What is Cruise Ship Time? (Is it Different Than Local Time?)

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Keeping track of time on a cruise ship is a challenge. Between mid-day naps by the pool and losing track of time taking part in an activity or show, it isn’t easy to stay on time. Throw time zone changes into the mix, and it’s enough to confuse even seasoned cruisers.

To make time management easy, cruise ships rely on “cruise ship time” rather than the time used by the local port. Cruise ship time is the time that the cruise ship uses. While cruise ship time is often the same as the local time, that might not always be the case.

What is Cruise Ship Time?

 MS Arcadia is a cruise ship in the P and O Cruises fleet leaving after visiting Killybegs, Ireland for the first time

Cruise ship time is the time that the cruise ship, which may differ from the current time zone or local time. It’s often the same as the local time, but it may vary depending on the itinerary.

Cruise ship time helps keep passengers and crew on the same clock, making time management easier when crossing time zones and entering new countries.

For example, some countries in the Caribbean don’t change their clocks for daylight savings time. Embarking in such a country after a time zone change might be a difference of two hours.

When a cruise ship changes the time, the captain will make an announcement over the ship’s intercom announcing the new ship time for all passengers. They may post signs around the ship and update the “cruise ship time” on your daily cruise planner.

When the ship time is not the same as the local time in the port of call, cruise lines advise passengers to follow the cruise ship time. Your shore excursions, arrival, and departure from the port are always scheduled in cruise ship time.

On transatlantic and transpacific cruises where the ship crosses multiple time zones, it’s common for the vessel to update the ship time each night to match the current time zone.

Using cruise ship time is an easy way for the cruise line to ensure that all passengers and crew use the same time when crossing time zones and factoring in daylight savings time.

Some cruises may not change the times at all, even when crossing time zones. Cruise lines and the ship’s captains determine the ship time to streamline the time management for everyone onboard the vessel.

Who Decides When the Ship’s Time Changes?

The cruise ship’s captain is in charge of changes to the cruise ship time. As head of the vessel, the captain is ultimately responsible for the decision to change the ship time and update passengers and crew on the changes.

When Does Cruise Ship Time Change?

Usually, cruise ship time will change at one or two in the morning.

However, the captain may decide to make the time change at a different hour. You will be notified of the time change and when to change the cruise ship time through an announcement on the ship’s intercom, the cabin TV, and your daily cruise schedule.

You can ask a crew member for assistance or visit guest services if you’re ever in doubt about the correct ship time.

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Victoria Ridley

I love to travel, see new places, and meet new people. I have been lucky enough to travel on multiple continents, as well as several cruise lines. I am passionate about sharing my experience with readers.

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