Dive Deep with Overnight Port Stays

10 Ways to Enhance Your Overnight Stop

Sponsored by Azamara Club Cruises

In the past, cruise ships rarely made overnight port stays, preferring instead to use the time to travel to another destination. Which of course we can all agree is a fantastic way to travel, as you wake up ready to explore a new place…but what about having enough time to truly immerse yourself in a place?

Azamara Club Cruises® understands that to truly experience some of the world’s greatest destinations, you need more than a few hours around the port. Instead, they’ve created more sailings with overnight stays for a more immersive experience.

Spend your time in port wisely. These 10 tips will help you make the most of every moment.

Festivals or Fairs

A great way to see a slice of the local culture is through fairs and festivals. Often times, you’ll stumble upon these simply by exploring on foot through the city.

Most cities host numerous exciting cultural events throughout the year, particularly during the high season for travel when weather is the best. You can check the official tourism sites for the port city or of course seek recommendations from fellow passengers on the ship who may have received recommendations before leaving.

Local Cuisine

Yes, food on a cruise ship is free and Azamara customizes according to the destination you’re visiting. But there’s nothing like sampling the local fare from a small street vendor or restaurant to truly experience a destination.

  • Shanghai: be sure to savor the city’s clever xiaolongbao, which are tasty, little dumplings filled with hot soup
  • Norway: awaken your taste buds and nose with Slid, also known as pickled herring
  • Bali: Gado-gado is a vegetable dish covered in peanut sauce
  • Amalfi: Join Azamara’s executive Chef at a local village to shop for local ingredients, then incorporate these ingredients into the evening’s Italian menu.
Azamara’s onshore program, Cruise Global, Night Local, will let you enjoy the nightlife without any planning of your own.

Local Nightlife

Whether your trip involves tasting the local wines or simply people watching, don’t discount the enjoyment of local nightlife. Every city changes just a bit as the sun goes down and you’ll find a new crowd emerging to cheer on their favorite soccer team, dance the night away or simply stroll through the beautiful surroundings.

Sporting or Cultural Events

Some destinations are famous for their cultural performances or sporting events and seeing them in person gives you an entirely new appreciation.

  • Have a night or two in Moscow? Check out the schedules of the various venues, including the Bolshoi Theatre and the Moscow Operetta Theatre.
  • Find yourself in Ireland? Seek out a hurling match! You’ll be fascinated by this sport which is rarely seen in the US, but hugely popular with every age there.
  • Exploring Hong Kong? This is the perfect time to see a dragon boat race in person!

Bolshoi Theater, dumplings, Murano canal, Wahiba Sands

Explore Outside the Port City

Many of a destination’s best attractions will be outside of the port of call, so don’t limit your exploration to the immediate city. This extended time in port means you can enjoy an all-day experience without fear of missing your boarding time.

  • Venice: During your port stop, hop aboard a vaporetto to Murano to visit the island’s famous glass works and, perhaps, pick up a few stunning pieces as souvenirs.
  • Oman: With an overnight stop here experience one of their unique excursions, overnighting in a Desert Night Camp! Meet a local Bedouin family, enjoy an authentic Arab barbecue dinner or even sand board through the Wahiba Sands.


Yes, you could depend on taxi services to get them from one place to another, but in some cities, it may make more sense to hire a car or private tour service.

A little up front investigation, may surprise you to find a private tour guide is extremely reasonable and less worrisome than attempting to obey their traffic laws on your own.

We’re also a fan of foot power, both your own and local pedi-cabs which can often be found near the port! This mode of transportation is slower and that means you can truly take in the sights and even snap a picture.

Dress Appropriately

Depending upon the location of your overnight port stay, you may need to consider changing weather conditions or cultural sensitivities.

If you’ll be staying overnight in an Islamic country, such as Oman, it’s important to understand local culture. Women should make sure to keep their legs and shoulders covered. Many seasoned travelers recommend packing a large, lightweight scarf that can be worn around the shoulders and also be used for other purposes during a cruise.

In other locations, the temperature may drop quickly once the sun goes down so leaving the ship with a jacket is always advised.

Shop Local

Souvenirs with meaning or crafted by local artisans are those that we often treasure the most.  With extended time in port, you’ll have time to explore street vendors and small shops, rather than ducking in to the last place you spot on your way back to the ship.

Talk with Your Travel Agent

The more knowledgeable you are about a destination, the better your chances of finding that rare gem of a tour, expedition or attraction that could possibly be the highlight of a trip. That is why it’s important to discuss your itineraries with your travel agents as these professionals can provide valuable information about port cities and the surrounding areas.

An experienced travel agent can also help create a customized itinerary for your overnight stay that takes into account personal tastes and preferences.

Book Excursions Early

Once you’ve decided what tours and attractions to see, book them as early as possible. Popular excursions tend to fill up quickly and you want to maximize your on shore time by having a plan before you disembark…unless you’re a more spontaneous traveler. In which case, enjoy your freedom to explore without time restrictions and go where the night takes you.

And don’t forget to explore all the Azamazing evening experiences on Azamara Club Cruises® that are lined up to help you dive in to the local culture.