(USATODAY.com) - For a lot of cruisers, port days mean go, go, go. Crowds clamor to get off the ship at each port of call - anxious to see the sights, go on shore excursions, shop for souvenirs and explore.
I tend to be among them. But I've learned there are delights to staying on the ship on port days too.
Why would anyone skip a port? Cruise passengers have various reasons including "been there, done that." Some experienced cruisers stay behind because they really enjoy the quiet ambiance of the ship when everyone else is onshore.
It's not a seaborne version of the spooky empty hotel inThe Shining, but it is a chance to have the ship practically to yourself.
Among the perks that staying onboard brings are:
Lounge-chair choices.Take your pick of a prime spot by the pool. You can sit and read, take a dip or just catch the views.
Open activities.With crowds dissipated, port days are a good time totry popular activities, which might include a rock-climbing wall, zipline, ropes course, waterslides and/or mini-golf course, among other things.
Free gym equipment.Get on all the machines you want without a wait. There will also likely be space in any of the fitness classes offered.
Learning opportunities.While there are fewer activities on the daily roster on port days, you may be able to take a computer or photography class and get quality time with the instructor. The same applies if you want to learn Bridge.
Spa time.You'll find appointments available and the bonus of port-day discounts - a deluxe facial reduced from $125 to $99, as an example.
Internet access.Connections will run faster without a lot of other people online downloading photos and doing Facebook postings.
Entertainment.See a movie in the theater - you won't have trouble finding a good seat. If you're in port in the evening, head to the karaoke bar and you can sing your heart out to a smaller, less intimidating crowd.
--Fran Golden is the Experience Cruise expert blogger and a contributing editor ofPorthole Magazine.She is the co-author of Frommer'sAlaska Cruises and Ports of Call.