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Cruising Ports of Call

Going Ashore

Grand Cayman doesn't observe daylight savings time

by Linda Coffman

"Ship Time" or "Island Time"—Which Is it?

No one wants to be standing at the pier as their ship sails off into the sunset. Before going ashore, be SURE you really know what time it is!

Ship time vs. local time is a cause for considerable confusion. Whether clocks stay set on "ship" time or are changed as the vessel moves through time zones depends on the ship, the itinerary, and the time of year (whether the US is on standard or daylight savings time).

Most ships adhere to the time zone they are in and clocks are set forward or back to adhere to local time. Passengers are also advised to change their watches to the 'correct' timethere is usually a reminder card on your pillow before you go to bed. However, not all ships do that, particularly in the Caribbean! Some ships stay on "ship" time, which can be different from "island" time.

Here's where it's tricky on a Western Caribbean itinerary... Florida embarkation ports are in the Eastern time zone (and Eastern daylight savings time). Grand Cayman is in the same time zone so during standard time (from the last Sunday of October until the first Sunday of April) there is no problem. However, during daylight savings time, Grand Cayman will be one hour behind Florida because Grand Cayman doesn't observe daylight savings time.

If you arrive in Grand Cayman at 9am and your ship DOES NOT make the local time adjustment, it will be 8am ashore when the US is on daylight savings time. If Cozumel is on the itinerary, it is in the Central Time Zone, but DOES observe daylight savings time on the same schedule as the US. Therefore, Cozumel is always an hour behind Florida (and it's the same time there as in Grand Cayman during daylight savings time). Are you confused? Many passengers are.

The best way to insure that you return to the ship on time is to check
and double checkwhat time the ship is observing before you go ashore and make certain your watch is correct. Allow plenty of time to get back on board, especially in Grand Cayman where tendering is mandatory. Local tour operators are accustomed to the ships' schedules and will lend a hand with timing when you book your excursions. 

Hopefully, this is clearer than mud!

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