6 Ports Where People Stay on the Ship

Cruises are a unique travel experience in that you can travel to multiple countries in one trip and you only have to unpack once. But sometimes there are ports that leave a little to be desired. Here are six ports where many cruise passengers choose to stay onboard instead heading ashore.

1. Freeport

photo: flickr/Tim Bounds
photo: flickr/Tim Bounds

Aside from the beach day getaways and snorkeling excursions that are common to every port in the Caribbean, there’s not much to do in Freeport. If you’re a frequent cruiser, you may prefer to just stay on the ship and enjoy the peace and quiet.

2. Nassau

nassau bahamas
Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau, like Freeport, is geographically so close to Florida that it is one of the most popular ports for ships. But for veteran cruisers, this can lead to a “been there, done that” attitude. Although there are some beautiful beaches to escape to, Atlantis and the local shopping are overpriced, which results in many cruisers just opting out of leaving the ship at all. 

3. Belize City


Unfortunately, Belize City does not have a dock, so cruise ships have to use tenders here. Tenders mean crowds, waiting in lines, and less time to enjoy the destination. It’s especially more painful if you’re traveling with kids, who may become impatient. And although Belize City is known for cave tubing and world-class scuba diving, there’s not much to see otherwise and shopping opportunities are not as plentiful as in other ports.  

4. Progreso

photo: flickr/Zhu
photo: flickr/Zhu

Progreso is the less interesting cousin to Cozumel. Unless you’re interested in touring the nearby Mayan ruins, Progreso doesn’t offer a lot in the way of excursions or activities. Of course you can always find a beach to just relax on for the day, but you could also skip the hassle and stay on the ship with the staff there to cater to you.

5. Jamaica

photo: flickr/Chris Ford
Dunn’s River Falls (photo: flickr/Chris Ford)

Jamaica boasts some beautiful beaches, but the constant soliciting can be a nuisance. If you’ve ever been, you probably didn’t visit without being asked a dozen times if you’d like your hair braided, if you’d like to buy a bracelet, or — unfortunately — if you want to buy drugs. The constant barrage of salespeople can feel threatening, so if you’d rather soak up the sun in peace you might just hang out on the lido deck instead that day. 

6. Puerto Vallarta

Photo: Flickr/Chris&Steve
Photo: Flickr/Chris&Steve

Safety is the main concern here. In 2015, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning for Mexico due to widespread violence, and in May Royal Caribbean and Disney both canceled calls to this port while Carnival limited some excursions there. If you do decide to get off the ship, be sure to stay in the tourist areas and avoid travel into rural areas.

READ MORE: The Pros and Cons of Future Cruise Credits

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6 Responses

  1. I had my best two excursions in Belize and Freeport. The trick is to research before you get to the port.

    We rented a van,bought supplies, and drove to the park on the other side of the island. Caves and a beach that was featured in one of the Pirates of the Carribbean movies! It was magical.

    In Belize we went into the rainforest and tubed through caves. Amazing and fun!

    Best excursions ever and I have been 10 cruises and visited multiple ports.

  2. Ive had some of my best excursions on many of these islands, especially Belize, Xunantunich Mayan Ruins, and Jamaica, Dunns River Falls. I would say those are two of the most amazingly beautiful sights Ive ever seen in my life. However, they were two of the ports I felt most uncomfortable, from the drugs, to the peddlers, the military(?) men with guns walking all around us, the guys on top of the bridge at Dunns Rivers falls throwing cheap necklaces off the bridge to get tourists to pick it up and bring it to them so they can rob them. Thankfully we were ok through all of that, but not everyone is. I just dont know why the cruise companies and island cops/security/etc dont control this better. If these are excursions made through the cruise ship, security should exist IMO. There is no security what so ever and honestly, Ive never seen an excursion bus driver or guide carry a weapon. The islands are VERY unsafe and its sad cause they are soooooooo beautiful and so much fun. We are paying so much money, we should feel safe.

  3. I love Progresso. We do the city tour on the double decker bus. Then walk to the corona beach and have the best time.

  4. I know guests get it wrong all the time, but I would have thought Cruise Radio would be able to spell: Progreso!

  5. We have been to all of them and I agree with staying on board in these ports except maybe Belize which I enjoy the long tender ride.

  6. We really enjoyed the Mayan ruins shore excursion. The ten ride was nice. I found some nice things to buy there.

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