How the World’s Biggest Cruise Ship Is Docked, Explained by a Captain

.css-1d0dlne-HeadlineTextBlock >*{display:inline-block;} .css-1plpptc-HeadlineTextBlock{margin:0;color:rgba(255,255,255,1);font-family:Escrow Condensed,Georgia,serif;font-size:36px;line-height:40px;font-weight:700;letter-spacing:0px;font-style:normal;text-transform:none;font-stretch:normal;padding:0.5px 0px;}.css-1plpptc-HeadlineTextBlock svg{fill:rgba(255,255,255,1);}.css-1plpptc-HeadlineTextBlock::before{content:'';margin-bottom:-0.2266em;display:block;}.css-1plpptc-HeadlineTextBlock::after{content:'';margin-top:-0.1956em;display:block;}.css-1plpptc-HeadlineTextBlock >*{display:inline-block;} How the World’s Biggest Cruise Ship Is Docked, Explained by a Captain

A Royal Caribbean captain explains how he docks a 1,188-foot cruise ship at Port Canaveral, Fla., and how environmental conditions pose the biggest challenge. Photo illustration: Ryan Trefes

Wall Street Journal

August 4, 2023

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Your trip may be booked, but there are hundreds of people and processes that help you travel to where you need to go. WSJ’s Booked goes behind-the-scenes with the experts to peel back the curtain on the travel industry.

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How Much Does It Cost to Dock a Cruise Ship?

Most of us have parked a car somewhere and scoffed at the price, but have you ever thought about how much it costs to “park” a cruise ship?  When you book a cruise, you’re paying not just for the ship’s staff, your meals, whatever they use to keep the brass railings so shiny, etc – but also taxes and fees, many of which cover the cost of the space and services used while in the port at which you’re starting and ending your cruise.  Let’s look at who is being paid, what that money goes towards, and of course, how much it all costs.

Who Is Being Paid

In the United States, most ports are operated by county governments, but there are some exceptions where special arrangements are made so that ports directly serving multiple areas can share the operational responsibility.  Where Miami-Dade County runs PortMiami , many of the ports in New Jersey and New York are controlled by the New Jersey & New York Port Authority.  While governments operate ports to generate revenue, much of the port fees cover operational costs.  Last year, Port Everglades in Ft Lauderdale took in more revenue than any port in the state, but that was less than $163 million.  The bigger financial incentive to running these ports is the benefit to communities in the form of jobs, tourism, and other revenue streams which the port helps to facilitate. 

docking cruise ship

Where the Money Goes 

What kinds of operational costs?  Ports provide security services, facilities for parking, space for customs and immigration, international trade zones (where cargo can switch ships in port to go outside the US without incurring tariffs), scheduling of resources, and other logistics services.  Further, ports have significant engineering tasks in maintaining the port’s facilities and waterways while being careful to minimize environmental impact.  In accordance with the goal of environmental stewardship, Port Everglades built an Environmental Education Facility at Dr Von D Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park (formerly John U Lloyd, and a great place to watch ships! ).  In fact, the responsibilities of a port often extend to waterways leading to the port itself.

Interestingly, a few of the things you may first think of are not actually run by the port.  Tug boats for example are usually run by private businesses, and have agreements with the port which allow them to operate while being paid by shipping companies and cruise lines.  Even the harbor pilots are not usually government employees, but employed by pilots’ associations for a certain region, port, or set of ports. 

docking cruise ship

Rates vary quite a bit from port to port, and are not always calculated the same.  While time is always a factor (and for cruise ships, most ports charge in 24 hour blocks), some charge by gross tonnage of a vessel, others by LOA (overall length).  Below we’ve broken down the single-day cost of just the dockage fees (not including extra security, longshoremen, pilots , tugs, etc) for three cruise ships in three ports.

You'll notice that while PortMiami seems generally more expensive than Port Everglades, this is not the case for the Oceania Regatta.  This is because PortMiami  has a terminal (Terminal J) for use by smaller ships (like the Regatta) which has a much lower rate per ton than the other terminals needed by larger ships.  Interestingly, because Port Canaveral charges by LOA rather than tonnage, Harmony of the Seas pays around 50% more than the Celebrity Solstice even though she is twice the tonnage (and around 30% wider).

Regardless of how they're calculated, it's easy to understand why these costs vary by ship size: a larger ship likely means more passengers, more space for loading, additional security, higher terminal electricity costs, etc.

Terminal 18 In Port Everglades, built to accommodate the largest cruise ships in the world.

Wrapping It Up

Here we discussed just some of the things associated with the fees you pay when cruising, and barely scratched the surface of everything that ports do.  In addition to those services and the rates we discussed, cruise lines routinely work with ports and other government entities, committing to a certain number of annual passengers and other metrics in exchange for new terminal buildings, better rates with contractors, and more.  Truthfully, as relaxing and fun as cruising is, a part of the attraction we've always had is the incredible amount of work that so many people do in order to make the whole experience seem easy.  As such, next time you're setting off on a cruise, thank the port staff, they're working hard for you, just like your stateroom attendant and captain.

To learn about other expenses you might not think about when budgeting for your cruise, read our article on what is  not  included in your cruise fare .

Have tips or questions about changing currency or using credit cards abroad?    Let us know in the comments below, or reach out on  Facebook  or  Twitter !

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The Terminals and Docks in St Thomas, Charlotte Amalie (USVI) Cruise Port Guide (2023)

Practical guide to docking or anchoring on a cruise to St Thomas, Charlotte Amalie (USVI): the two main cruise terminals, tourist info, taxi fares, shops and more.

By: Editor-in-Chief Update: June 1, 2023

Many cruise travelers to St Thomas do not realize that there are two harbors in St Thomas both relatively close to Charlotte Amalie and that there is also a pier where tender-boats moor next to the main city of the Island.

Harbors, Docks and Piers

With 3 docking spots in the Havensight Cruise Ship Dock and another 2 docking spots in the Crown Bay Cruise Ship Dock , it happens quite frequently that cruise ships calling at St Thomas will have to anchor in the bay and tender passengers to a pier right by the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie (the main city and capital of St Thomas).

Photo of cruise ship Anchoring in St Thomas

Anchoring in St Thomas

Photo © IQCruising.com

As much as the Editor would like to provide a list of what ships dock and where, and the ships that have to tender, the reality is that cruise lines cannot guarantee a specific docking spot, with the exception of Mega-Ships like the Royal Caribbean Oasis class, which dock at Crown Bay. Read our review of the Crown Bay Dock to learn about all its services and amenities.

All other ships will only be assigned a docking harbor on the morning of arrival. There is a tendency to believe that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise lines dock exclusively at Crown Bay but the Editor has been on ships of these cruise lines docked in Havensight. Read our review of the Havensight Dock to learn about all its services and amenities.

Tender to Charlotte Amalie

Although some cruise ship travelers find tendering a bit of an inconvenience, a tender boat can be a pleasant and easy way to get to town if you are planning to explore Charlotte Amalie. After all, you will not need to spend time and money to get to the city.

Photo of tendering pier in St Thomas

Tendering - Charlotte Amalie

The tender pier is located right on the Waterfront - officially named Veterans Drive - and right across the street is the heart of Charlotte Amalie. If the cruise ship passenger is booked on a ship excursion there will be staff guiding you to tour buses parked close by.

Photo of Waterfront in St Thomas

Waterfront in Charlotte Amalie

Tourist Information

If you need information or maps walk no more than 100 yards (more or less 100 meters) to the east side of the waterfront (to your right) where there is a tourist information kiosk by the entrance of the A.H. Riise Mall.

Photo of Tourist Kiosk in St Thomas

Tourist Information Kiosk in Charlotte Amalie

Taxi Fares from Charlotte Amalie

To get a taxi to any of the major attractions of St Thomas or to spend the day on a beach, just across the street (Waterfront) and you will have taxis announcing departures to all major sites and offering all sorts of 'day-sightseeing-tours'.

Photo of Taxi in St Thomas

Taxi in St Thomas

Taxi fares are clearly established and you shouldn't worry about being ripped off. Taxis are shared and the cruise ship passenger may have to wait a while to get these 'big' tropical taxis full with travel companions but that is part of the laid-back charm of the Caribbean.

Taxi Fares from Charlotte Amalie *

* Prices from Crown Bay and Havensight are very similar. Fares are person sharing a Taxi. Taxi fares may have been updated since last reviewed.

Shopping in Charlotte Amalie

Considering that Charlotte Amalie is a top 'shopping-paradise' in the Caribbean, many a cruise ship passenger want to see what this is all about. The overwhelming majority of the shops are on the Main Street (parallel to the Waterfront) and the Alleys in between these two thoroughfares.

Photo of Hibiscus Alley in Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas USVI

Hibiscus Alley in Charlotte Amalie

The cruise traveler may find it easier to explore the shopping area by starting at either the West or the East ends. If you need to check the Tourist Information Kiosk head to the right and enter the shopping area on the A.H. Riise Mall. Otherwise, walk West (left) and enter the Palm Passage to cross to the Main Street.

► Explore: Best Shops and Shopping in Charlotte Amalie A.H.Riise Mall, Hibiscus Alley, Breitling, Cartier, H.Stern, Tiffany & Co., Coach, Louis Vuitton and more ... Learn More ►

Amenities, Services and Basics

Because the tendering Pier is on the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie, most services and amenities are within walking distance in the city itself.

Photo of ATM in St Thomas

Bank with ATM in Charlotte Amalie

Banks with ATMs are just across the street - have in mind that US Dollar is the legal tender in the US Virgin Islands and that you will need cash for Taxis. There are public restrooms very close by the entrance of the A.H. Riise Mall, behind the Tourist Information kiosk.

Charlotte Amalie Services and Amenities

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The information on this page was accurate when last updated and published but changes may have occurred without notice. It is advisable to confirm details with local tourist information before planning your cruise, tour or excursion of St Thomas. If any inaccuracies are found or if there are any suggestions to improve the content of this page please let us know.

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photo of Icon of the Seas, taken on a long railed path approaching the stern of the ship, with people walking along dock

Crying Myself to Sleep on the Biggest Cruise Ship Ever

Seven agonizing nights aboard the Icon of the Seas

photo of Icon of the Seas, taken on a long railed path approaching the stern of the ship, with people walking along dock

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Updated at 2:44 p.m. ET on April 6, 2024.

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MY FIRST GLIMPSE of Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, from the window of an approaching Miami cab, brings on a feeling of vertigo, nausea, amazement, and distress. I shut my eyes in defense, as my brain tells my optic nerve to try again.

The ship makes no sense, vertically or horizontally. It makes no sense on sea, or on land, or in outer space. It looks like a hodgepodge of domes and minarets, tubes and canopies, like Istanbul had it been designed by idiots. Vibrant, oversignifying colors are stacked upon other such colors, decks perched over still more decks; the only comfort is a row of lifeboats ringing its perimeter. There is no imposed order, no cogent thought, and, for those who do not harbor a totalitarian sense of gigantomania, no visual mercy. This is the biggest cruise ship ever built, and I have been tasked with witnessing its inaugural voyage.

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“Author embarks on their first cruise-ship voyage” has been a staple of American essay writing for almost three decades, beginning with David Foster Wallace’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” which was first published in 1996 under the title “Shipping Out.” Since then, many admirable writers have widened and diversified the genre. Usually the essayist commissioned to take to the sea is in their first or second flush of youth and is ready to sharpen their wit against the hull of the offending vessel. I am 51, old and tired, having seen much of the world as a former travel journalist, and mostly what I do in both life and prose is shrug while muttering to my imaginary dachshund, “This too shall pass.” But the Icon of the Seas will not countenance a shrug. The Icon of the Seas is the Linda Loman of cruise ships, exclaiming that attention must be paid. And here I am in late January with my one piece of luggage and useless gray winter jacket and passport, zipping through the Port of Miami en route to the gangway that will separate me from the bulk of North America for more than seven days, ready to pay it in full.

The aforementioned gangway opens up directly onto a thriving mall (I will soon learn it is imperiously called the “Royal Promenade”), presently filled with yapping passengers beneath a ceiling studded with balloons ready to drop. Crew members from every part of the global South, as well as a few Balkans, are shepherding us along while pressing flutes of champagne into our hands. By a humming Starbucks, I drink as many of these as I can and prepare to find my cabin. I show my blue Suite Sky SeaPass Card (more on this later, much more) to a smiling woman from the Philippines, and she tells me to go “aft.” Which is where, now? As someone who has rarely sailed on a vessel grander than the Staten Island Ferry, I am confused. It turns out that the aft is the stern of the ship, or, for those of us who don’t know what a stern or an aft are, its ass. The nose of the ship, responsible for separating the waves before it, is also called a bow, and is marked for passengers as the FWD , or forward. The part of the contemporary sailing vessel where the malls are clustered is called the midship. I trust that you have enjoyed this nautical lesson.

I ascend via elevator to my suite on Deck 11. This is where I encounter my first terrible surprise. My suite windows and balcony do not face the ocean. Instead, they look out onto another shopping mall. This mall is the one that’s called Central Park, perhaps in homage to the Olmsted-designed bit of greenery in the middle of my hometown. Although on land I would be delighted to own a suite with Central Park views, here I am deeply depressed. To sail on a ship and not wake up to a vast blue carpet of ocean? Unthinkable.

Allow me a brief preamble here. The story you are reading was commissioned at a moment when most staterooms on the Icon were sold out. In fact, so enthralled by the prospect of this voyage were hard-core mariners that the ship’s entire inventory of guest rooms (the Icon can accommodate up to 7,600 passengers, but its inaugural journey was reduced to 5,000 or so for a less crowded experience) was almost immediately sold out. Hence, this publication was faced with the shocking prospect of paying nearly $19,000 to procure for this solitary passenger an entire suite—not including drinking expenses—all for the privilege of bringing you this article. But the suite in question doesn’t even have a view of the ocean! I sit down hard on my soft bed. Nineteen thousand dollars for this .

selfie photo of man with glasses, in background is swim-up bar with two women facing away

The viewless suite does have its pluses. In addition to all the Malin+Goetz products in my dual bathrooms, I am granted use of a dedicated Suite Deck lounge; access to Coastal Kitchen, a superior restaurant for Suites passengers; complimentary VOOM SM Surf & Stream (“the fastest Internet at Sea”) “for one device per person for the whole cruise duration”; a pair of bathrobes (one of which comes prestained with what looks like a large expectoration by the greenest lizard on Earth); and use of the Grove Suite Sun, an area on Decks 18 and 19 with food and deck chairs reserved exclusively for Suite passengers. I also get reserved seating for a performance of The Wizard of Oz , an ice-skating tribute to the periodic table, and similar provocations. The very color of my Suite Sky SeaPass Card, an oceanic blue as opposed to the cloying royal purple of the standard non-Suite passenger, will soon provoke envy and admiration. But as high as my status may be, there are those on board who have much higher status still, and I will soon learn to bow before them.

In preparation for sailing, I have “priced in,” as they say on Wall Street, the possibility that I may come from a somewhat different monde than many of the other cruisers. Without falling into stereotypes or preconceptions, I prepare myself for a friendly outspokenness on the part of my fellow seafarers that may not comply with modern DEI standards. I believe in meeting people halfway, and so the day before flying down to Miami, I visited what remains of Little Italy to purchase a popular T-shirt that reads DADDY’S LITTLE MEATBALL across the breast in the colors of the Italian flag. My wife recommended that I bring one of my many T-shirts featuring Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, as all Americans love the beagle and his friends. But I naively thought that my meatball T-shirt would be more suitable for conversation-starting. “Oh, and who is your ‘daddy’?” some might ask upon seeing it. “And how long have you been his ‘little meatball’?” And so on.

I put on my meatball T-shirt and head for one of the dining rooms to get a late lunch. In the elevator, I stick out my chest for all to read the funny legend upon it, but soon I realize that despite its burnished tricolor letters, no one takes note. More to the point, no one takes note of me. Despite my attempts at bridge building, the very sight of me (small, ethnic, without a cap bearing the name of a football team) elicits no reaction from other passengers. Most often, they will small-talk over me as if I don’t exist. This brings to mind the travails of David Foster Wallace , who felt so ostracized by his fellow passengers that he retreated to his cabin for much of his voyage. And Wallace was raised primarily in the Midwest and was a much larger, more American-looking meatball than I am. If he couldn’t talk to these people, how will I? What if I leave this ship without making any friends at all, despite my T-shirt? I am a social creature, and the prospect of seven days alone and apart is saddening. Wallace’s stateroom, at least, had a view of the ocean, a kind of cheap eternity.

Worse awaits me in the dining room. This is a large, multichandeliered room where I attended my safety training (I was shown how to put on a flotation vest; it is a very simple procedure). But the maître d’ politely refuses me entry in an English that seems to verge on another language. “I’m sorry, this is only for pendejos ,” he seems to be saying. I push back politely and he repeats himself. Pendejos ? Piranhas? There’s some kind of P-word to which I am not attuned. Meanwhile elderly passengers stream right past, powered by their limbs, walkers, and electric wheelchairs. “It is only pendejo dining today, sir.” “But I have a suite!” I say, already starting to catch on to the ship’s class system. He examines my card again. “But you are not a pendejo ,” he confirms. I am wearing a DADDY’S LITTLE MEATBALL T-shirt, I want to say to him. I am the essence of pendejo .

Eventually, I give up and head to the plebeian buffet on Deck 15, which has an aquatic-styled name I have now forgotten. Before gaining entry to this endless cornucopia of reheated food, one passes a washing station of many sinks and soap dispensers, and perhaps the most intriguing character on the entire ship. He is Mr. Washy Washy—or, according to his name tag, Nielbert of the Philippines—and he is dressed as a taco (on other occasions, I’ll see him dressed as a burger). Mr. Washy Washy performs an eponymous song in spirited, indeed flamboyant English: “Washy, washy, wash your hands, WASHY WASHY!” The dangers of norovirus and COVID on a cruise ship this size (a giant fellow ship was stricken with the former right after my voyage) makes Mr. Washy Washy an essential member of the crew. The problem lies with the food at the end of Washy’s rainbow. The buffet is groaning with what sounds like sophisticated dishes—marinated octopus, boiled egg with anchovy, chorizo, lobster claws—but every animal tastes tragically the same, as if there was only one creature available at the market, a “cruisipus” bred specifically for Royal Caribbean dining. The “vegetables” are no better. I pick up a tomato slice and look right through it. It tastes like cellophane. I sit alone, apart from the couples and parents with gaggles of children, as “We Are Family” echoes across the buffet space.

I may have failed to mention that all this time, the Icon of the Seas has not left port. As the fiery mango of the subtropical setting sun makes Miami’s condo skyline even more apocalyptic, the ship shoves off beneath a perfunctory display of fireworks. After the sun sets, in the far, dark distance, another circus-lit cruise ship ruptures the waves before us. We glance at it with pity, because it is by definition a smaller ship than our own. I am on Deck 15, outside the buffet and overlooking a bunch of pools (the Icon has seven of them), drinking a frilly drink that I got from one of the bars (the Icon has 15 of them), still too shy to speak to anyone, despite Sister Sledge’s assertion that all on the ship are somehow related.

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The ship’s passage away from Ron DeSantis’s Florida provides no frisson, no sense of developing “sea legs,” as the ship is too large to register the presence of waves unless a mighty wind adds significant chop. It is time for me to register the presence of the 5,000 passengers around me, even if they refuse to register mine. My fellow travelers have prepared for this trip with personally decorated T-shirts celebrating the importance of this voyage. The simplest ones say ICON INAUGURAL ’24 on the back and the family name on the front. Others attest to an over-the-top love of cruise ships: WARNING! MAY START TALKING ABOUT CRUISING . Still others are artisanally designed and celebrate lifetimes spent married while cruising (on ships, of course). A couple possibly in their 90s are wearing shirts whose backs feature a drawing of a cruise liner, two flamingos with ostensibly male and female characteristics, and the legend “ HUSBAND AND WIFE Cruising Partners FOR LIFE WE MAY NOT HAVE IT All Together BUT TOGETHER WE HAVE IT ALL .” (The words not in all caps have been written in cursive.) A real journalist or a more intrepid conversationalist would have gone up to the couple and asked them to explain the longevity of their marriage vis-à-vis their love of cruising. But instead I head to my mall suite, take off my meatball T-shirt, and allow the first tears of the cruise to roll down my cheeks slowly enough that I briefly fall asleep amid the moisture and salt.

photo of elaborate twisting multicolored waterslides with long stairwell to platform

I WAKE UP with a hangover. Oh God. Right. I cannot believe all of that happened last night. A name floats into my cobwebbed, nauseated brain: “Ayn Rand.” Jesus Christ.

I breakfast alone at the Coastal Kitchen. The coffee tastes fine and the eggs came out of a bird. The ship rolls slightly this morning; I can feel it in my thighs and my schlong, the parts of me that are most receptive to danger.

I had a dangerous conversation last night. After the sun set and we were at least 50 miles from shore (most modern cruise ships sail at about 23 miles an hour), I lay in bed softly hiccupping, my arms stretched out exactly like Jesus on the cross, the sound of the distant waves missing from my mall-facing suite, replaced by the hum of air-conditioning and children shouting in Spanish through the vents of my two bathrooms. I decided this passivity was unacceptable. As an immigrant, I feel duty-bound to complete the tasks I am paid for, which means reaching out and trying to understand my fellow cruisers. So I put on a normal James Perse T-shirt and headed for one of the bars on the Royal Promenade—the Schooner Bar, it was called, if memory serves correctly.

I sat at the bar for a martini and two Negronis. An old man with thick, hairy forearms drank next to me, very silent and Hemingwaylike, while a dreadlocked piano player tinkled out a series of excellent Elton John covers. To my right, a young white couple—he in floral shorts, she in a light, summery miniskirt with a fearsome diamond ring, neither of them in football regalia—chatted with an elderly couple. Do it , I commanded myself. Open your mouth. Speak! Speak without being spoken to. Initiate. A sentence fragment caught my ear from the young woman, “Cherry Hill.” This is a suburb of Philadelphia in New Jersey, and I had once been there for a reading at a synagogue. “Excuse me,” I said gently to her. “Did you just mention Cherry Hill? It’s a lovely place.”

As it turned out, the couple now lived in Fort Lauderdale (the number of Floridians on the cruise surprised me, given that Southern Florida is itself a kind of cruise ship, albeit one slowly sinking), but soon they were talking with me exclusively—the man potbellied, with a chin like a hard-boiled egg; the woman as svelte as if she were one of the many Ukrainian members of the crew—the elderly couple next to them forgotten. This felt as groundbreaking as the first time I dared to address an American in his native tongue, as a child on a bus in Queens (“On my foot you are standing, Mister”).

“I don’t want to talk politics,” the man said. “But they’re going to eighty-six Biden and put Michelle in.”

I considered the contradictions of his opening conversational gambit, but decided to play along. “People like Michelle,” I said, testing the waters. The husband sneered, but the wife charitably put forward that the former first lady was “more personable” than Joe Biden. “They’re gonna eighty-six Biden,” the husband repeated. “He can’t put a sentence together.”

After I mentioned that I was a writer—though I presented myself as a writer of teleplays instead of novels and articles such as this one—the husband told me his favorite writer was Ayn Rand. “Ayn Rand, she came here with nothing,” the husband said. “I work with a lot of Cubans, so …” I wondered if I should mention what I usually do to ingratiate myself with Republicans or libertarians: the fact that my finances improved after pass-through corporations were taxed differently under Donald Trump. Instead, I ordered another drink and the couple did the same, and I told him that Rand and I were born in the same city, St. Petersburg/Leningrad, and that my family also came here with nothing. Now the bonding and drinking began in earnest, and several more rounds appeared. Until it all fell apart.

Read: Gary Shteyngart on watching Russian television for five days straight

My new friend, whom I will refer to as Ayn, called out to a buddy of his across the bar, and suddenly a young couple, both covered in tattoos, appeared next to us. “He fucking punked me,” Ayn’s frat-boy-like friend called out as he put his arm around Ayn, while his sizable partner sizzled up to Mrs. Rand. Both of them had a look I have never seen on land—their eyes projecting absence and enmity in equal measure. In the ’90s, I drank with Russian soldiers fresh from Chechnya and wandered the streets of wartime Zagreb, but I have never seen such undisguised hostility toward both me and perhaps the universe at large. I was briefly introduced to this psychopathic pair, but neither of them wanted to have anything to do with me, and the tattooed woman would not even reveal her Christian name to me (she pretended to have the same first name as Mrs. Rand). To impress his tattooed friends, Ayn made fun of the fact that as a television writer, I’d worked on the series Succession (which, it would turn out, practically nobody on the ship had watched), instead of the far more palatable, in his eyes, zombie drama of last year. And then my new friends drifted away from me into an angry private conversation—“He punked me!”—as I ordered another drink for myself, scared of the dead-eyed arrivals whose gaze never registered in the dim wattage of the Schooner Bar, whose terrifying voices and hollow laughs grated like unoiled gears against the crooning of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

But today is a new day for me and my hangover. After breakfast, I explore the ship’s so-called neighborhoods . There’s the AquaDome, where one can find a food hall and an acrobatic sound-and-light aquatic show. Central Park has a premium steak house, a sushi joint, and a used Rolex that can be bought for $8,000 on land here proudly offered at $17,000. There’s the aforementioned Royal Promenade, where I had drunk with the Rands, and where a pair of dueling pianos duel well into the night. There’s Surfside, a kids’ neighborhood full of sugary garbage, which looks out onto the frothy trail that the behemoth leaves behind itself. Thrill Island refers to the collection of tubes that clutter the ass of the ship and offer passengers six waterslides and a surfing simulation. There’s the Hideaway, an adult zone that plays music from a vomit-slathered, Brit-filled Alicante nightclub circa 1996 and proves a big favorite with groups of young Latin American customers. And, most hurtfully, there’s the Suite Neighborhood.

2 photos: a ship's foamy white wake stretches to the horizon; a man at reailing with water and two large ships docked behind

I say hurtfully because as a Suite passenger I should be here, though my particular suite is far from the others. Whereas I am stuck amid the riffraff of Deck 11, this section is on the highborn Decks 16 and 17, and in passing, I peek into the spacious, tall-ceilinged staterooms from the hallway, dazzled by the glint of the waves and sun. For $75,000, one multifloor suite even comes with its own slide between floors, so that a family may enjoy this particular terror in private. There is a quiet splendor to the Suite Neighborhood. I see fewer stickers and signs and drawings than in my own neighborhood—for example, MIKE AND DIANA PROUDLY SERVED U.S. MARINE CORPS RETIRED . No one here needs to announce their branch of service or rank; they are simply Suites, and this is where they belong. Once again, despite my hard work and perseverance, I have been disallowed from the true American elite. Once again, I am “Not our class, dear.” I am reminded of watching The Love Boat on my grandmother’s Zenith, which either was given to her or we found in the trash (I get our many malfunctioning Zeniths confused) and whose tube got so hot, I would put little chunks of government cheese on a thin tissue atop it to give our welfare treat a pleasant, Reagan-era gooeyness. I could not understand English well enough then to catch the nuances of that seafaring program, but I knew that there were differences in the status of the passengers, and that sometimes those differences made them sad. Still, this ship, this plenty—every few steps, there are complimentary nachos or milkshakes or gyros on offer—was the fatty fuel of my childhood dreams. If only I had remained a child.

I walk around the outdoor decks looking for company. There is a middle-aged African American couple who always seem to be asleep in each other’s arms, probably exhausted from the late capitalism they regularly encounter on land. There is far more diversity on this ship than I expected. Many couples are a testament to Loving v. Virginia , and there is a large group of folks whose T-shirts read MELANIN AT SEA / IT’S THE MELANIN FOR ME . I smile when I see them, but then some young kids from the group makes Mr. Washy Washy do a cruel, caricatured “Burger Dance” (today he is in his burger getup), and I think, Well, so much for intersectionality .

At the infinity pool on Deck 17, I spot some elderly women who could be ethnic and from my part of the world, and so I jump in. I am proved correct! Many of them seem to be originally from Queens (“Corona was still great when it was all Italian”), though they are now spread across the tristate area. We bond over the way “Ron-kon-koma” sounds when announced in Penn Station.

“Everyone is here for a different reason,” one of them tells me. She and her ex-husband last sailed together four years ago to prove to themselves that their marriage was truly over. Her 15-year-old son lost his virginity to “an Irish young lady” while their ship was moored in Ravenna, Italy. The gaggle of old-timers competes to tell me their favorite cruising stories and tips. “A guy proposed in Central Park a couple of years ago”—many Royal Caribbean ships apparently have this ridiculous communal area—“and she ran away screaming!” “If you’re diamond-class, you get four drinks for free.” “A different kind of passenger sails out of Bayonne.” (This, perhaps, is racially coded.) “Sometimes, if you tip the bartender $5, your next drink will be free.”

“Everyone’s here for a different reason,” the woman whose marriage ended on a cruise tells me again. “Some people are here for bad reasons—the drinkers and the gamblers. Some people are here for medical reasons.” I have seen more than a few oxygen tanks and at least one woman clearly undergoing very serious chemo. Some T-shirts celebrate good news about a cancer diagnosis. This might be someone’s last cruise or week on Earth. For these women, who have spent months, if not years, at sea, cruising is a ritual as well as a life cycle: first love, last love, marriage, divorce, death.

Read: The last place on Earth any tourist should go

I have talked with these women for so long, tonight I promise myself that after a sad solitary dinner I will not try to seek out company at the bars in the mall or the adult-themed Hideaway. I have enough material to fulfill my duties to this publication. As I approach my orphaned suite, I run into the aggro young people who stole Mr. and Mrs. Rand away from me the night before. The tattooed apparitions pass me without a glance. She is singing something violent about “Stuttering Stanley” (a character in a popular horror movie, as I discover with my complimentary VOOM SM Surf & Stream Internet at Sea) and he’s loudly shouting about “all the money I’ve lost,” presumably at the casino in the bowels of the ship.

So these bent psychos out of a Cormac McCarthy novel are angrily inhabiting my deck. As I mewl myself to sleep, I envision a limited series for HBO or some other streamer, a kind of low-rent White Lotus , where several aggressive couples conspire to throw a shy intellectual interloper overboard. I type the scenario into my phone. As I fall asleep, I think of what the woman who recently divorced her husband and whose son became a man through the good offices of the Irish Republic told me while I was hoisting myself out of the infinity pool. “I’m here because I’m an explorer. I’m here because I’m trying something new.” What if I allowed myself to believe in her fantasy?

2 photos: 2 slices of pizza on plate; man in "Daddy's Little Meatball" shirt and shorts standing in outdoor dining area with ship's exhaust stacks in background

“YOU REALLY STARTED AT THE TOP,” they tell me. I’m at the Coastal Kitchen for my eggs and corned-beef hash, and the maître d’ has slotted me in between two couples. Fueled by coffee or perhaps intrigued by my relative youth, they strike up a conversation with me. As always, people are shocked that this is my first cruise. They contrast the Icon favorably with all the preceding liners in the Royal Caribbean fleet, usually commenting on the efficiency of the elevators that hurl us from deck to deck (as in many large corporate buildings, the elevators ask you to choose a floor and then direct you to one of many lifts). The couple to my right, from Palo Alto—he refers to his “porn mustache” and calls his wife “my cougar” because she is two years older—tell me they are “Pandemic Pinnacles.”

This is the day that my eyes will be opened. Pinnacles , it is explained to me over translucent cantaloupe, have sailed with Royal Caribbean for 700 ungodly nights. Pandemic Pinnacles took advantage of the two-for-one accrual rate of Pinnacle points during the pandemic, when sailing on a cruise ship was even more ill-advised, to catapult themselves into Pinnacle status.

Because of the importance of the inaugural voyage of the world’s largest cruise liner, more than 200 Pinnacles are on this ship, a startling number, it seems. Mrs. Palo Alto takes out a golden badge that I have seen affixed over many a breast, which reads CROWN AND ANCHOR SOCIETY along with her name. This is the coveted badge of the Pinnacle. “You should hear all the whining in Guest Services,” her husband tells me. Apparently, the Pinnacles who are not also Suites like us are all trying to use their status to get into Coastal Kitchen, our elite restaurant. Even a Pinnacle needs to be a Suite to access this level of corned-beef hash.

“We’re just baby Pinnacles,” Mrs. Palo Alto tells me, describing a kind of internal class struggle among the Pinnacle elite for ever higher status.

And now I understand what the maître d’ was saying to me on the first day of my cruise. He wasn’t saying “ pendejo .” He was saying “Pinnacle.” The dining room was for Pinnacles only, all those older people rolling in like the tide on their motorized scooters.

And now I understand something else: This whole thing is a cult. And like most cults, it can’t help but mirror the endless American fight for status. Like Keith Raniere’s NXIVM, where different-colored sashes were given out to connote rank among Raniere’s branded acolytes, this is an endless competition among Pinnacles, Suites, Diamond-Plusers, and facing-the-mall, no-balcony purple SeaPass Card peasants, not to mention the many distinctions within each category. The more you cruise, the higher your status. No wonder a section of the Royal Promenade is devoted to getting passengers to book their next cruise during the one they should be enjoying now. No wonder desperate Royal Caribbean offers (“FINAL HOURS”) crowded my email account weeks before I set sail. No wonder the ship’s jewelry store, the Royal Bling, is selling a $100,000 golden chalice that will entitle its owner to drink free on Royal Caribbean cruises for life. (One passenger was already gaming out whether her 28-year-old son was young enough to “just about earn out” on the chalice or if that ship had sailed.) No wonder this ship was sold out months before departure , and we had to pay $19,000 for a horrid suite away from the Suite Neighborhood. No wonder the most mythical hero of Royal Caribbean lore is someone named Super Mario, who has cruised so often, he now has his own working desk on many ships. This whole experience is part cult, part nautical pyramid scheme.

From the June 2014 issue: Ship of wonks

“The toilets are amazing,” the Palo Altos are telling me. “One flush and you’re done.” “They don’t understand how energy-efficient these ships are,” the husband of the other couple is telling me. “They got the LNG”—liquefied natural gas, which is supposed to make the Icon a boon to the environment (a concept widely disputed and sometimes ridiculed by environmentalists).

But I’m thinking along a different line of attack as I spear my last pallid slice of melon. For my streaming limited series, a Pinnacle would have to get killed by either an outright peasant or a Suite without an ocean view. I tell my breakfast companions my idea.

“Oh, for sure a Pinnacle would have to be killed,” Mr. Palo Alto, the Pandemic Pinnacle, says, touching his porn mustache thoughtfully as his wife nods.

“THAT’S RIGHT, IT’S your time, buddy!” Hubert, my fun-loving Panamanian cabin attendant, shouts as I step out of my suite in a robe. “Take it easy, buddy!”

I have come up with a new dressing strategy. Instead of trying to impress with my choice of T-shirts, I have decided to start wearing a robe, as one does at a resort property on land, with a proper spa and hammam. The response among my fellow cruisers has been ecstatic. “Look at you in the robe!” Mr. Rand cries out as we pass each other by the Thrill Island aqua park. “You’re living the cruise life! You know, you really drank me under the table that night.” I laugh as we part ways, but my soul cries out, Please spend more time with me, Mr. and Mrs. Rand; I so need the company .

In my white robe, I am a stately presence, a refugee from a better limited series, a one-man crossover episode. (Only Suites are granted these robes to begin with.) Today, I will try many of the activities these ships have on offer to provide their clientele with a sense of never-ceasing motion. Because I am already at Thrill Island, I decide to climb the staircase to what looks like a mast on an old-fashioned ship (terrified, because I am afraid of heights) to try a ride called “Storm Chasers,” which is part of the “Category 6” water park, named in honor of one of the storms that may someday do away with the Port of Miami entirely. Storm Chasers consists of falling from the “mast” down a long, twisting neon tube filled with water, like being the camera inside your own colonoscopy, as you hold on to the handles of a mat, hoping not to die. The tube then flops you down headfirst into a trough of water, a Royal Caribbean baptism. It both knocks my breath out and makes me sad.

In keeping with the aquatic theme, I attend a show at the AquaDome. To the sound of “Live and Let Die,” a man in a harness gyrates to and fro in the sultry air. I saw something very similar in the back rooms of the famed Berghain club in early-aughts Berlin. Soon another harnessed man is gyrating next to the first. Ja , I think to myself, I know how this ends. Now will come the fisting , natürlich . But the show soon devolves into the usual Marvel-film-grade nonsense, with too much light and sound signifying nichts . If any fisting is happening, it is probably in the Suite Neighborhood, inside a cabin marked with an upside-down pineapple, which I understand means a couple are ready to swing, and I will see none of it.

I go to the ice show, which is a kind of homage—if that’s possible—to the periodic table, done with the style and pomp and masterful precision that would please the likes of Kim Jong Un, if only he could afford Royal Caribbean talent. At one point, the dancers skate to the theme song of Succession . “See that!” I want to say to my fellow Suites—at “cultural” events, we have a special section reserved for us away from the commoners—“ Succession ! It’s even better than the zombie show! Open your minds!”

Finally, I visit a comedy revue in an enormous and too brightly lit version of an “intimate,” per Royal Caribbean literature, “Manhattan comedy club.” Many of the jokes are about the cruising life. “I’ve lived on ships for 20 years,” one of the middle-aged comedians says. “I can only see so many Filipino homosexuals dressed as a taco.” He pauses while the audience laughs. “I am so fired tonight,” he says. He segues into a Trump impression and then Biden falling asleep at the microphone, which gets the most laughs. “Anyone here from Fort Leonard Wood?” another comedian asks. Half the crowd seems to cheer. As I fall asleep that night, I realize another connection I have failed to make, and one that may explain some of the diversity on this vessel—many of its passengers have served in the military.

As a coddled passenger with a suite, I feel like I am starting to understand what it means to have a rank and be constantly reminded of it. There are many espresso makers , I think as I look across the expanse of my officer-grade quarters before closing my eyes, but this one is mine .

photo of sheltered sandy beach with palms, umbrellas, and chairs with two large docked cruise ships in background

A shocking sight greets me beyond the pools of Deck 17 as I saunter over to the Coastal Kitchen for my morning intake of slightly sour Americanos. A tiny city beneath a series of perfectly pressed green mountains. Land! We have docked for a brief respite in Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts and Nevis. I wolf down my egg scramble to be one of the first passengers off the ship. Once past the gangway, I barely refrain from kissing the ground. I rush into the sights and sounds of this scruffy island city, sampling incredible conch curry and buckets of non-Starbucks coffee. How wonderful it is to be where God intended humans to be: on land. After all, I am neither a fish nor a mall rat. This is my natural environment. Basseterre may not be Havana, but there are signs of human ingenuity and desire everywhere you look. The Black Table Grill Has been Relocated to Soho Village, Market Street, Directly Behind of, Gary’s Fruits and Flower Shop. Signed. THE PORK MAN reads a sign stuck to a wall. Now, that is how you write a sign. A real sign, not the come-ons for overpriced Rolexes that blink across the screens of the Royal Promenade.

“Hey, tie your shoestring!” a pair of laughing ladies shout to me across the street.

“Thank you!” I shout back. Shoestring! “Thank you very much.”

A man in Independence Square Park comes by and asks if I want to play with his monkey. I haven’t heard that pickup line since the Penn Station of the 1980s. But then he pulls a real monkey out of a bag. The monkey is wearing a diaper and looks insane. Wonderful , I think, just wonderful! There is so much life here. I email my editor asking if I can remain on St. Kitts and allow the Icon to sail off into the horizon without me. I have even priced a flight home at less than $300, and I have enough material from the first four days on the cruise to write the entire story. “It would be funny …” my editor replies. “Now get on the boat.”

As I slink back to the ship after my brief jailbreak, the locals stand under umbrellas to gaze at and photograph the boat that towers over their small capital city. The limousines of the prime minister and his lackeys are parked beside the gangway. St. Kitts, I’ve been told, is one of the few islands that would allow a ship of this size to dock.

“We hear about all the waterslides,” a sweet young server in one of the cafés told me. “We wish we could go on the ship, but we have to work.”

“I want to stay on your island,” I replied. “I love it here.”

But she didn’t understand how I could possibly mean that.

“WASHY, WASHY, so you don’t get stinky, stinky!” kids are singing outside the AquaDome, while their adult minders look on in disapproval, perhaps worried that Mr. Washy Washy is grooming them into a life of gayness. I heard a southern couple skip the buffet entirely out of fear of Mr. Washy Washy.

Meanwhile, I have found a new watering hole for myself, the Swim & Tonic, the biggest swim-up bar on any cruise ship in the world. Drinking next to full-size, nearly naked Americans takes away one’s own self-consciousness. The men have curvaceous mom bodies. The women are equally un-shy about their sprawling physiques.

Today I’ve befriended a bald man with many children who tells me that all of the little trinkets that Royal Caribbean has left us in our staterooms and suites are worth a fortune on eBay. “Eighty dollars for the water bottle, 60 for the lanyard,” the man says. “This is a cult.”

“Tell me about it,” I say. There is, however, a clientele for whom this cruise makes perfect sense. For a large middle-class family (he works in “supply chains”), seven days in a lower-tier cabin—which starts at $1,800 a person—allow the parents to drop off their children in Surfside, where I imagine many young Filipina crew members will take care of them, while the parents are free to get drunk at a swim-up bar and maybe even get intimate in their cabin. Cruise ships have become, for a certain kind of hardworking family, a form of subsidized child care.

There is another man I would like to befriend at the Swim & Tonic, a tall, bald fellow who is perpetually inebriated and who wears a necklace studded with little rubber duckies in sunglasses, which, I am told, is a sort of secret handshake for cruise aficionados. Tomorrow, I will spend more time with him, but first the ship docks at St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Charlotte Amalie, the capital, is more charming in name than in presence, but I still all but jump off the ship to score a juicy oxtail and plantains at the well-known Petite Pump Room, overlooking the harbor. From one of the highest points in the small city, the Icon of the Seas appears bigger than the surrounding hills.

I usually tan very evenly, but something about the discombobulation of life at sea makes me forget the regular application of sunscreen. As I walk down the streets of Charlotte Amalie in my fluorescent Icon of the Seas cap, an old Rastafarian stares me down. “Redneck,” he hisses.

“No,” I want to tell him, as I bring a hand up to my red neck, “that’s not who I am at all. On my island, Mannahatta, as Whitman would have it, I am an interesting person living within an engaging artistic milieu. I do not wish to use the Caribbean as a dumping ground for the cruise-ship industry. I love the work of Derek Walcott. You don’t understand. I am not a redneck. And if I am, they did this to me.” They meaning Royal Caribbean? Its passengers? The Rands?

“They did this to me!”

Back on the Icon, some older matrons are muttering about a run-in with passengers from the Celebrity cruise ship docked next to us, the Celebrity Apex. Although Celebrity Cruises is also owned by Royal Caribbean, I am made to understand that there is a deep fratricidal beef between passengers of the two lines. “We met a woman from the Apex,” one matron says, “and she says it was a small ship and there was nothing to do. Her face was as tight as a 19-year-old’s, she had so much surgery.” With those words, and beneath a cloudy sky, humidity shrouding our weathered faces and red necks, we set sail once again, hopefully in the direction of home.

photo from inside of spacious geodesic-style glass dome facing ocean, with stairwells and seating areas

THERE ARE BARELY 48 HOURS LEFT to the cruise, and the Icon of the Seas’ passengers are salty. They know how to work the elevators. They know the Washy Washy song by heart. They understand that the chicken gyro at “Feta Mediterranean,” in the AquaDome Market, is the least problematic form of chicken on the ship.

The passengers have shed their INAUGURAL CRUISE T-shirts and are now starting to evince political opinions. There are caps pledging to make America great again and T-shirts that celebrate words sometimes attributed to Patrick Henry: “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” With their preponderance of FAMILY FLAG FAITH FRIENDS FIREARMS T-shirts, the tables by the crepe station sometimes resemble the Capitol Rotunda on January 6. The Real Anthony Fauci , by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., appears to be a popular form of literature, especially among young men with very complicated versions of the American flag on their T-shirts. Other opinions blend the personal and the political. “Someone needs to kill Washy guy, right?” a well-dressed man in the elevator tells me, his gray eyes radiating nothing. “Just beat him to death. Am I right?” I overhear the male member of a young couple whisper, “There goes that freak” as I saunter by in my white spa robe, and I decide to retire it for the rest of the cruise.

I visit the Royal Bling to see up close the $100,000 golden chalice that entitles you to free drinks on Royal Caribbean forever. The pleasant Serbian saleslady explains that the chalice is actually gold-plated and covered in white zirconia instead of diamonds, as it would otherwise cost $1 million. “If you already have everything,” she explains, “this is one more thing you can get.”

I believe that anyone who works for Royal Caribbean should be entitled to immediate American citizenship. They already speak English better than most of the passengers and, per the Serbian lady’s sales pitch above, better understand what America is as well. Crew members like my Panamanian cabin attendant seem to work 24 hours a day. A waiter from New Delhi tells me that his contract is six months and three weeks long. After a cruise ends, he says, “in a few hours, we start again for the next cruise.” At the end of the half a year at sea, he is allowed a two-to-three-month stay at home with his family. As of 2019, the median income for crew members was somewhere in the vicinity of $20,000, according to a major business publication. Royal Caribbean would not share the current median salary for its crew members, but I am certain that it amounts to a fraction of the cost of a Royal Bling gold-plated, zirconia-studded chalice.

And because most of the Icon’s hyper-sanitized spaces are just a frittata away from being a Delta lounge, one forgets that there are actual sailors on this ship, charged with the herculean task of docking it in port. “Having driven 100,000-ton aircraft carriers throughout my career,” retired Admiral James G. Stavridis, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, writes to me, “I’m not sure I would even know where to begin with trying to control a sea monster like this one nearly three times the size.” (I first met Stavridis while touring Army bases in Germany more than a decade ago.)

Today, I decide to head to the hot tub near Swim & Tonic, where some of the ship’s drunkest reprobates seem to gather (the other tubs are filled with families and couples). The talk here, like everywhere else on the ship, concerns football, a sport about which I know nothing. It is apparent that four teams have recently competed in some kind of finals for the year, and that two of them will now face off in the championship. Often when people on the Icon speak, I will try to repeat the last thing they said with a laugh or a nod of disbelief. “Yes, 20-yard line! Ha!” “Oh my God, of course, scrimmage.”

Soon we are joined in the hot tub by the late-middle-age drunk guy with the duck necklace. He is wearing a bucket hat with the legend HAWKEYES , which, I soon gather, is yet another football team. “All right, who turned me in?” Duck Necklace says as he plops into the tub beside us. “I get a call in the morning,” he says. “It’s security. Can you come down to the dining room by 10 a.m.? You need to stay away from the members of this religious family.” Apparently, the gregarious Duck Necklace had photobombed the wrong people. There are several families who present as evangelical Christians or practicing Muslims on the ship. One man, evidently, was not happy that Duck Necklace had made contact with his relatives. “It’s because of religious stuff; he was offended. I put my arm around 20 people a day.”

Everyone laughs. “They asked me three times if I needed medication,” he says of the security people who apparently interrogated him in full view of others having breakfast.

Another hot-tub denizen suggests that he should have asked for fentanyl. After a few more drinks, Duck Necklace begins to muse about what it would be like to fall off the ship. “I’m 62 and I’m ready to go,” he says. “I just don’t want a shark to eat me. I’m a huge God guy. I’m a Bible guy. There’s some Mayan theory squaring science stuff with religion. There is so much more to life on Earth.” We all nod into our Red Stripes.

“I never get off the ship when we dock,” he says. He tells us he lost $6,000 in the casino the other day. Later, I look him up, and it appears that on land, he’s a financial adviser in a crisp gray suit, probably a pillar of his North Chicago community.

photo of author smiling and holding soft-serve ice-cream cone with outdoor seating area in background

THE OCEAN IS TEEMING with fascinating life, but on the surface it has little to teach us. The waves come and go. The horizon remains ever far away.

I am constantly told by my fellow passengers that “everybody here has a story.” Yes, I want to reply, but everybody everywhere has a story. You, the reader of this essay, have a story, and yet you’re not inclined to jump on a cruise ship and, like Duck Necklace, tell your story to others at great pitch and volume. Maybe what they’re saying is that everybody on this ship wants to have a bigger, more coherent, more interesting story than the one they’ve been given. Maybe that’s why there’s so much signage on the doors around me attesting to marriages spent on the sea. Maybe that’s why the Royal Caribbean newsletter slipped under my door tells me that “this isn’t a vacation day spent—it’s bragging rights earned.” Maybe that’s why I’m so lonely.

Today is a big day for Icon passengers. Today the ship docks at Royal Caribbean’s own Bahamian island, the Perfect Day at CocoCay. (This appears to be the actual name of the island.) A comedian at the nightclub opined on what his perfect day at CocoCay would look like—receiving oral sex while learning that his ex-wife had been killed in a car crash (big laughter). But the reality of the island is far less humorous than that.

One of the ethnic tristate ladies in the infinity pool told me that she loved CocoCay because it had exactly the same things that could be found on the ship itself. This proves to be correct. It is like the Icon, but with sand. The same tired burgers, the same colorful tubes conveying children and water from Point A to B. The same swim-up bar at its Hideaway ($140 for admittance, no children allowed; Royal Caribbean must be printing money off its clientele). “There was almost a fight at The Wizard of Oz ,” I overhear an elderly woman tell her companion on a chaise lounge. Apparently one of the passengers began recording Royal Caribbean’s intellectual property and “three guys came after him.”

I walk down a pathway to the center of the island, where a sign reads DO NOT ENTER: YOU HAVE REACHED THE BOUNDARY OF ADVENTURE . I hear an animal scampering in the bushes. A Royal Caribbean worker in an enormous golf cart soon chases me down and takes me back to the Hideaway, where I run into Mrs. Rand in a bikini. She becomes livid telling me about an altercation she had the other day with a woman over a towel and a deck chair. We Suites have special towel privileges; we do not have to hand over our SeaPass Card to score a towel. But the Rands are not Suites. “People are so entitled here,” Mrs. Rand says. “It’s like the airport with all its classes.” “You see,” I want to say, “this is where your husband’s love of Ayn Rand runs into the cruelties and arbitrary indignities of unbridled capitalism.” Instead we make plans to meet for a final drink in the Schooner Bar tonight (the Rands will stand me up).

Back on the ship, I try to do laps, but the pool (the largest on any cruise ship, naturally) is fully trashed with the detritus of American life: candy wrappers, a slowly dissolving tortilla chip, napkins. I take an extra-long shower in my suite, then walk around the perimeter of the ship on a kind of exercise track, past all the alluring lifeboats in their yellow-and-white livery. Maybe there is a dystopian angle to the HBO series that I will surely end up pitching, one with shades of WALL-E or Snowpiercer . In a collapsed world, a Royal Caribbean–like cruise liner sails from port to port, collecting new shipmates and supplies in exchange for the precious energy it has on board. (The actual Icon features a new technology that converts passengers’ poop into enough energy to power the waterslides . In the series, this shitty technology would be greatly expanded.) A very young woman (18? 19?), smart and lonely, who has only known life on the ship, walks along the same track as I do now, contemplating jumping off into the surf left by its wake. I picture reusing Duck Necklace’s words in the opening shot of the pilot. The girl is walking around the track, her eyes on the horizon; maybe she’s highborn—a Suite—and we hear the voice-over: “I’m 19 and I’m ready to go. I just don’t want a shark to eat me.”

Before the cruise is finished, I talk to Mr. Washy Washy, or Nielbert of the Philippines. He is a sweet, gentle man, and I thank him for the earworm of a song he has given me and for keeping us safe from the dreaded norovirus. “This is very important to me, getting people to wash their hands,” he tells me in his burger getup. He has dreams, as an artist and a performer, but they are limited in scope. One day he wants to dress up as a piece of bacon for the morning shift.

THE MAIDEN VOYAGE OF THE TITANIC (the Icon of the Seas is five times as large as that doomed vessel) at least offered its passengers an exciting ending to their cruise, but when I wake up on the eighth day, all I see are the gray ghosts that populate Miami’s condo skyline. Throughout my voyage, my writer friends wrote in to commiserate with me. Sloane Crosley, who once covered a three-day spa mini-cruise for Vogue , tells me she felt “so very alone … I found it very untethering.” Gideon Lewis-Kraus writes in an Instagram comment: “When Gary is done I think it’s time this genre was taken out back and shot.” And he is right. To badly paraphrase Adorno: After this, no more cruise stories. It is unfair to put a thinking person on a cruise ship. Writers typically have difficult childhoods, and it is cruel to remind them of the inherent loneliness that drove them to writing in the first place. It is also unseemly to write about the kind of people who go on cruises. Our country does not provide the education and upbringing that allow its citizens an interior life. For the creative class to point fingers at the large, breasty gentlemen adrift in tortilla-chip-laden pools of water is to gather a sour harvest of low-hanging fruit.

A day or two before I got off the ship, I decided to make use of my balcony, which I had avoided because I thought the view would only depress me further. What I found shocked me. My suite did not look out on Central Park after all. This entire time, I had been living in the ship’s Disneyland, Surfside, the neighborhood full of screaming toddlers consuming milkshakes and candy. And as I leaned out over my balcony, I beheld a slight vista of the sea and surf that I thought I had been missing. It had been there all along. The sea was frothy and infinite and blue-green beneath the span of a seagull’s wing. And though it had been trod hard by the world’s largest cruise ship, it remained.

This article appears in the May 2024 print edition with the headline “A Meatball at Sea.” When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

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Docking a Cruise Ship – How Is It Done?

docking cruise ship

Book Your Next Amazing Cruise with Travel Leader, Jeffrey Cleary

Have you ever wondered about the techniques involved in docking a cruise ship? We will cover 6 of the most common docking techniques cruise ships use.

Docking a cruise ship is a relatively complex procedure that relies on careful planning, clear communication, and a skillful crew. While you may assume that cruise ships are always docked using the same techniques, these massive vessels can use various methods.

To help you understand how cruise ships are docked, we will cover some of the most common docking techniques. We will also explain why the different methods are employed, rather than all vessels using the same basic process. 

If you are ready to learn about cruise ship docking, it’s time to get started!

Why Are Different Docking Techniques Used?

How a cruise ship is docked will depend on a variety of factors. The following are just some that need to be taken into consideration by a ship’s navigational crew when deciding which docking method they will use:

Port Infrastructure and Layout

The port where the cruise ship intends to dock plays a significant role in determining which type of docking technique the vessel will need to use. Some have narrow waterways, which restrict how ships can navigate the port.

PortMiami Cruise Ships

Others may use fixed rather than floating docks, so tidal conditions at the time of docking can force the vessel to dock in a certain way.

Available Space Within a Port

In high-traffic ports, larger ships can be forced to dock at a specific angle, allowing the port authority to maximize their limited space. Even if a port is not particularly busy but is on the smaller side, they could request specific docking techniques to prevent larger ships from blocking in others.

The Physical Size of the Cruise Ship Itself

The length and width of a cruise ship can also play a significant role in determining which docking method is the safest and most efficient. With larger cruise ships, maneuverability can be a concern in tight spaces.

Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas

These larger ships may also have to dock in ports with the specialized infrastructure required to allow many passengers to disembark, like multiple berths and longer piers.

Urgency of Docking

In emergencies where a ship must be evacuated quickly, its captain and navigational officers can be forced to adopt a docking procedure they may otherwise avoid. These forced docking situations can dictate which type of technique is used, as simply waiting for a more suitable docking point to become available is not an option.

What Are the Most Common Techniques for Docking a Cruise Ship?

Now that you understand why cruise ships can use different docking techniques, it is time to take a look at some of the most common methods used for docking a cruise ship:

The Traditional Docking Method

As the name implies, traditional cruise ship docking is how most cruise ships were initially docked. It also is the most commonly used method today.

This docking technique involves aligning the ship parallel to a stationary dock. The ship’s navigational officers work with the port’s head pilot to maneuver the cruise ship alongside the dock.

Cruise Ship Officers on the Bridge

While most maneuvering is carried out using the cruise ship’s primary propulsion system and  secondary side thrusters , they can also request assistance from tugs operating within the port.

Once the cruise ship is in position, mooring lines are deployed and secured to hold the vessel in place. This prevents movement and allows for the secure docking required to allow guests and crew to disembark the ship.

Multiple Berth Docking

In larger ports with areas explicitly dedicated to allowing cruise ships to dock, multiple berth docking can be performed. With this technique, numerous cruise ships can dock alongside each other.

Each cruise ship can be positioned in its own berth, with mooring lines securing them. This is particularly common in popular destinations offering cruise ship passenger attractions. This technique requires careful planning, as it is vitally important that the cruise ships do not dock while another ship’s guests are disembarking or boarding .

Bow or Stern Mooring

When a port does not offer sufficient docking facilities for full-sized cruise ships, it is possible to anchor offshore, then transport cruise passengers to the shore using smaller ferries. Within the cruise ship industry, this process is called  tendering .

Cruise Tender

When this unique form of docking is used, the ship’s crew positions the cruise ship so that its bow or stern faces open water. This increases stability, even when the vessel is not in port. Mooring lines can be used to secure the ship to additional anchoring points and secured buoys.

Not only is this technique common when visiting areas that are incredibly busy and need more room for a cruise ship in their port, but it can also be used for more remote areas that lack adequate docking facilities. 

Mediterranean Mooring

Mediterranean Mooring, or Med Mooring for short, is a docking technique developed to overcome the logistical issues of docking in some of the Mediterranean Sea’s most popular and crowded ports.

Rather than using the traditional docking technique of aligning the ship parallel with the dock,  Mediterranean Mooring involves docking at an angle of about 30 to 45 degrees .

Bodrum Cruise Port

This allows the cruise ship to take up less space in the port, so more cruise ships can fit. Once the ship is in position, mooring lines are secured to the dock to hold the ship at this angle. 

Passengers can either depart at the front of the ship, which is the area closest to the dock, or lengthy platforms can be extended to the ship to allow passengers to walk across the water.

While this technique was developed to overcome the crowded ports of the Mediterranean Sea, it can be used elsewhere if required.

Perpendicular Pier Docking

In ports where cruise ships must dock perpendicular to the shoreline to maximize space, they can position their bow or stern towards the shore, then position themselves inwards.

Tug Boat Helping Cruise Ship

Once this occurs and the ship is in position, mooring lines hold the vessel in place, allowing passengers and crew to disembark or board safely. This docking technique usually involves pilot and tug boats assisting the cruise ship, as the docking process must be exact.

One of the significant advantages of this type of docking is that it means docks are located on both the starboard and port sides of the ship . One side of the vessel can allow passengers to come and go from the ship, while the other can be used to restock the ship with supplies and fuel.

Floating Dock Docking

In ports that have significant tidal fluctuations, floating docks can be used. Rather than a fixed dock, the port uses docks that move in elevation with the rising and lowering of the tide. These floating docks are attached to the shore with flexible connections that can move with the tides.

The ship’s navigation team will use the ship’s propulsion system and thrusters to align the ship with the appropriate floating docks. A local pilot familiar with the port and the characteristics of the tide will assist the vessel.

Mooring Lines

Once the ship has been attached to the floating dock with mooring lines, the local pilot can authorize the cruise ship to allow passengers to disembark.

Even though the cruise ship is connected to the floating docks, it is still essential that local tide conditions are taken into account to ensure that the passengers are safe at all times. This is usually for much smaller vessels rather than large cruise ships.

How Do Cruise Ships Prepare for Docking?

Preparing a large ship to dock safely and efficiently is a complicated process. Not only does the crew have to determine the safest docking technique to use for the situation at hand, but they must also carry out the following procedures correctly:

The ship’s captain and navigation officers must work with the local pilot and port authorities to plan when the vessel should approach. They review everything from depth charts, incoming weather conditions, the physical size and draft of the ship itself, and local regulations for that specific port.

Officers on the bridge communicate their plans with the relevant personnel to ensure the docking procedure goes smoothly.

Positioning and Speed Control

Once the planning phase has been completed, it becomes time to prepare the crew for executing their docking responsibilities. Communication systems are tested, then the planned maneuvers and speeds are properly communicated with the relevant crew members.

Thrusters

Depending on the chosen docking technique, the ship’s propulsion system and thrusters work together to position the ship. Tug assistance can be requested from local tug operators and pilots.

Emergency Preparedness Procedures

Safety is always the number one priority with any complicated process like docking. The ship’s crew is readied to react to any sort of emergency that could feasibly occur during the docking procedure. 

Passenger and Crew Preparations

Once everything has been planned and the crew is ready to dock the ship, announcements can inform passengers and crew members to return to designated assembly areas or their cabins, as these are the safest areas to remain during the docking procedure.

Cruise Ship Bridge

As mentioned, safety takes priority whenever any cruise ship is being docked. The entire procedure can be called off if docking cannot be performed safely.

The cruise ship’s crew and shore-based authorities, pilots, and other relevant personnel work together to prioritize the safety and comfort of those on board and those in other pre-docked cruise ships.

Final Words

Docking is incredibly important for cruise ships. It allows passengers and crew members to board and disembark the cruise ship safely. When this is carried out smoothly, it will enable passengers to begin and end their voyage and visit exciting shore destinations for day trips and shore excursions.

Read Also: How Do Cruise Ships Float?

It is a critical component of the entire cruise ship experience. Beyond allowing passengers to board, docking allows cruise ships to load new supplies. In some situations, maintenance and repairs can also be carried out while the cruise ship is docked.

For longer cruise voyages, even the crew can be changed over or given some much-needed time off the ship for their own well-being. Overall, docking is one of the most vital operations a cruise ship carries out, and it is an integral part of any cruise experience!

Docking a Cruise Ship

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Jeffrey Cleary is an experienced travel advisor and cruise specialist with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in Caribbean and World cruises. With over a decade of experience in the travel industry, Jeffrey has developed a reputation as a trusted advisor for those seeking unforgettable Caribbean and/or World cruise experiences. "I bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in the cruise industry, along with real-world experience on many of the finest ships at sea. I love cruising myself, so I am often sailing (and reachable by clients) and experiencing the cruise lines first hand. I'll get to know you, your style, your ideal vacation and recommend an Amazing Cruise experience."

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Where Do The Cruise Ships Dock In Aruba

Published: December 9, 2023

Modified: December 28, 2023

by Wynne Quigley

  • Travel Destinations
  • Travel Guide

where-do-the-cruise-ships-dock-in-aruba

Introduction

Aruba, known as “One Happy Island,” is a popular destination for cruise ship travelers seeking sun, sand, and a vibrant cultural experience. Located in the southern Caribbean, Aruba offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and modern amenities. When visiting Aruba on a cruise, one of the first things you may wonder is where the cruise ships dock and what you can expect upon arrival.

The island’s main port, Port of Oranjestad, serves as the primary hub for cruise ships visiting Aruba. It is conveniently located in the capital city of Oranjestad, allowing passengers to step directly into the heart of the action. From there, you can explore the island’s pristine beaches, go on exciting adventures, indulge in local cuisine, or simply enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the downtown area.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the different docking locations for cruise ships in Aruba. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned cruiser, understanding where the ships dock and what amenities are available can enhance your overall experience and help you plan your time on the island.

Port of Oranjestad

The Port of Oranjestad, located in the heart of Aruba’s capital city, is the main cruise port on the island. This bustling hub welcomes numerous cruise ships throughout the year, bringing in thousands of visitors ready to explore all that Aruba has to offer.

Upon docking at the Port of Oranjestad, passengers are greeted with a picturesque view of the island’s colorful buildings, palm-lined streets, and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The port area is a lively and vibrant place, with a range of facilities and amenities to cater to the needs of cruise ship travelers.

As you disembark from your cruise vessel, you’ll find yourself right at the heart of downtown Oranjestad, surrounded by a variety of shops, restaurants, and local attractions. The proximity of the port to the city makes it incredibly convenient for cruisers to explore the area on foot or hop on a short taxi ride to the nearby attractions and beaches.

The Port of Oranjestad boasts excellent facilities to enhance the passenger experience. There are modern docking facilities, ensuring a smooth and efficient process for cruise ships to arrive and depart. The port is equipped with all the necessary infrastructure, including immigration and customs services, to handle the large influx of visitors efficiently.

Moreover, the port area offers various amenities to enhance your time in Aruba. You’ll find duty-free shops where you can indulge in some retail therapy, picking up souvenirs, jewelry, fashion, or local handicrafts. There are also plenty of dining options, ranging from casual eateries to upscale restaurants, serving a wide array of cuisines.

If you’re in search of entertainment, the port area is also home to several casinos, where you can try your luck at the tables or slot machines. Additionally, there are cultural and historical attractions nearby, including Fort Zoutman and the Archaeological Museum of Aruba, giving you a glimpse into the island’s fascinating past.

In summary, the Port of Oranjestad serves as the main gateway for cruise ship travelers to explore Aruba. With its prime location, excellent facilities, and a wide range of amenities nearby, it offers a seamless and enjoyable experience for cruisers, ensuring that your time on the island starts off on the right foot.

Cruise Ship Piers

Within the Port of Oranjestad, there are several cruise ship piers that accommodate the large vessels that visit Aruba. These piers provide convenient and efficient access for passengers to embark and disembark from the cruise ships.

The main cruise ship pier at the Port of Oranjestad is located in the downtown area, near the Renaissance Marketplace and the Royal Plaza Mall. This pier can accommodate multiple large cruise ships simultaneously, allowing for a significant number of passengers to explore the island at any given time.

In addition to the main pier, there are also secondary piers available to cater to the growing demand of cruise ship tourism in Aruba. These secondary piers are often used when additional cruise ships dock on the island, ensuring that all visitors have a smooth and enjoyable experience upon arrival.

The specific pier assigned to a cruise ship may vary depending on factors such as the size of the vessel, port availability, and scheduling. Cruise itineraries and port assignments are typically finalized well in advance, ensuring that passengers receive detailed information regarding their docking location and any relevant instructions.

Regardless of which pier your cruise ship is assigned to, you can expect a well-maintained docking area with clear signage and helpful staff to guide you through the disembarkation process. The piers are designed to accommodate the needs of both passengers and crew members, facilitating a seamless transition from ship to shore.

Once you have disembarked from your cruise ship, transportation options are readily available near the piers. Taxis, tour buses, and rental car services are easily accessible, allowing you to explore Aruba at your own pace. Alternatively, if you prefer a guided experience, shore excursion operators often have representatives at the port, offering a variety of tours and activities to choose from.

Overall, the cruise ship piers at the Port of Oranjestad provide a convenient and efficient means of arrival for visitors to Aruba. With multiple piers catering to various vessel sizes and a range of transportation options available, you can expect a smooth and enjoyable transition from cruising to exploring all that the island has to offer.

The Main Cruise Terminal

At the Port of Oranjestad, the main cruise terminal serves as a central hub for cruise ship passengers, offering a multitude of services and amenities to enhance their Aruba experience. This modern facility provides a seamless transition from ship to shore, ensuring a smooth and efficient arrival process for all visitors.

The main cruise terminal is conveniently located near the downtown area, allowing passengers to easily explore the vibrant streets of Oranjestad as soon as they step off the ship. This prime location provides access to a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions, making it an ideal starting point for your Aruba adventure.

Upon arriving at the main cruise terminal, passengers will find a well-organized and efficient immigration and customs process. The terminal is equipped with dedicated immigration counters, ensuring a swift and hassle-free arrival experience. Visitors are required to present their passports and any necessary travel documentation for verification before continuing their journey on the island.

Inside the terminal, you’ll find a range of amenities and services to enhance your time in Aruba. Duty-free shops offer a wide selection of goods, including jewelry, electronics, souvenirs, and local products, allowing you to indulge in some retail therapy or pick up unique mementos to commemorate your trip.

Food and beverage options are plentiful within the main cruise terminal, providing a variety of cuisines to suit every palate. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack, a refreshing drink, or a sit-down meal, you’ll find plenty of choices to satisfy your cravings. From traditional Aruban cuisine to international favorites, the terminal’s dining options offer a taste of the island’s diverse culinary scene.

In addition to shopping and dining, the main cruise terminal also houses facilities such as restrooms, currency exchange services, and information desks where you can obtain maps, brochures, and guidance on local attractions and activities. The friendly and knowledgeable staff are always ready to assist with any questions or special requests you may have.

Transportation options are readily available just outside the main cruise terminal, allowing you to explore Aruba at your own pace. Taxis, rental car services, and organized tours can be easily arranged, providing you with flexibility and convenience in discovering the island’s hidden gems.

In summary, the main cruise terminal at the Port of Oranjestad is a bustling hub that ensures a seamless and enjoyable arrival experience for cruise ship passengers. With its convenient location, variety of amenities, and access to transportation options, the main cruise terminal serves as a gateway to the vibrant city of Oranjestad and the stunning sights and experiences that await you in Aruba.

Renaissance Marina

Situated in the heart of Oranjestad, the Renaissance Marina serves as another docking location for cruise ships visiting Aruba. This marina is part of the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino complex and offers a unique and luxurious experience for cruise ship passengers.

The Renaissance Marina is located in close proximity to the downtown area and provides a picturesque setting for cruise ship docking. Passengers arriving at this marina are treated to stunning views of the crystal-clear waters, lush landscapes, and the vibrant atmosphere of Oranjestad.

What sets the Renaissance Marina apart is its close connection to the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. Passengers docking here have the option to take advantage of the resort’s world-class amenities, including beautiful beaches, pools, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

As you disembark from your cruise ship at the Renaissance Marina, you’ll find yourself just steps away from the resort’s private island, Renaissance Island. This exclusive island retreat offers pristine beaches, private cabanas, and the famous Flamingo Beach, where you can mingle with friendly flamingos, creating unforgettable memories.

The Renaissance Marina also provides access to a wide range of shopping and dining options. The Renaissance Mall, located adjacent to the marina, offers a high-end shopping experience with designer brands and luxury boutiques. You can indulge in retail therapy while enjoying the picturesque views of the Marina.

When it comes to dining, the Renaissance Marina boasts a variety of restaurants and bars that cater to different tastes and preferences. From fine dining establishments to casual beachfront eateries, you’ll find a culinary experience to suit your every craving.

In addition to the resort amenities, cruisers docking at the Renaissance Marina can easily explore the downtown area of Oranjestad. The marina is within walking distance of popular attractions, including the historic Fort Zoutman, the Archaeological Museum, and the lively Renaissance Marketplace.

Transportation options are also available near the Renaissance Marina, allowing you to venture further and explore other parts of the island. Taxis and rental car services can be easily arranged, providing the flexibility to visit Aruba’s iconic natural wonders, such as Arikok National Park or the famous Natural Pool.

In summary, the Renaissance Marina offers a unique and luxurious docking experience for cruise ship passengers in Aruba. With its close proximity to the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, stunning views, exclusive access to Renaissance Island, and a variety of shopping and dining options, the Renaissance Marina ensures a memorable and indulgent visit to the island.

Other Cruise Ship Docking Locations

While the main cruise terminal at the Port of Oranjestad and the Renaissance Marina are the primary docking locations for cruise ships in Aruba, there are other spots on the island where smaller vessels may dock. These additional docking locations allow for a diverse range of cruise ship experiences and provide access to different parts of Aruba.

One such docking location is the Barcadera Pier, located in the southeastern part of the island. This pier is often used for smaller ships or private yachts, offering a more exclusive and intimate experience for passengers. Barcadera Pier provides a quieter and more secluded environment, perfect for those seeking a serene retreat while still being able to enjoy the beauty of Aruba’s turquoise waters.

Another docking location is the Aruba Cruise Terminal, located in the western part of the island, near the California Lighthouse and the beautiful Arashi Beach. This terminal is often used by smaller cruise ships or those with specialized itineraries. Passengers docking at the Aruba Cruise Terminal have the opportunity to explore the natural wonders of the island, including pristine beaches, breathtaking sunsets, and nearby attractions such as the Ayo Rock Formations.

These alternative docking locations offer a different perspective of Aruba and provide a more intimate experience for cruise ship passengers. While they may not have the same range of amenities and facilities as the main cruise terminal or the Renaissance Marina, they provide a unique opportunity to explore different parts of the island and enjoy a more personalized visit.

Transportation options are available at these alternative docking locations, allowing passengers to easily access nearby attractions, restaurants, and shopping areas. Taxis, rental car services, and tour operators are readily available, providing the means to explore the beauty and attractions that each specific location has to offer.

It’s important to note that the specific docking location for your cruise ship is determined by various factors, including vessel size, availability, and itinerary. Therefore, it’s essential to refer to the information provided by your cruise line or travel agent to determine the exact docking location for your visit to Aruba.

In summary, while the main cruise terminal at the Port of Oranjestad and the Renaissance Marina are the primary docking locations in Aruba, there are also alternative docking locations such as the Barcadera Pier and the Aruba Cruise Terminal. These alternative locations offer a unique and intimate experience, allowing passengers to explore different parts of the island and enjoy a personalized visit to Aruba.

Aruba, with its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and welcoming atmosphere, attracts numerous cruise ship travelers each year. Understanding where the cruise ships dock and what amenities are available upon arrival is essential for optimizing your time on the island.

The main cruise terminal at the Port of Oranjestad serves as the main gateway to Aruba, conveniently located in the heart of the capital city. Passengers disembarking here can easily explore the downtown area, indulge in shopping and dining, and immerse themselves in the local culture. The Renaissance Marina, on the other hand, offers a luxurious experience with access to the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino and its amenities, including Renaissance Island with its iconic Flamingo Beach.

Additionally, there are alternative docking locations such as the Barcadera Pier and the Aruba Cruise Terminal, which provide a more intimate and secluded experience, allowing passengers to explore different parts of the island and enjoy unique attractions and natural wonders.

No matter where your cruise ship docks in Aruba, you can expect a warm welcome and a seamless transition from ship to shore. The port facilities are well-equipped to handle the influx of visitors, with efficient immigration and customs processes, a variety of amenities, and transportation options readily available.

Whether you choose to venture out and explore the bustling streets of Oranjestad, relax on the pristine beaches, or embark on exciting adventures, each docking location in Aruba offers its own distinct charm and opportunities for an unforgettable experience.

As you plan your cruise to Aruba, be sure to check the specific docking location provided by your cruise line or travel agent. This information will help you better understand the amenities, attractions, and transportation options available at each port, allowing you to make the most of your time in Aruba.

Aruba’s cruise ship docking locations are designed to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for passengers. From the main cruise terminal to the Renaissance Marina and other alternative locations, each offers a unique perspective of the island and an opportunity to create cherished memories in this “One Happy Island” paradise.

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Subscriber only, travel | 8 new ships coming to norwegian cruise line, sister brands plus dock at great stirrup cay.

docking cruise ship

The parent company to Norwegian Cruise Line announced Monday a major order for eight new ships among its three brands as well as the construction of a pier to allow its cruise ships to dock instead of tender to its private Bahamas island for the first time.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said it was planning to bring on four new ships for NCL, two new ships for upper premium brand Oceania Cruises and two ships for luxury brand Regent Seven Seas, all to be built at Fincantieri shipyard in Italy and debut during a 10-year run from 2026-2036.

The NCL ships would be the largest ever built for the line at around 200,000 gross tons and capacity of about 5,000 guests. They won’t arrive until after the final delivery of its Prima-Plus class ships expected between 2025-2028, the larger sister ships to the Norwegian Prima and Viva that debuted in the last couple of years. The four ships from the unnamed class of vessel would arrive in 2030, 2032, 2034 and 2036.

The new class for Oceania Cruises, which in 2023 debuted its first new ship in more than a decade — the Oceania Allura — will also be the largest ever built for the line at 86,000 gross tons and a capacity of 1,450 guests. They’re expected in 2027 and 2029.

And the Regent Seven Seas fleet’s new vessels will also be larger coming in at 77,000 gross tons with a capacity of 850 guests. They’re expected in 2026 and 2029. Regent just debuted the third of its Explorer class ships in December 2023.

“This strategic new-ship order across all three of our award-winning brands provides for the steady introduction of cutting-edge vessels into our fleet and solidifies our long-term growth,” said NCLH president and CEO Harry Sommer in a press release. “It also allows us to significantly leverage our operating scale, strengthen our commitment to innovation and enhance our ability to offer our guests new products and experiences, all while providing opportunities to enhance the efficiency of our fleet.”

No other details about the ships were released. Financing is already in place to fund 80% of the cost for the four ships among the Oceania and Regent orders, but financing for the four NCL ships is not finalized.

The eight ships expects to add 25,000 more to the three cruise lines’ passenger capacity.

In addition, the line is set to construct a multi-ship pier at Great Stirrup Cay, the popular Bahamas private destination visited by all three brands. The move follows the introduction of a dock that can support two Oasis-class vessels at neighboring Perfect Day at Coco Cay for Royal Caribbean while other private Bahamas destinations including Disney’s Castaway Cay and its new Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point feature tenderless docks for easy access.

“We are likewise excited with the addition of a new pier at Great Stirrup Cay to support our increased capacity in the Caribbean and multiple ships to call on the island, enhancing our guest experience and bringing seamless and reliable access to our private island year-round,” Sommer said.

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  • Carnival Cruise Lines

Just how windy does it have to be to miss a port?

originalgeek

By originalgeek , July 14, 2016 in Carnival Cruise Lines

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originalgeek

or to cancel ferry boats to excursions...

Looking at the 16 day forecast for western Caribbean and it seems like the predicted winds will be 7 to 10 knots the week we'll be in the area.

But I have no idea if that's a lot. Or not. (Or knot).

Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay, Grand Cayman....

Got some excursions booked and I guess I'm just getting antsy lol.

Although, if something gets cancelled I guess that's more beer money! :D

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Micahs Grandad

It also depends upon tides but winds you are looking at are not bad.

Riskiest port is mahogany bay which has a narrow opening to the dock.

It also depends upon tides but winds you are looking at are not bad.   Riskiest port is mahogany bay which has a narrow opening to the dock.
Groovy, thanks! Man that would suck if Mahogany Bay got skipped though - the Cameo factory is the one single thing my wife picked out herself. She let me pick everything else but she really wants to get a cameo.

It is purely circumstantial. Too much wind and waves in Grand cayman and you cant tender. Too much wind and strong tides in mahogany Bay and the ship can't get in the channel. Those two are your biggest what if's...the rest are run of the mill...barring a major storm the day you're supposed to call at a port there should be no issue.

Think we have been on about six cruises scheduled to go there and missed it twice due to mother nature.

If it happens just book another cruise there.:)

poz222

7-10 knots is equal to 8-10 mph (conversion is 1 knot is 1.151 mph) so 7-10 is nothing for a ship. Usually winds above 25 it can start to get risky (but that also can depend on the direction of the wind).

It also depends on the ship and how comfortable the Captain's feeling. Many times ports are cancelled not because of winds when docking but on departure .

In Skagway ships will cancel the stop (rarely) because of scheduled winds at departure.

evandbob

It also depends upon the ship's structure as well. A larger ship with more area, termed sail, will have greater difficulty in a cross wind than a ship with a smaller, or lower area. Simple physics and safety determines the Captain's call.

30,000+ Club

Happily, it's not going to be very windy at all for you ... but the are sometimes other factors ....

crewsweeper

crewsweeper

Ditto what evandbob says. Should not be as much concern for the Conquest versus the Breeze, Magic, or Dream.

In Grand Cayman, though it's the port authorities call not the ship captain's that determines if tenders can safely dock.

Think we have been on about six cruises scheduled to go there and missed it twice due to mother nature.   If it happens just book another cruise there.:)

And in 13 years, maybe 15 visits, I've never missed either Roatan or Grand Cayman due to weather, sailing on mostly Conquest class ships.

Missed Belize once due to high winds and waves.

I recall a Carnival ship, possibly the Magic, damaging Grand Cayman's reef when its anchor couldn't hold bottom.

But I'd have the same attitude and would just book another cruise, well said.

chengkp75

More important than just looking at the wind speed is the direction and how long it has been blowing from that direction. Wind direction will create "waves", which, depending on their direction relative to the port channel and dock orientation , may or may not affect docking. The length of time that the wind has been blowing in one direction will create "swells", which may or may not be in the same direction as the waves caused by the current wind, and which may affect docking as noted above for waves. Wind direction will also affect the force required to come alongside or leave the dock, given the relationship between the wind direction and the dock orientation.

Now, for tendering, this creates a totally different scenario, as the boats will experience more motion from waves and swells than the ship, and the relative motion between the boat and ship will determine whether tendering is possible.

tonit964

We were on the Magic last summer and missed Mahogany Bay due to winds. I knew something was wrong when we were just sitting in the middle of the ocean not moving and seeing white caps.

The Captain really tried to wait it out but it was a no go. We've never been there before and I was pretty disappointed as were going to spend the day at Little French Key.

We had a great day on the ship anyway.:)

I hope the weather is in your favor.

RuthlessBoss

A few years ago, Dream couldn't back into the channel at Mahogany, not because winds were high. The winds were hitting the ship broadside. I think that channel has been slightly widened now making misses less often.

lol, yep - that's the plan. In fact, I can probably get away with it a lot easier and sooner if we miss this one. She REALLY wants a cameo. :)

Ahh that's a number I was wondering about. Here's to hoping the winds are in the right direction! And if not, we'll know while still on the ship and can go down and book the next one and get some extras.

And in 13 years, maybe 15 visits, I've never missed either Roatan or Grand Cayman due to weather, sailing on mostly Conquest class ships.   Missed Belize once due to high winds and waves.   I recall a Carnival ship, possibly the Magic, damaging Grand Cayman's reef when its anchor couldn't hold bottom.   But I'd have the same attitude and would just book another cruise, well said.

Wow you are lucky. Dont believe we have missed GC but have managed to miss HMC more than once and that is the big bummer.:)

Thank you all. In the end, can't nobody control the weather but you have all added to my knowledge I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to do so.

I can't hardly stand the wait for a week from Saturday and whatever weather comes to us. No matter what, we're going on a cruise! :)

Heres a little reassurance, but anything can happen at any time. We have sailed the Caribbean east, west, and southern 10 times and have never come close to missing a port.

5,000+ Club

On one of our cruises, we were within spitting distance from the pier at Roatan. I'm talking about fifty feet. Then the ship stopped and just sat there for maybe five minutes. We all thought the captain was letting the ship drift into the pier. Then he just pulled out and we left. Nobody could figure out why if he was that close that we didn't stop there. He later made the announcement that it was too windy to dock.

figdu

We didn't miss GC last year but did end up anchoring on the other side of the island because of wind.

Tonka's Skipper

Tonka's Skipper

The direction and strength of the wind are only two factors. Also involved is whether the vessel is anchoring or docking. Will the present conditions permit safe tendering?

The contour of the land and the sea bottom any breakwaters and the tides, currents and sea conditions all effect the vessel handling.

The bottom line is that it is the Masters decision. How he feels the above listed conditions effect his ability to safely anchor and/or dock. Has he enough bow and stern thruster power and prop or pod power.

In general terms if the if the wind direction is favorable to anchoring or docking, once its up to about 30-40 knots, the wind is a real problem.

Just a month or so ago a celebrity vessel ended up hitting the dock in Alaska, holed the vessel and did alot of dock damage, all due to strong and gusting winds.

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Cruise ships returning to Port of Camas-Washougal, months after cruise line went bankrupt Updated 1 day ago

Camas-washougal signs one-year agreement with american cruise lines to be ‘turn point’.

The American Harmony is one of five American Cruise Lines ships that sail the Columbia River.

CAMAS — Two months after unexpectedly losing its docking agreement with American Queen Voyages, the Port of Camas-Washougal has partnered with another company to bring back cruise ships.

The port has signed a one-year contract with American Cruise Lines, a Connecticut-based company that operates 19 small cruise ships along the United States’ Eastern and Western seaboards, as well as several major U.S. rivers, including the Columbia River.

American Cruise Lines contacted the port after American Queen Voyages’ bankruptcy, Port CEO David Ripp said. ACL wanted a long-term contract, “but we felt more comfortable doing a one-year agreement as a start to see how this would work.”

ACL will move from Hayden Island and use the port as a “turn point,” according to Ripp. “A turn point is where a vessel begins or ends its cruise.”

ACL offers six- to nine-day cruise packages on the Columbia River, with stops between Astoria, Ore., and Clarkston.

Five vessels, ranging in size from 220 to 328 feet with the capacity for 125 to 200 passengers, will make 89 stops at the port’s breakwater dock between March 31 and Nov. 8, according to the agreement.

Passengers won’t disembark

In February, American Queen Voyages announced it was suspending operations and canceling all reservations. Under the terms of a five-year agreement with the port, the American Empress docked at Parker’s Landing Marina during its Columbia River cruises in 2022 and 2023.

When signing the original agreement in 2022, port leaders said that they hoped to bring the American Empress, a 360-foot paddle-wheeler, to the region in an effort to increase tourism.

Stops at the port included a “hop-on, hop-off” bus bound for Washougal’s Two Rivers Heritage Museum, Pendleton Woolen Mills and Cottonwood Beach before heading to downtown Camas’ shopping district.

Though the American Empress may return to the Columbia River — ACL has purchased four ships formerly operated by American Queen Voyages, including the American Empress — the new cruise ship agreement between ACL and the port won’t have the impact on tourism.

“With the ACL agreement, passengers won’t disembark and tour our community, so it doesn’t have that potential for local economic development,” Port Commissioner Cassi Marshall said during the commission’s April 3 meeting. “I like the one-year trial … because I just want to make sure we pay attention to the potential impacts to our own tenants. I mean, it’s big, and will be here a lot. So I would like to kind of know about the feedback from our own tenants.”

ACL will pay the port $2.50 per foot, or approximately $65,000, as well as a $10,000 deposit.

Commissioner John Spencer praised the agreement’s financial terms — “a 4.6-fold increase in revenue is a good thing” — and ACL’s commitment to sustainability.

Three of the five boats meet Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 final emissions standards, Ripp said. The vessels will not idle at the dock but will run on generators overnight.

“I do feel a lot better about these boats being Tier 4, theoretically the cleanest that we can get right now without going electric,” Spencer said. “I have some concerns about that much activity long-term. … But it’s only one year, so we’ll see how it goes.”

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Nanaimo anticipates tourism boost as cruise ships return

I t's all hands on deck in Nanaimo, B.C., with cruise ships set to return to the Vancouver Island city for the first time since 2019. 

The Port of Nanaimo announced last week that the first cruise ship of the year, the Seabourn Odyssey, will be docking in Nanaimo on May 9. A second ship, the MS Regatta, is scheduled to arrive at the docks on Aug. 26. 

The Seabourn Odyssey will bring up to 450 passengers to Nanaimo, while the MS Regatta carries approximately 830. 

"We've got the space. We've got the availability. Our residents are keen to see the ships here and welcome the tourists," said Andrea Thomas, manager of engagement, content and cruise development with the Port of Nanaimo. 

Thomas says the current focus is on bringing smaller ships to Nanaimo. She says the port is working with a tour operator to put together day excursions so guests can explore the central island and visit areas like Cathedral Grove and local wineries. 

Mayor Leonard Krog says bringing ships back to Nanaimo is a positive economic development.

"Two cruise ships in a year is very good. But much like Oliver Twist, I think it's fair to say we want some more," said Krog. 

Tourism and local business impacts 

The cruise dock and terminal were built in 2011, with the goal of welcoming 25 to 30 ships each year.

But in the years leading up to 2019, only a handful of ships stopped each year as the port worked to establish Nanaimo as an option for cruise lines.

Before the pandemic forced the cruise industry to grind to a halt, 2020 was set to be one of Nanaimo's busiest years, with seven cruise ship stops booked. 

Ships were not allowed to return to Canada until 2022. 

Thomas says it's estimated that each passenger spends approximately $84 once off the boat — meaning that the two cruise ships combined could bring in just over $107,500 to the central island.

"It's a huge impact for the local economy from a tourism perspective," said Thomas. 

"Passengers get off cruise ships, and they've got money burning a hole in their pocket, and they want to spend it at our local businesses."

Kierra Maher, owner of Newfoundland to Nanaimo, a souvenir boutique located on Nanaimo's harbour walk, said the ships have a big economic impact, particularly for waterfront businesses. 

"The tourists really enjoy our waterfront so having the cruise ships be a part of that makes it that much richer for all of us," she said. 

Maher added that it would be good to see more investment in the area, such as buses that connect to downtown and the waterfront, more eateries and more places to sit and relax.

Shared dock with Hullo Ferries 

Despite the lack of cruise ships in recent years, the dock hasn't been standing empty.

Hullo Ferries, which has been offering foot passenger service between Nanaimo and Vancouver since the summer of 2023, has a lease agreement with the port and has been using the dock and the welcome terminal. 

With cruise ships set to return, Hullo Ferries and the port are working out what operations will look like when there are docking conflicts.

On May 9, Hullo will be cancelling sailings. Vancouver Island Ferry Company (VIFC), the company behind Hullo, says they are working with the port for long-term solutions and ways to maintain services during future dockings, including the Aug. 26 docking later this summer. 

"We're delighted to welcome the return of cruise ships to Nanaimo, anticipating the significant boost it will bring tourism in our community," read the statement from VIFC. 

A cruise ship is pictured at the Nanaimo dock in 2019, the last time cruises came through the city.

I only book a Disney cruise if it's going to the company's private island, Castaway Cay

  • I've taken eight Disney cruises, and I always book a sailing that stops at  Castaway Cay .
  • Castaway Cay is the company's private island and I love its adults-only beach area.
  • You can buy exclusive merch on the island and see Disney characters in special themed costumes.

Insider Today

Cruise bookings are predicted to reach record highs this year, but not all itineraries are created equally — especially if you're looking to sail with Disney Cruise Line.

Over the past decade, I've taken eight Disney cruises with my family and friends. When I book, I always make sure Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, is on the port of call.

Here's why you might want to do the same.

I love that the ship docks right at the island, so there are no tender ships involved

One of the biggest perks of Castaway Cay is that the ship docks right at the island.

Some other cruise line's private islands, like Norwegian's Great Stirrup Cay, don't have a dock, so cruisers must take tender ships (small boats) from the cruise ship to the island.

I hate taking tender ships, which can feel like a bit of a time sink, so this is a big bonus to me.

Getting around the island is easy with the complimentary tram

Castaway Cay is about 1,000 acres — though not all of it's developed — so it can take a while to talk to and from the ship to different spots on the island.

Fortunately, the island has a complimentary tram that I always use to get around the island.

The tram takes cruisers from a station near the ship to two other tram stops for the family beaches, and one tram stop at the adults-only beach .

This makes getting around the island with all of my beach gear easy.

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Speaking of gear, at Castaway Cay, cruisegoers can borrow free towels as soon as they get off of the ship. There are plenty of towel-return stations around the island, so I also never have to carry wet, sandy towels back on the ship.

I always stop to see the Disney characters in their cute beachwear

I enjoy seeing the Disney characters on the ship, but love seeing Mickey and his pals even more at Castaway Cay.

Characters usually meet in the morning from around 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., but exact times can always be found on the Disney Cruise Line app.

The best part about seeing the characters is that the lines to take pictures with them are never long. On a recent sailing, I saw Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Pluto all in 30 minutes. That would never happen in a Disney park.

And if you're a fellow character hunter like me, Mickey and the gang all have Castaway Cay exclusive outfits, which are adorable and make for great family photos.

I always take advantage of every chance to hang out at the adults-only beach

One thing I love about Disney Cruise Line and Castaway Cay is that there are plenty of adults-only spaces where kids are strictly not allowed. On the island, that spot is Serenity Bay Beach.

This peaceful chair-lined beach is a quiet spot away from the family beach, where I can sit back and enjoy the view or take a chair down to the water and let the waves crash over me.

Plus, just off Serenity Bay Beach is a fun beachside bar serving up drinks and snacks.

There's also the adults-only lunch spot where I always enjoy a beachside barbecue. My favorite things on the lunch menu are the ribs and macaroni salad .

Before returning to the ship, I send a postcard from the island and check out the special merchandise

I always make a point to stop in at the various shops near the family beach to see the Castaway Cay merchandise. On a recent trip, the shops had everything from spirit jerseys and T-shirts to Christmas ornaments and swimsuits.

And, before I head back to the ship, I stop at the Castaway Cay post office to send postcards back home.

The postcards I use can be found in the desk drawer of Disney Cruise Line staterooms, and are free to take. If you don't want to send the cute postcards off, you can also keep them as souvenirs.

Watch: Cruise ship captain breaks down 8 cruise ship disasters in movies and TV

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Eight passengers stranded on African island after Norwegian cruise ship left without them

A dream cruise vacation has turned into a nightmare for eight passengers left stranded on the African island of São Tomé and Príncipe after their ship left without them because they were late to return from a private tour.

The tourists — six from the U.S. and two from Australia — were aboard the Norwegian Dawn, a Norwegian cruise line ship , which departed from Cape Town, South Africa, on March 20 for a 21-day voyage up the coast of Africa set to end in Barcelona, Spain, on April 10.

But on Wednesday, the group of eight tourists was late to return to the ship by more than an hour for the all-aboard time of 3 p.m. from a private excursion on the island, which was not organized by the cruise line.

Jay and Jill Campbell of South Carolina were part of the group that was left behind.

They said that their tour’s operator notified the cruise captain that they were going to be late to rejoin the ship and that the local Coast Guard tried to get them on the vessel but that they weren’t allowed to board.

As a result, the couple and the rest of the group have been stranded for days on the island off Nigeria, grappling with language, currency issues and complicated travel to catch up with the ship.

“The lovely people of São Tomé were very gracious, very hospitable. They had reached out as much as they could to help us find hotels,” Jay Campbell said on NBC's "TODAY" show Tuesday morning.

“We were able to get to a tour agency there to arrange flights to the next port of call. ... Very difficult process — you’re dealing with multiple languages, language barriers, you’re dealing with different currencies ... finding someone that even has dollars ... trying to get an agent to understand where we need to get to.

"It’s one of those ‘You can’t get there from here,’" he added.

A Norwegian spokesperson called the incident a “very unfortunate situation” and said, “Guests are responsible for ensuring they return to the ship at the published time.”

The cruise line said that after the guests failed to return, their passports were delivered to local port agents, in line with protocol. The company said it was working with local authorities to understand “the requirements and visas needed for the guests to reboard the ship at the next available port of call.”

On Monday, the guests had made arrangements to rejoin the ship in Banjul, Gambia, but the ship was unable to safely dock there because of “adverse weather conditions” and “tidal restrictions,” Norwegian said. The guests were then contacted and provided with information to rejoin the ship at Dakar, Senegal, on Tuesday. 

Jill Campbell said they traveled through seven countries in 48 hours to arrive in Senegal on Monday night.

But the couple was reconsidering whether they even wanted to return to the cruise.

"We are considering whether or not we are going to board the ship. It is in dock here in Senegal," she said. "We believe there was a basic duty of care that they had forgotten about, so it does concern us."

"After what we witnessed, we truly believe that although there’s a set of rules or policies that the ship may have followed, they followed those rules too rigidly. I believe that they really forgot that they are people working in the hospitality industry and really the safety and well-being of the customers should be their first priority," she added.

Ultimately, the eight passengers did rejoin the cruise before 8:30 a.m. ET Tuesday in Dakar, Senegal, Norwegian told NBC News in an e-mail Tuesday evening, after this story originally published.

Norwegian said the passengers were responsible for making their own travel arrangements to rejoin the ship.

"Despite the series of unfortunate events outside of our control, we will be reimbursing these eight guests for their travel costs from Banjur, Gambia to Dakar, Senegal," a cruise line spokesperson said in a statement. "We remain in communication with the guests and are providing additional information as it becomes available."

A silver lining of the catastrophe was that the Campbells were able to connect with another Norwegian Dawn passenger — Julia Lenkoff, 80 — who was also left on the island, but for a medical reason.

Lenkoff was on a different day tour Wednesday. She had "medically disembarked" from the cruise to seek local treatment on that day, Norwegian said.

Norwegian said that its care team tried to call Lenkoff several times and was unable to reach her and that it worked with its port agent in São Tomé and Príncipe for updates on her health.

The Campbells met Lenkoff and were able to put her in contact with her family in California, who flew her home — a move Lenkoff's daughter said "saved her life."

"She's a world traveler. She travels all the time. So this was going to be one of her bucket list trips, because she's been to 120 countries so far, and she wanted to get to 130," her daughter, Lana Lenkoff Geis, said in an interview that aired Tuesday on "TODAY."

Norwegian said Lenkoff was escorted on a flight to Lisbon, Portugal, then put in the care of airport staff members to continue her journey back to the U.S., where she has safely returned.

Breaking News Reporter

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    A dry dock is a type of docking facility that can be flooded to allow a boat or ship to float in, then be drained once the vessel is positioned on supports. This gives shipyard workers access to ...

  10. Where Do Cruise Ships Dock

    Factors Affecting Cruise Ship Docking Locations. When it comes to selecting docking locations for cruise ships, several factors come into play. These factors play a crucial role in determining the ports of call and itineraries of cruise ships. Let's explore some of the key factors that influence the choice of cruise ship docking locations:

  11. Docking Locations on a River Cruise: What to Expect

    Definitely. If getting to the historic center takes an hour or more, that means you'll have less time to see the sights. In Moscow, for example, river cruise ships usually dock about 45 minutes ...

  12. How Much Does It Cost to Dock a Cruise Ship?

    While time is always a factor (and for cruise ships, most ports charge in 24 hour blocks), some charge by gross tonnage of a vessel, others by LOA (overall length). Below we've broken down the single-day cost of just the dockage fees (not including extra security, longshoremen, pilots, tugs, etc) for three cruise ships in three ports.

  13. Docking & Anchoring in St Thomas (USVI) Cruise Port Guide (2023)

    Harbors, Docks and Piers. With 3 docking spots in the Havensight Cruise Ship Dock and another 2 docking spots in the Crown Bay Cruise Ship Dock, it happens quite frequently that cruise ships calling at St Thomas will have to anchor in the bay and tender passengers to a pier right by the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie (the main city and capital ...

  14. Docking Of Cruise Ships

    Posted November 3, 2007. Most cruise ships have more gun ports and shell doors on the Starboard side, so they often prefer to dock on that side. But there are many variables that cause them to occasionally decide to dock on the other side. 1. They sometimes need to wash and paint the other side of the ship. 2.

  15. Crying Myself to Sleep on the Biggest Cruise Ship Ever

    Cruise ships have become, for a certain kind of hardworking family, a form of subsidized child care. ... "I never get off the ship when we dock," he says. He tells us he lost $6,000 in the ...

  16. Docking a Cruise Ship

    As the name implies, traditional cruise ship docking is how most cruise ships were initially docked. It also is the most commonly used method today. This docking technique involves aligning the ship parallel to a stationary dock. The ship's navigational officers work with the port's head pilot to maneuver the cruise ship alongside the dock.

  17. Cruise Ship Tracker, Itineraries, Schedules, Deck Plans

    CruiseMapper provides free cruise tracking, current ship positions, itinerary schedules, deck plans, cabins, accidents and incidents ('cruise minus') reports, cruise news

  18. Docking a Cruise Ship

    650. September 10, 2005. #5. Posted December 12, 2008. Usually, a ship will self-dock. Occasionally, a cruise ship will use tugboats to dock, if for example the wind is strong and/or from a particular direction, or if there are currents which might push the ship around. Also, some docks (e.g. Venice) insist on tugboats being used, as the bow ...

  19. Where Do The Cruise Ships Dock In Aruba

    Aruba's cruise ship docking locations are designed to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for passengers. From the main cruise terminal to the Renaissance Marina and other alternative locations, each offers a unique perspective of the island and an opportunity to create cherished memories in this "One Happy Island" paradise.

  20. Royal Princess Cruise Ship Docking in Nassau Bahamas (HD)

    We were on the Norwegian Escape and saw the Royal Princess cruise ship docking next to our ship in Nassau Bahamas. It was pretty neat to see a cruise ship p...

  21. Cruise Ports Schedules 2024-2025-2026

    Naples/Napoli is a major Mediterranean port (cruise, ferry and cargo) located in Southern Italy's Campania region. By population (around 970,000) the city is ranked Italy's 3rd largest (after Rome... Cruise port schedules 2024-2025-2026, ships in port, real-time port maps, cruise terminals information, parking, hotels, shore excursions highlights.

  22. Cruise Ship Dry Dock: What You Can Expect

    Dry dock time allows the ship's crew to replace things like carpets, bedding and upholstery, but the ship may also undergo major changes -- from attractions on the top deck to dining venues or ...

  23. 8 new ships coming to Norwegian Cruise Line, sister brands plus dock at

    The parent company to Norwegian Cruise Line announced Monday a major order for eight new ships among its three brands as well as the construction of a pier to allow its cruise ships to dock ...

  24. Just how windy does it have to be to miss a port?

    In general terms if the if the wind direction is favorable to anchoring or docking, once its up to about 30-40 knots, the wind is a real problem. Just a month or so ago a celebrity vessel ended up hitting the dock in Alaska, holed the vessel and did alot of dock damage, all due to strong and gusting winds. AKK. Edited July 15, 2016 by Tonka's ...

  25. Cruise ships returning to Port of Camas-Washougal, months after cruise

    CAMAS — Two months after unexpectedly losing its docking agreement with American Queen Voyages, the Port of Camas-Washougal has partnered with another company to bring back cruise ships.

  26. Docking In High Winds

    We're on the bridge as high winds make docking even trickier than it already is. Luckily, Koningsdam's highest ranking officer Sabine is at the helm. (Excerp...

  27. Nanaimo anticipates tourism boost as cruise ships return

    Two cruise ships, the first since 2019, are scheduled to dock in Nanaimo in the coming months. Officials are hopeful that bringing the ships back will boost the tourism industry and local economy.

  28. I only book a Disney cruise if it's going to the company's private

    Some other cruise line's private islands, like Norwegian's Great Stirrup Cay, don't have a dock, so cruisers must take tender ships (small boats) from the cruise ship to the island.

  29. Eight passengers stranded on African island after Norwegian cruise ship

    A dream cruise vacation has turned into a nightmare for eight passengers left stranded on the African island of São Tomé and Príncipe after their ship left without them because they were late ...