What Does It Mean to Port a Call?

What Does It Mean to Port a Call - Merchant Navy Info - Blog

A port a call is a scheduled stopover point for a ship on a voyage for the purpose of cargo operations. Or the transportation of supplies or fuel. A port where a ship anchors other than its home port. According to the Ship Monitoring, Reporting and Verification Regulations (MRV). A “port” can be defined as a port in a country where a cargo ship. Or passenger ship (cruise ship) stops to unload or load cargo or disembark passengers. 

Although the term port” has been expanded and generalized to include facilities and amenities available to people and cargo, the meaning of “port” has been interpreted quite differently. Port of call is part of the generalization subdivision of the term “port” and is used for all ships.

Port of Call is a technical term is used in all official ship documentation. For cruise ships, ports of call are the most important transit points for picking up passengers for their cruise vacations. Technically, cruise ports are classified as a subgroup of seaports, which also include cargo ports.

Who Visits a Port During a Voyage?

Is a port visited as part of a voyage to load and unload cargo, refuel, repair the ship, etc. Ship-to-ship transfers (cargo STS, fuel bunkers, etc.) carried out within a port of call are treated in the same way as when the ship is at berth. Ports of call may include both inland ports and seaports serving vessels in international transport. Further subdivisions may include fishing ports for towing and distributing fish, cargo ports for distributing cargo, and dry ports for maintaining and repairing ships.

A seaport, also known as a port of call, is a port where a ship stops for the orderly embarkation and disembarkation of passengers or, in the case of cargo ships, for the loading and unloading of goods. For cruise ships, ports of call are predetermined in the cruise ship’s possible itineraries, and the boat must call at these ports within a specified time frame.

Why Are Cargo Ships Different from Ports of Call?

The same applies to cargo ships, but the ports of call may change depending on need. During a cruise, if the ship heads to different ports of call according to the itinerary, passengers may be required to pay port access charges based on local taxes and fees.

This fee is typically billed to the cruise line. However, the company typically does not factor these port fees into the cruise fare and reimburses passengers. When a ship enters customs in a country for the first time, the first port of call is considered the “first port of call.

The Intertwined Impact of ‘Journey’ and “Port’

The terms “journey” and “port” are interrelated because they complement each other and complete the meaning of each term. A voyage by a ship may be made from one port to another, including a return trip, depending on the circumstances. A single voyage may include multiple “ports.” For some ships, such as ships engaged in naval service, the voyage from the first port of call to the last port of call, and then back to the first port of call, is usually considered a single voyage.

However, this may be different for cargo ships and passenger ships, where the voyage may be from port “A” to port “D” and via ports “B&C” in between. Voyage considerations depend entirely on the type of cargo, trade route, shipping company policy, etc.

The Impact of STS Operations at Its Final Port of Call

Conducting STS operations at its final port of call is considered the end point of that particular return voyage. Similarly, once the STS process is completed at the last port of call after departure, that is considered the starting point for the next voyage.

Ship staff and ship managers are making full use of the data collected at each port of call and during each voyage to a monitor parameter such as carbon dioxide emissions and ship fuel consumption. Total distance travelled, time spent at sea, etc.

Blank Sailing 

When a ship operator cancels a port of call, the ship deviates from its planned route for various reasons and must call at its assigned port or series of ports. This is called “air flight”. If cargo is loaded from this cancelled port, we will allocate another vessel to handle the cargo. If a ship unloads cargo at this port, the company may decide to unload the cargo at the next port and arrange a transfer from another ship, depending on the cargo demand.

Blank Sailing can have Several Reasons

  1. Blank Sailing may be required to stabilize freight rates due to reduced capacity on a particular route.
  2. The vessel is sold to another operator or outsourced.
  3. The vessel has been involved in an accident or damage requiring urgent repairs at the designated port or the nearest available port.
  4. Union or other port strikes.
  5. The ship was delayed due to bad weather or engine trouble, and certain port days were cancelled.
  6. Port berths are unavailable due to closures, repairs, congestion, etc.

Port Call Optimization 

Port Call Optimization reduces vessel residence time and improves utilization of port facilities. This allows ships to have a safer impact on the environment and improves safety management for ports, terminals, ship managers and service providers. As part of port call optimization, critical information is exchanged in real time between the port and the captain via satellite, internet connectivity and electronic communications. A port is seen as an overall organization consisting of the Japan Coast Guard, Customs, Port Authority, etc., and they communicate with each other. The ship maintains data systems that will allow for efficient future ship port operations. The Port Management Information System (PMIS) provides a variety of information essential to port optimization. 


For example, Important information that needs to be exchanged is: 

  1. Port name, 
  2. Terminal name, 
  3. Berth name, 
  4. The presence of a pilot at the pilothouse, 
  5. New regulations under local and international law, 
  6. Bollard capacity, 
  7. Tugboat requirements, availability, 
  8. Bollard spacing Distance 
  9. Material used for the fenders 
  10. Maximum speed in the waterway or port 
  11. Maximum permissible draft 
  12. Weather – presence of ice, fog, waves, surf, etc.


This information exchange interface should be made available to captains and skippers. For ship managers, this has the following advantages: 

  1. Reduced operating costs 
  2. Reduced cargo handling costs 
  3. Safe and clean environment 
  4. High-security standards in the port 
  5. Optimized port stay 
  6. Reliability Highly optimized ship port operations 


In addition to passengers boarding and disembarking at the port of shipment. Traveller and crew care requirements are also transferred to the ship. This further contributes to the indispensability of these ports of call. In addition to these comments regarding ports of call. This interpretation of the term also includes intended pit stops during long leisure trips.

Ports are an integral part of the maritime sector. Without their presence, the entire naval operation would be in vain. Over the years, technological developments have brought many improvements to the port sector, thereby increasing its importance and reliability in normal cases.

Scroll to Top