All aboard! If you have never done a cruise and are in doubt as to how you can and should spend the first day on board, these guiding tips are for you! Embark with the lesson learned so that your first day on the ship is perfect and unforgettable.
1. Arrive Early:
Many times the day of embarkation begins the day before when you have to catch a flight to the port where the ship is moored. Other times you start early in the morning when you go to the place of embarkation, but in any case, it is important that you prevent traffic delays and be punctual. That means arriving in advance, because the ship will not be waiting for you!
2. Drop your baggage and go through security:
Once you arrive at the cruise terminal, hand over your luggage to the security guards who will label your bags. If you want to save time, you can print the luggage tags provided with your cruise documents and attach them to your bags before you reach the port.
And be aware that only after a few hours will you review your belongings that will be deposited, directly, in your cabin.
After dropping your luggage you must pass a security screening similar to the one at the airports where your hand luggage will be observed and where you will go through a metal detector.
Often, you may have to fill out a health questionnaire.
3. Check In:
After passing through the security station, you should go to the check-in location for the cruise. It will not be difficult to identify this zone because there will already be a queue at the start … Count on some waiting time.
At the check-in is issued the cruise card (which will serve as your identification on the ship), debit / credit card and room key. If you want to expedite the process at the check-in counter, you can fill out the paperwork online at your cruise company’s website before boarding.
4. Take the Picture on the ship:
After you check in you will be directed to a waiting area (if the ship is not yet ready to accommodate passengers) or to the hall to board immediately. This is where the photographers of the ship will propose a photo to you in front of a scenic background. The photo is paid and not mandatory, but most passengers do not dispense this souvenir.
5. Change clothes:
It might not be a good idea to spend the day with the clothes you boarded, especially if you came from a cold, all-encased place, and will spend the day sweating. And the same advise to those who travel from a hot zone but will embark in an area where a warmth is welcome. However, as luggage may take a long time to arrive in your cabin, you may want to bring a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage while your suitcases do not arrive (a bathing suit, tshirt, shorts, slippers …). Also carry in your hand luggage medicines and other items you may need until your luggage is returned.
6. Go through the information desk
You must also go to the ship information desk to validate your account on board. Extras are not included in the price of the trip – as you know – and are not paid at the same time. A cruise ship works like a hotel: you will be asked for a credit card to debit all your extra expenses on board and on the day of arrival at checkout you will only have to confirm that the charges are correct.
7. Check meals and book onboard entertainment
Enjoy the first day for reservations in advance: that spectacle you do not want to miss, the spa treatment, a dinner in a restaurant of the specialty.
And check out the activities available on the first day through the newsletter, in your booth, with the list of offers. Apart from some more punctual activities, know that you will have at your disposal restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, casino, and swimming pool.
Other activities should be booked in advance, such as shore excursions. Go through the tour desk and start planning the best options for tours in the different places where the ship will stop. Some tours have limited vacancies that exhaust quickly, so the earlier you book the better. You can even do it online before boarding.
However, if you prefer you can go out and visit the ports at your own risk.
Another suggestion to deal with on the first day is the purchase (or not) of beverage packages. If you are not on an all-inclusive cruise, or if you forgot to buy the package in advance, you should now take the time to calculate the values of the drinks in the bars and check if it is not worth buying a package.
If you are traveling with children, do not forget to enroll them in the kids club and enjoy the first day to check if you need to make any special requests regarding your cabin, such as changes in bed configurations and / or changes in meal times on board, dietary restrictions, etc.
8. Relax and drink a drink
It is tradition to enjoy your first drink on board after boarding, so you will find crew members loaded with trays of tropical drinks trimmed with umbrellas either in the pool or on the upper decks. Enjoy … even if the drink is not free.
9. Explore the ship
Once you have your drink in hand, it’s time to start exploring the ship! Just as you would recognize a house you were to live in for a week or two, so you must do the reconnaissance of the ship. Check where the closest elevator to your cabin is, restaurants, access to the pool, spa, bars, nightclub, entertainment areas, spaces for activities and sunbathing areas.
Some ships offer a courtesy orientation tour on boarding day, an excellent opportunity both to obtain reconnaissance of the terrain and to request additional explanations, if necessary, from crew members. But if you are not offered this courtesy visit, do it on your own, starting at the top and descending gradually, preferably using the stairs because on the first day on board the elevators are always full. It is that in addition to the passengers who walk from one side to the other that not even silly cockroaches, are still being used by the crew members who carry luggage between the decks .
10. Put the phone on airplane mode
Dispatch the latest phone calls, the latest messages, the latest social media posts before you leave the network (if you do not have Internet packages or do not want to pay for roaming while traveling). Relax, get out of new technology and turn off the phone or put it in airplane mode when the ship sails.
11. Go for a Dive
Psst! The pools and whirlpool tubs are open the first day on board, you know? And the first day on board, usually, are not full. On the contrary, it will be very easy to find these types of empty places, not least because most of the passengers did not put a bathing suit in their carry-on!
And when the hunger presses, lunch. But try to avoid the buffet because it is one of the most crowded places on board on the day of boarding, everyone has had breakfast early, everyone is relaxed and excited … everyone is full of hunger! So make sure there are other options to get away from the crowd.
13. Find a good spot to enjoy the sail away
And now! The ship is leaving! Climb to the upper deck to better enjoy the views and this festive moment, often celebrated with live music and drinks. If you prefer to see the coast disappear in the distance as you enter the sea, look for a privileged grid on the upper deck. And if you want a mix of both scenarios, try the terrace, above the pool on most ships, where you can watch the festivities below and still look at the ocean.