You'll Feel Second-Hand Cringe From This Can't-Miss Moment That Happens On Every Cruise

Cruise lines are known to go all out with entertainment and onboard activities, from live musical performances to deck pool parties. But sometimes, the best entertainment isn't listed on the cruise itinerary — and, in fact, it might come only when cruisers fail to follow the schedule.

That's the case for the pastime TikToker @mommashive dubbed a "cruise must do" in a viral clip. The content creator, who regularly posts videos about her traveling family, explained that the activity is both hilarious and shocking, especially for first-time sailers, and according to her experience, it happens on every trip. To begin, head to your balcony or the ship's top deck on port days, around the time when the terminal is set to close (at the end of the "all aboard" time, shortly before the "sail" time). Then, sit back and watch the people at the terminal. "Our's closes at 4:30 today, so we are up and ready at 4 o'clock because I know about 4:15, people are gonna start sprinting and running to the ship," the TikToker revealed.

Pier runners are a common sight on cruises

The people darting back to their ship are commonly referred to as "pier runners," and as @mommashive shared, they can be amusing — and cringe-inducing — to watch. Like the creator says, ships are known to have strict schedules, and passengers are informed of the time they must be back on board if they don't want to be left behind. However, lengthy port excursions, time zone confusion, and being too intoxicated can all be reasons why some cruisers must sprint to make it on time.

Some commenters on the clip were familiar with pier runners from their own sea travels. "Our ship busted out the spotlight and would follow them running down the pier," wrote one user. Others admitted that they themselves had sprinted to catch a cruise before the dock closed. "I was a pier runner in Cozumel after a cooking class that fed us endless margaritas," a commenter explained. Another added, "hah I was almost one of them. I pinned the wrong location on maps, gave myself 45min to walk back and found out I was in the wrong area."

What to do if you get left behind

Not all pier runners make it back on time — no matter how fast they sprint. A TikTok video posted by @phfame00 showed the moment she discovered her ship had sailed away without her. Another posted by @welcometofavelas4k shows a couple desperately waving and shouting at a ship after being stranded.

It's hard not to feel bad for the passengers barred from boarding, but with a little planning, most cruisers — including you — can avoid a similar fate. First, private excursions are a known reason for getting left behind on a cruise. Always book excursions through the cruise to ensure you don't get stuck, even if there's a delay. It's also a good idea to check your watch and set an alarm for the boarding time, not the sailing time. And, of course, be mindful of how many alcoholic drinks you consume when exploring the port towns.

If you still miss your ship, don't panic. Promptly contact the cruise line and let them know what happened. They won't turn back for you, but they'll typically offer resources on what to do next. Then, locate a port agent who may be able to help you book a flight to the next port or back home. Note that you'll likely have to bear any additional travel costs yourself. Moreover, if you decide to return home, expect to pay the cruise line to ship your items to you.