December 3, 2019
The big day is here! You have been waiting for this cruise for months, and now is the day to get on the ship. For experienced cruisers, this is a piece of cake; but for those new to cruising there is a lot going on and mistakes can be made. With a few strategies in hand, you can board like a boss, and get yourself set up for the perfect cruise! So; here are some tips that will help ensure your day goes smoothly.
Arrive one day early
One thing cruisers need to know is that ships don’t wait for anyone. If you’re late, your ship leaves without you. Flying in on embarkation day means there is no room for error. If your flight is delayed or cancelled for whatever reason, you might miss your ship. Arrive a day early, and spend a relaxing night in a local hotel. It takes all the stress out of the day and ensures your cruise is off to a good start. Plus, it’s another day of vacation!
Book as much as possible online in advance
There are lots of activities on board which require reservations. Shore excursions, speciality dining, and entertainment to name a few. These often fill up months in advance so once you get your trip paid for, go to the cruise line’s web site and create your profile for your trip. Then you can book things in advance while you have the best availability. The earlier the better. If you wait until you get on the ship, you might be out of luck or be forced to settle for a day and time that doesn’t suit you. Also, download the cruise line’s app. They are great for getting information, as well as giving you the ability to plan your cruise and maximize your enjoyment!
Check-in online and get your e-ticket.
Once you get your cruise paid for, you can “check-in” online for your cruise. This lets you print off your e-ticket, which is like an airline’s boarding pass. You can do this when you get to the cruise terminal but it will mean wasting valuable time that could be spent on board with a drink in your hand!
Pack a day bag
When you check-in at the cruise terminal, you have to check your bags. What you may not know is that it will be hours before you see them again. Imagine checking in on one of the biggest ships, which can accommodate upwards of 6,000 passengers. That’s a lot of bags for the crew to handle. They will deliver them to your cabin (usually drop them in the hall by your door) at some point, but it could be quite a while. So; pack a day bag for embarkation day and put in things you might need until you get your luggage. For sure you want to keep medication, laptops and cameras, and other devices with you; but if it’s warm where you are starting your trip you might also want to go to the pool, so pack your swimsuit and sunscreen. It’s actually a great time to go to the pool because most people won’t have their swimsuits yet, so it won’t be very crowded.
Go to your cabin ASAP
I would recommend the first thing you do when you get on board, is go to your cabin and check that everything is as it should be. Make sure it’s the cabin you paid for, and make sure that everything is in working order. You will have a cabin steward for your entire cruise. They are usually not far from your cabin. Tell your steward ASAP if anything is wrong. If you can’t find your steward, then go to guest services and tell them.
Go to Guest Services
I would recommend the second thing you do (if necessary) is go to guest services, especially if there is something wrong with your cabin. If the ship isn’t full; complimentary upgrades or upgrades at a reduced price are possible. Hopefully, you don’t need to go because you booked everything in advance but if you do, get there as early as you can because there is always a long line up on the first day.
Avoid the buffet
There are many dining options on board ship and the buffet(s) is very popular. On embarkation day, it’s usually very busy. A better alternative is to go to the main dining room. You can have a much more relaxing meal and drink while you wait for your bags to be delivered. While you are in the dining room, you can also confirm they have you down for the dining option you requested. If you requested a small table (for 2) at the early seating then it’s a good idea to double-check that’s what the staff have you down for. If you need to make a change, now is the time. Also, if you have any special dietary requirements, this is also the best time to confirm them with the dining room staff.
Register the kids at the kid’s club
Cruises are perfect for families and ships offer an enormous variety of activities for all ages. Depending on the age of your child and the type of activity you want to take advantage of, you might have to register your kids. For example, Royal Caribbean offers their Aquanauts Program, which is a great program designed for kids aged 3-5. You have to take your child to the facility and register them, which involves providing information and filling out forms. Programs like this are provided “space available” so first come first served.
Believe it or not, embarkation day can also be a good day for some bargain hunting. Take a swing by the shops. On Celebrity Cruises, these areas are referred to as the Piazza or the Galleria. The staff are going to be working hard, right off the bat, to create some buzz and excitement to get you into their retail facilities on a day when most people have other priorities. To do this, they often have some promotions going, with draws and raffles put on. The spa is also a spot worth checking out because they too are trying to drum up business on the first day, which is typically a little slow for them. Take advantage of the timing!
Embarkation day doesn’t have to not be fun! There are still lots of opportunities for those with a little knowledge and a little initiative to get their cruise off on the right foot! While the other passengers are milling around waiting for their bags, you’ll be calm and relaxed and already in vacation mode! Oh, and don’t forget the muster drill! It’s the safety drill, or lifeboat drill, that is mandatory before the ship sets sail. If there are still any items on your to-do list on embarkation day, as soon as the drill is over, get where you need to go as soon as you can. This is one time when the tortoise does not win the race!!