It’s here- your first cruise! All the excitement and anticipation of your dream vacation means that you have planned excursions, booked a massage session, or simply bought a new beach tote. Finally, all your well-laid plans come together on the day you board and start your cruise, which is embarkation day. Yet the minute you see the ship in the distance when you enter the port, stress can set in. Here’s a quick rundown about what to expect on embarkation day and how to help mitigate all those pre-cruise jitters.
Getting To Port
First thing to consider when leaving on a cruise is arrival to your departure port. While it could be smooth sailing from the time your step off your plane to walking onboard and sipping mai tais, anticipate the need to get to your ship with plenty of time to spare on embarkation day. Most cruise veterans suggest that you arrive to your port city at least one day in advance to counteract any flight delays or unforeseen emergencies. No one wants to frantically play catch-up the first day of vacation if you miss the ship!
Related: Your Guide To Booking A Cruise!
Don’t forget to formulate a plan for getting to the cruise port. If you are staying in the area, plan to book a rideshare or taxi, find out about public transportation, or simply take the airport shuttle to your destination. If you decide to drive to the port, often there is cruise parking in port, but make sure that you book parking in advance as space can be limited. Don’t get stuck walking around with your luggage while trying to hitch-hike your way to the ship.
What To Do When You Arrive
After you’ve made it to port on embarkation day, it can look rather frantic with people dodging to and fro. First, make sure you have all your travel documents filled out and passports easily accessible in your carry-on bag. When you have everything you need to check in, then hand your larger suitcase off to the nearest porter, and they will be delivered to your stateroom later, usually before dinner. Make sure that you’ve already tagged your bags appropriately! You can print those tags out at home or get them from your cruise packet, and then folded to put into a clear tag.
Check in lines might be long, but you can help speed things along by using a check-in app on your phone or tablet. Most cruise lines have apps that cruisers can use to help with the process from booking excursions, and making dinner reservations, to help finding out what documents are needed. Make sure you consult the app beforehand.
Bring Your Patience
Try not to feel overwhelmed when you get to port- you will likely be sitting or standing in line from the time that you are arriving to the time that you sail away. Make sure you dress comfortably, wear your walking shoes, and have a light-weight carry on for essentials. Pro-tip, make your way to a specialty restaurant or quickly grab a slice of pizza once onboard because the buffet is going to be packed!
Remember The Muster Drill
According to the International Maritime Organization, a safety or muster drill must be held in within a 24 hour period. So don’t ignore the announcements when they call you for the safety drill- every passenger is required to attend. If you are unsure about where to go, simply ask a crew member for directions.
With a little pre-planning, embarkation day can still be exciting and fun-filled when you know what to expect. Don’t get caught off guard when you need to arrange transportation to get to port. Know what to do when you get to the ship dock, plus plan on standing in a couple lines, and don’t forget that muster drill. Keep those things in mind and you’ll be relaxing on your cruise in no time!