’s such a pleasure to not have line ups at guest service, in the buffet and for the ship activities. Even the elevators aren’t crowded!

I love cruising, but will admit that I’m not a fan of some of the crowded areas on cruise ships. Staying on the ship while in port, at least once in a while, is a pleasure!

Regular price:

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Video: 8 Reasons to Stay on a Cruise Port and 5 Reasons Not to

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Final Thoughts: 11 Best Reasons to Stay on the Cruise Ship While in Port

Cruise ships are becoming destinations unto themselves, so staying on board while the ship is at a cruise port can be a great idea. From going on a water slide as much as you want, taking advantage of spa specials, to having the luxury of the perfect poolside deck chair – there are many great reasons to avoid getting off at the port.

Have you ever stayed on the cruise ship while in port or would you consider it? If so, what do like to do best? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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1. General provisions \ ConsultantPlus

1. General provisions

1.1. The state administrations (services of captains) of the sea fishing ports of the Russian Federation collect port dues and dues for the services rendered from Russian and foreign vessels visiting these ports, regardless of the flag, departmental affiliation and form of ownership of the vessel.

Tariff rates for fees and services are established by state administrations (services of captains) of sea fishing ports and are approved by the Federal Fishery Committee.

1.2. Ship port dues levied from ships (ship owners) include: ship, berthing, anchor, pilotage and for the use of VTS <*>, lighthouse and mooring dues, fees for registering a ship in the port of registry and for excluding a ship from the state registration documents of the port , fees for violation of the rules of navigation and parking, for the investigation of accidents with ships and canal fees.


<*> Vessel traffic control systems.

1.3. Other fees related to the crews of ships levied in sea fishing ports include: fees for registration of departures of ship crew members abroad and their arrivals from imports, fees for certification and examination of seafarers, certification of ship crew members and seconded persons, fees for notarial actions for registration of documents of legal entities and individuals.

1.4. Fees for additional services provided in ports include: payment for training and certification on simulators: radar, radio communications, life-saving equipment, damage control, use of personal breathing apparatus and light diving equipment, for the reception of bilge water, ship debris, food waste, etc.

1.5. Ship port dues (clause 1.2), fees for registration of departures and arrivals of crew members, for certification and certification of specialists and notarial acts (clause 1.3) are mandatory, paid by all shipowners in an indisputable manner, depend on the actions, carried out by port services and shipowners. Fees charged for services provided by the port (clause 1.4) for training and survey, acceptance of ship’s waste, etc. refer to the contractual relationship between the administration or the service of the Harbor Master and the shipowner.

1.6. Vessels flying the Russian flag pay in rubles. Port dues and dues for services provided to foreign vessels may be paid in foreign currency.

1.7. The currency of settlements for fees and charges for services from ships of the CIS countries is regulated by interstate agreements.

1.8. All fees and charges for services to the vessel and crew members (100%) must be paid before the vessel leaves the port. The Harbor Master has the right to refuse to issue a permit to a ship to leave the port in case of non-payment of the established dues and fees.

1.9. Collection of dues and payments is made, as a rule, from the conditional volume of the vessel, calculated in cubic meters. m and is determined by the product of three quantities indicated in the measuring certificate: the greatest length, the greatest width and the greatest height of the ship’s side.

Fees and charges may also be collected from the gross tonnage of the ship, calculated in gross registered tons, indicated in the ship’s tonnage certificate. The choice of criteria (volume or capacity) in each port is made by the state administration or the port captain’s service and is approved by the Federal Fisheries Committee along with the tariff rates of fees and charges for services. Vessel capacity less than 1000 bbl. reg. tons is taken as 1000 br. reg. tons, except for ships that do not go beyond the port waters, which are charged for the actual tonnage.

For transport ships having two or more decks, and also carrying cargo on the upper deck, the depth used in the calculations should not be less than the half-width of the ship.

1.10. The cost of works and services rendered to vessels at anchor (roadstead) must include additional payment for tugboats and other watercraft of the port at the rates applicable in the port.

1.11. The rates of fees specified in paragraphs. 1.2, 1.3, increase:

– on weekdays:

from 17.00 to 24.00 and from 00.00 to 08.00 – by 25%;

– on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) and holidays <*>:

from 00.00 to 08.00 – by 100%; from 08.00 to 17.00 – 50%;

from 17.00 to 24.00 – by 100%.


<*> Officially installed in the Russian Federation.

Surcharges apply only to that part of the cost of fees and services that corresponds to the actual duration of work outside of normal hours (overtime).

1.12. The invoices issued to the shipowners (vessels) contain a detailed calculation of the cost of payments for works and services, indicating the rates, applied allowances (discounts) and the actual time spent (working and overtime).

1.13. When making calculations, the time is rounded up to 0.5 hours: the time is less than 30 minutes. equates to 0.5 hours, time more than 30 min. accepted for 1 hour. The length, width and height of the ship’s side are rounded up to 0.5 m, gross tonnage – up to one bar. reg. v.

1.14. Tariff rates for fees and services do not include value added tax and other taxes provided by law.

1.15. To differentiate tariff rates for fees and services, depending on the purpose of the ship and its actual use, a conditional classification of ships into groups is introduced (Table 1. 1).

1.16. Vessels of the fishing fleet, registered in the sea fishing ports of Russia and sailing under the State flag of the Russian Federation, enjoy a preferential discount on all dues and fees – 20% of the established maximum limit of tariff rates.

Table 1.1



│ Primary purpose of the vessel │ Group │

────────────────────────────────────────────┼────── ───┤

│Fishing vessels of foreign navigation │ A │

│The same, limited navigation │ B │

│Transport vessels of foreign navigation │ B │

│The same, coastal navigation │ Г │

│Service, training, training and production, │ │

│research, research and search vessels │ │

│0│9 foreign navigation 0002 │Same │ E │

│Fishing boats and boats, other coastal vessels │ │

│voyage │ F │

│Service vessels for dredging │ W │

│Sports vessels, tourist and cruise yachts │ │

│foreign navigation │ And │


│Transit vessels │ L │

│All ships making emergency port calls (for │ │

│storm shelter, resupply and medical │ │

│necessities) │ M │

│Warships and vessels │ N │


1. Fishing vessels used exclusively for the carriage of goods are considered transport vessels.

2. Transport ships include: cargo ships, passenger ships, tankers and water carriers, non-self-propelled cargo ships (barges, pontoons and lighters).

3. Training and production and scientific research vessels engaged in fishing are considered fishing vessels (groups A and B), and those used for commercial transportation of goods – transport vessels (groups C and D). Fishing vessels unloading fishery products are not considered cargo vessels.

4. Transit vessels include vessels passing through the port water area without mooring to berths, other vessels, barrels and piles, as well as without anchoring.

5. Warships and vessels include: warships and auxiliary vessels flying naval flags. Auxiliary ships of the Navy, carrying out commercial cargo transportation and operations, are classified as transport ships (groups C and D).

Address and bank details – Federal State Budgetary Institution Administration of Sea Ports of the Western Arctic



    Federal state budgetary institution


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Federal state budgetary institution

Western Arctic Seaports Authority

Postal address: 183034, Murmansk, Portovy proezd, 1

Legal address: 183034, Murmansk, Portovy proezd, 1

Tel. (8152) 68-91-11

Fax: (8152) 68-91-10

E-mail: [email protected]

Working hours

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Working hours:
08.00 – 17.00
12.00 – 13.00
Saturday Sunday


p / account number
032 14 643 0 0000 0014900
to / account number
401 02 810 7 4537 0000041
MURMANSK BRANCH//UFK in the Murmansk region, Murmansk
UFK in the Murmansk region (FGBU “AMP Western Arctic”, l / s 20496SCH89120)
5190800121 / 51


00000000000000000 130
Purpose of payment:
(00000000000000000130) Payment (or advance payment) of ship dues on account **** dated **.