What is port of call?

When the ship leaves the port of origin, it may halt at a port in between before reaching its final destination port. This halt port or intermediate stop is called the port of call.

Also called port of refuge, port of call is usually not a part of a ship’s itinerary. The vessel may “call” the said intermediate port and need a stopover due to various reasons, like:

  • Cargo operations (cleaning, repairs, or maintenance)
  • Stock up supplies (fuel, food, etc.)
  • Load and unload cargo
  • Ship-to-ship transfers
  • Crew change
  • Bad weather conditions
  • Unforeseen emergencies

For container ships, containers are usually loaded or unloaded at the port of call. A port of call can refer to both inland depots and major marine seaports — domestic and international.

So, for example, let’s say a vessel leaves from the Port of New York (U.S.A.) and its final destination is the Port of Nhava Sheva, Mumbai (India). If the vessel halts at the Port of Johannesburg (South Africa) to relieve its crew, the Johannesburg port will be its port of call.

By the same extension, there can be numerous ports of call if the vessel takes multiple stops before reaching its final port of destination. When the ship enters a new country and makes its first customs entry, the first port of dock will be called “First Port of Call”. All other in-between stops are referred to as ports of call.

Depending on the reason for stopping, port of call can also be divided into subcategories, like:

  • Dry harbor (for vessel maintenance)
  • Cargo harbor (for cargo dispersal)
  • Fish harbor (for dropping fishes), etc.

Blank Sailing

In case a ship operator cancels a port of call, and diverts the route of the ship due to any reason, it is called blank sailing.

Port of Call Optimization

The process of minimizing a ship’s dwell time in a port of call and utilizing the facilities to the fullest is called port of call optimization. Vessels try to optimize their stops for maximum productivity and operational efficiency, as well as reduce overhead charges, save time & money, and increase profits.

Other than this, the term, port of call, is also used for cruise ships; a halt taken to onboard or deboard passengers. However, unlike commercial ships, port/s of call are usually pre-decided and pre-assigned for cruise ships as per their itinerary.

Terms related to Port of Call

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