This seems like an odd tip. Particularly in this digital age. In this post, we’re going to explain why there is a very good reason why you should get an old-school wristwatch. Or at the very least, don’t depend on your smartwatch.

One of the best things about cruising is that you can visit multiple locations while your rooming and restaurants follow you. It also gives you the opportunity to go on excursions. Some of those excursions are far away from the ship. Some even up to an hour away. This allows you to see exotic locations. It also can create potential problems.

The cruise ship has an all-aboard time that everyone needs to be on the ship. If any passengers aren’t aboard, there is a real possibility that the ship will leave without them. Seems simple enough. If it takes an hour to get to the excursion, make sure to give yourself an hour to get back to make the all-aboard. There’s only one problem with that.

Ship Time

If you turn off your cellular signal on your phone (highly recommended so you don’t get charged roaming fees), the time on your phone will be the same as the time when you turned off your signal.

For example, if you leave out of Miami, your phone’s time will be locked to Eastern Standard Time. If you sail to Bermuda, you’ll be in Atlantic Time. Assuming the all-aboard time is 3:00 PM and you use your smartphone’s or your smartwatch’s time to be at the ship at 3:00 PM, your ship will probably not be there.

That’s because your watch and your phone weren’t set to “ship time” (ship time for each day is printed on your daily ship agenda left in your stateroom). Ship time can change depending on the time zone of the port the ship is docked. 3:00 PM Eastern Time is 4:00 PM Atlantic Time. So the cruise ship will have sailed an hour earlier. And if that happens, it will be on you to get to the next port or back home.

Get Yourself a Non-Smartwatch

There is a way to avoid this experience. Don’t depend on your phone or your smartwatch. They get synchronized with the cell towers which are synced to the tower’s local time. If you don’t disable cellular coverage, then you’ll be fine. If, on the other hand, you did disable cellular coverage,  you will not be on ship time. 

Perhaps you’re thinking your smartwatch is a good alternative. The problem with most smartwatches is that it is synchronized with your phone. Hence, the same problem your phone has with time will be transferred to your smartwatch.

We recommend these watches. We are an eBay affiliate and receive a small commission on items purchased. But the selection is wide. 

The easiest way to address this is to use a regular watch. Specifically, one that has to be set manually. This way you can be sure that the time is correct. No worries about not having turned off the cell coverage. You’ll make your boarding time and be stylish at the same time.


If you aren’t a watch wearing person, one of these cheaper watches may be more to your liking. Whichever you choose, make sure you get a watch you can set so you can fully enjoy your cruise. And avoid surprises when you get back from your excursion.

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