In order to catch flights to their ship's port, cruise passengers often have to wake up at the crack of dawn. After arriving, many cruisers find themselves exhausted, and the first day of the cruise is often overshadowed with trying to catch up on rest. Disembarking starts the whole process all over again, and can be the most trying end to any cruise. It starts with an early morning wake-up call. Passengers cannot go ashore until all baggage has been offloaded and customs and/or immigration inspections or pre-inspections have been carried out. In most ports, this takes two to three hours after arrival followed by a mad dash to the airport to catch their flights home.
One would hardly describe this as stress-free nor glamorous, even in retrospect. Thankfully there’s a better way to enjoy your cruise vacation—it's called a Pre-and Post-Cruise Extension.
Imagine being able to decompress before or after your cruise. Pre- and post-cruise extensions allow the stress to melt away, which can only enhance your overall cruise vacation experience.
Benefits of Pre-Cruise and Post-Cruise Extension
1. Eliminates Travel Delay Concerns
This has to be the most important reason to consider a pre-cruise hotel for one night at the very least. If you’re flying to reach your embarkation destination, you don’t want to miss your ship. Although you may be able to fly in on the day of your embarkation, any delays can quickly make this a precarious situation. Planning to get in the night before you cruise can especially help alleviate anxiety during times with adverse weather conditions, when getting to your port early can make the difference between boarding or missing your ship.
If you don’t make it to the ship on time, it’s your responsibility to join it at the next port. In addition to the added hassle and expense, that’s a lost day at sea you won’t be able to enjoy. To avoid such a predicament, do yourself a favor and opt for a room in port for the night. Arriving a day early allows you to relax, have a nice dinner and get a good night's sleep. Then you can leisurely get up the next morning and make your way to the ship.
I recommend the same scenario after your cruise so you can casually disembark and relax at a hotel instead of hassling to get to the airport to catch a flight. Why not give yourself a day or two to explore one final city? Then after a nice dinner and a good night’s rest you can catch a late morning or mid-day flight home and not feel the heavy exhaustion that comes from a full day of traveling.
2. Eases the Time-Zone Adjustment
Another travel concern is jet-lag. I believe you should always take the opportunity to arrive for your cruise the prior day or evening before embarkation, especially if you're taking an overnight or long distance flight. When traveling far, it generally takes a couple of days to recover. There’s nothing worse than getting onboard and wasting your first day or two adjusting to the time zone in a groggy state. Arriving a couple of days ahead of time lets you adjust to the new time zone so you’ll be able to enjoy the first few days of your cruise relaxed and refreshed.
3. Adds One or Two Ports to Your Itinerary
Extended port stays showcase some of the most exciting, culture-rich and unique cities on earth, affording you with the leisure to spend time before or after your cruise.
A day in port—with often a different port each day—defines the majority of cruise itineraries. But many of the world's most amazing places are a bit too far from port to explore in a matter of hours. In those destinations, extended port stays—or even the option of leaving the cruise ship in one port and re-embarking in another—add an unforgettable new dimension to any cruise.
Cruise-and-stay holidays are great for anyone who wants to spend more than just one day in a particular destination and those who want time to experience local nightlife. In these cases, arriving early or departing late effectively adds a round trip destination as one more port to visit or two if the sailing is one-way between different regions.
4. Makes for an Extended Vacation
Quite simply, adding one or more hotel nights to a cruise extends your vacation. This adds value, especially if you're traveling afar. Making the most of the long flights it takes to get to some locations is a better way to leverage the cost of expensive airfare. Besides, it doesn't cost any more to fly round trip for a week vacation than it does for a two week one.
5. Lets You Watch Your Ship Arrive and Depart
Another bonus benefit of getting a hotel before and after a cruise is the opportunity to watch your own ship sail from a distance. Before embarking upon your cruise, watching your ship sail into port adds to the anticipation and excitement about your upcoming voyage. Similarly, if you'd like to reminisce about the great time you had onboard, you can watch as your ship sails off into the horizon while dreaming of soon joining it once again in the not-so-distant future.
Pre- and/or Post-Cruise Stay Packages
Pre- and Post Cruise Extensions are a relatively inexpensive option that can prevent a lot of stress and aggravation, allowing you to start and end your cruise relaxed and refreshed. They also allow you to spend time in port cities you would otherwise miss.
Most cruise lines offer convenient one, two or three-night pre- or post-cruise packages that include the hotel and both airport and pier transfers, and often a city tour. The added value is knowing the land part is covered within your package should anything go wrong.
You can also consider alternative packages at other hotels than those offered by the cruise lines. Going through a tour operator can be a good compromise. Many tour operators put together packages that include extras like insurance and land transfers.
Whether you opt for a pre- and/or post-cruise package provided by the cruise line or by a reputable tour operator, you will experience a seamless transition between sea and land in the world-class cities in which you embark or disembark. You will be able to broaden your opportunities for adventure and add a more in-depth immersive experience to an already fabulous cruise.
Experiential and Wellness Travel are where it's at. Experiential Wellness Travel is a hybrid of both. But Transformative Travel is the next evolution in travel. Like many land-based resorts, the global cruise industry has kept apace of this current trend with vacations that are fun, authentic, and meaningful by offering travelers on board and on shore fitness and wellness activities, healthy meal options, local cooking classes, culturally immersive shore excursions, participation in the local communities they visit, and a variety of tailor-made experiences that are transformative in a deep and personal way.