4 Things That Will Get You Left Behind On Your Cruise

Few things make cruise-goers more anxious than the thought of getting left behind. Whether it's your fault or not, it won't matter much as you watch your ship sail into the distance without you. Maybe you just lost track of time, imbibed too much of the local moonshine, or something more serious happened that held you up.

Regardless of the reason, in almost every case except for a dire situation, this problem is avoidable. Ultimately, it is every individual passenger's responsibility to return on time. If you do end up holding back an entire ship because of your tardiness, you may just want to stay at the port anyway since everyone will be pretty annoyed with you for stalling their vacation. Okay, we're only (sort of) joking about that one — definitely get back on the ship if you can.

But what are the most common reasons passengers get abandoned by their cruise ship, and how can you avoid them? We've got all the details below, along with what you should do if you get left behind.

Losing track of time

When you're on vacation, the last thing you want to be doing is checking your watch and worrying about the time. However, when you're away from your cruise ship, this is just the reality that you must contend with if you're a responsible cruiser and you don't want to hold up the ship or be left behind.

However, there are scenarios that can happen that give you that same gut-wrenching feeling you get when you dream about coming to work in your underwear or forgetting your passport at home. (Is that last one just us?) Yes, you could be dutifully checking your watch, thinking you're on time, only to find the ship pulling away. This is why you need to make sure your watch and cell phones are set to what's called "ship time." This is the time that cruise ships run on in order to keep everyone on the same schedule and make time zone changes easier.

Additionally, you may want to make sure you have some transportation secured and know how long it will take to return to the ship before you set out. Another helpful hint? Set reminder alarms on your phone that will alert you when it's time to head back. This way, you can lounge on the beach without feeling like you have to check your phone every ten minutes.

Private excursions returning late

Sometimes, your tardiness really is out of your hands. Maybe you booked a fabulous private excursion for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to hang out with monkeys, go to a cooking class, or ride horses along a beach. Sounds amazing, right? However, if you're not careful, you might be riding that horse up the gangplank just as it's being brought in — Indiana Jones style! As exciting as that sounds, it's best to avoid both bringing four-legged passengers onto your ship, as well as being late to your all-aboard time.

When booking your private cruise shore excursion, read the timing carefully and consider messaging or calling the company to enquire if the tours always start and end on time and if you should account for a potential late return. This will help you determine if you'll have enough time to do the excursion and get back to the ship.

Alternatively, you can completely avoid this problem by booking excursions through your cruise. If you purchase these packages and your excursion runs a little late, you won't have to worry. Since it's a ship-sponsored activity, they will wait for your group to return as they really don't want to leave behind a large group of passengers.

Consuming too much alcohol

Some people might be reading this and thinking there's no way they would ever miss their cruise ship all aboard time. However, think about the last time you ever drank, well, a bit too much of the good stuff. You'll probably agree with us when we say that when alcohol is involved, anything can happen.

Simply put, there is just no reason to go on such a bender while exploring away from your ship. You're not only putting yourself at risk of being late by losing track of time, but also your health and safety. There will be plenty of time to drink away the day in between ports. That's what the beverage package is for, after all. However, if you want to purchase alcohol as a souvenir, go for it. Just make sure your cruise allows it. Some cruise lines will hold your alcohol for you until you return to port at the end of your cruise.

Committing a crime or indecent behavior

This one is a little different from the previous "oopsies" mentioned. Committing a crime, acting belligerently, or even just making other passengers very uncomfortable may land you in some serious trouble. In some cases, if the crime is severe enough, passengers may find themselves in the ship's brig. However, there are other cases in which ship security may escort passengers off the ship entirely for violating code of conduct policies and leave them at the next port to figure out their own way home.

Instances of this have occurred in the past, and cruise lines do crack down on unruly guests. Per the Royal Caribbean blog, for example, fighting, entering restricted areas, damaging property, and violating safety rules — such as leaning or climbing over railings – will get you a one-way ticket off the ship.

There are also the obvious crimes of smuggling illegal drugs, buying drinks for minors, and making egregious threats to the health and safety of the passengers and crew that will get you kicked off as well. In short, don't do anything you wouldn't do at home, and you should keep yourself out of trouble.

What to do if you know you'll be late

It's happening. You're going to be late to return to your ship. First, don't panic. Second, call the number provided by your ship and let security know where you are and how long you anticipate it will take you to get back to the ship. If you haven't even realized you're late, someone from the ship may try to call you if they have your number. If they can't reach you, they may try to search for you near the port. Try to avoid this since, at this point, everyone on the ship will know that you are missing as they will have announced your name on the PA system.

However, sometimes the worst happens, and you are left behind. Again, do not panic, and be sure to collect your belongings if they were left for you at the port and locate your port agent. Port agents are individuals employed by your cruise line who are stationed at each port. They can help you figure out your next steps. In some cases, you might be able to arrange travel to the next port of call and accommodations for that night through the cruise line. If you were smart and purchased travel insurance, you may also be able to do this through your travel insurance provider.