Whether you’re cruising around the Caribbean, taking a voyage to Fiji or sailing the French Atlantic, you’ll always find yourself near an exciting port of call. Whether it’s unusual, magnificent or bustling with energy, a port of call isn’t just a fun stop during your voyage at sea – it’s much, much more!
So What is a Port of Call?
A port of call serves many different purposes, but it is important, first, to understand the standard definition of a port or port of call. A port of call is a place where ships dock during the course of a voyage to load or unload cargo, obtain supplies or undergo repairs. In the world of cruising for fun, a port of call can be a gateway to faraway islands, exciting countries, amazing land excursions, shopping, dining, museums, unknown cultures and the list goes on and on.
Depending on where you cruise and the length of your journey, your itinerary may include one or two ports of call for short cruises or 3+ ports of call for longer cruises. For example: a cruise ship will typically visit five ports on its Mediterranean itinerary and a Caribbean cruise may include a wide variety of ports of call such as: Ft. Lauderdale, Casa De Campo, San Juan, Charlotte Amalie and everything in between. A European cruise may include ports ranging from Amsterdam and Hamburg, Germany to Zebrugge, Belgium.
Fun facts about Ports and Inland Waterways
·All states east of the Mississippi River, 16 state capitals and a total of Forty-one states are served by commercially navigable waterways.
·The port areas of Seattle and San Francisco and New York-New Jersey have the largest number of ferry passengers in the United States.
·The top five U.S. ports ranked by “dollar value of foreign traffic” for 2000 were: Long Beach, CA; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY and NJ; Houston, TX and Tacoma, WA.
·The deep-water port located furthest from the sea is none other than Baton Rouge, LA-at miles 168 to 255 Above the Head of Passes on the Mississippi River.
Safety, Security and U.S. Ports of Call
Since 9/11, the U.S. Coast Guard has been enforcing numerous security measures on all ships entering U.S. ports. These measures include: a 96-hour “Notice of Arrival” requirement instead of 24-hours for ships entering US Ports/Ports of call. The notice should include a listing of all persons on board, including crew, along with each individuals date of birth, nationality, the appropriate passport or mariner’s document number, vessel name, country of registry, call sign, official number, the registered owner of the vessel, the operator, the name of the classification society, a general description of cargo, and date of departure from the last port along with that port’s name.
The U.S. Coast Guard has also created a “pilot armed escort program,” called the Sea Marshals Program, in the Ports of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. This program is designed to help reduce the threat of using commercial vessels as terrorist instruments.
In addition, each Coast Guard Captain of the Port of call has the power to employ any and as many security measures he feels may be necessary to ensure the security and safety of the port.
Other security measures include: screening of all passengers before they are allowed to board the ship and screening of baggage, cargo, and stores that are placed on the ship.