You've booked a cruise to the Caribbean and Roatan is one of your ports. Yay! Cruise ships are a great way to see multiple countries and cultures in a short period of time with the convenience of not having to pack up and change accommodation constantly. A lot of people use cruise ships to scope out future travel sites, so that they get a feeling for a place before booking a longer trip there.
Roatan is an awesome port of call, with a variety of activities to keep you busy. Scuba diving is Roatan's claim to fame, but we have zip lining, island tours, Blue Harbor Arboretum, the Iguana Farm - the list goes on.
So what should you keep in mind when you're planning a visit to Roatan by cruise ship? Here are our 5 important things to remember to give you the best experience possible!
Tip 1. Local time vs ship time
Many ships will stick to ship time on their itinerary, which is the time zone that the ship originally departs from. So if your ship departs from Ft. Lauderdale on Eastern time, they'll give you all your itinerary times in Eastern time, not in the local time zone. The itinerary will state that you're docking from 8AM to 4PM, which will actually be 7AM to 3PM in some ports and 6AM to 2PM in others. This will affect your activity schedule at port, so keep this in mind when you're contacting companies. Most places with cruise ship activity will have a designated agent that will announce the true docking times, so when the excursion company you are planning your day through tells you the local docking times, trust them to know what they're talking about.
As an important note as well: Honduras does not do Daylight Savings. I don't believe anywhere in Central America does. So remember, after March 13th, if we were on Central time before, we are on Mountain time now. Confusing? Yes, for all of us!
Tip 2. Times change. All the time.
Your ship could be docking at a certain time up to 12 hours before arrival, and then it may change at the last minute. We've even had ships dock hours late without any notification. Please don't get mad at your excursion company if they can't fit in all the activities you wanted because your docking time changed to not allow it. Most companies will accommodate as best they can, but it's not their fault that the ship changed its docking times. Please be flexible and be kind.
Tip 3. Cruise excursions vs private activities
When you dock somewhere, you get the choice between a cruise ship excursions and planning and booking activities yourself. It's up to you how you'd like to do it. Some people like going cruise endorsed because everything is taken cared of, from transportation to the activity itself, while some people like branching out and finding their own companies to work with because the groups tend to be smaller and priced lower if you're not cruise endorsed. Also, if a company is endorsed by the cruise ship, then if customers are running late, the cruise ship is more likely to wait for them than if they are late from a non-cruise excursion.
Whatever you choose, you'll have a great time! It's just about finding an option that fits you best.
Tip 4. Flexibility is key
The perils of going on a ship and only getting a day at a time in each place is that you will not always have all the time you want. And sometimes, just sometimes, the weather will make it impossible for the ship to dock, or the cruise ship will make the decision to bypass a port altogether. This is for safety reasons, so don't get mad at the cruise ship for doing this. And don't get mad at the excursions for not being able to accommodate.
If your ship doesn't dock, most activities will not offer a refund on the deposit because while it's not your fault that your ship didn't dock, it's not their fault that it didn't, either.
Tip 5. Please read your e-mails
Whether you are booking through the cruise ship or privately, please, please, PLEASE read all communication thoroughly. Companies that consistently work with cruise ship have learned to place certain words into their correspondence, like "local time", and will be very explicit in their instructions to meet transportation or payment methods. It's frustrating for you if you can't find your taxi because you didn't read the directions, and it's really frustrating for the company because they're trying to find you and you're not where you're supposed to be.
It only takes a few minutes to read an e-mail, and that will determine how smoothly your day goes, so it's worth it to take two minutes to read to avoid 20 minutes of frantically trying to find your transport. Better yet, take the e-mail and print it so that you have a physical copy to access.
So there are our Top Five Tips for traveling on a cruise ship! We hope you have a great week and love every port that you visit.
As always, thank you for visiting us and we hope to see you again soon!