All Aboard: Embarkation Day Tips

Embarkation Day is always so exciting. You literally have your whole vacation ahead of you. Check out some of my embarkation day tips to help get your cruise off to a great start.

1. Seas the Day

I am a firm believer in getting your vacation started as early as possible. Every cruise line starts the boarding process at different times. But, for the most part, you can expect to start getting on board the ship at around 12-12:30pm. With that being said, if the crew is able to turn the ship around quickly (clean it up from the last cruise), they sometimes start boarding earlier. Also, the earlier you get to the pier, the lower your boarding number will be, which means you’ll be one of the first to get on board. Now, you may be saying, well what’s the difference when I get on the ship? Besides the fact that, hey you’ll be on vacation, on some cruise lines, they offer first come, first serve perks, such as the Vibe on Norwegian or for getting tickets to shows, like on some Royal Caribbean ships.

2. Start with some Light Reading

If you followed step 1, then you will most likely have a bit of time before you board the ship. But this isn’t just a waste of time! Use this as an opportunity to see what the ship has to offer on it’s first day and plan ahead. Usually the cruise line will give you one of their schedules (i.e. above is Norwegian’s Freestyle Daily) as you are checking in and then leave one in your room each night for the next day. By reviewing this as you wait, you’ll have an idea of what’s to come for the day and can see the types of events you should expect during your cruise. 

3. Let the Eating Commence…. NOW

You are on a cruise which means you are going to eat.  So unless you are planning to get one of those hard to get experiences (see #1), then heading to the buffet or dining room is a must. If you are among the first to get on the ship, heading to the buffet will allow you to miss the rush of guests getting on the ship and doing the same thing. That buffet/dining rush usually begins at around 1:30/2pm as that’s when a majority of people begin embarking.

4. Snatch those Reservations

A lot of cruise lines now allow you to book dining reservations, beverage packages and unique ship experiences before you set sail. But sometimes, certain things are only available for purchase once you are on the ship. So if there is a restaurant or activity that you couldn’t book before your cruise, be sure to head to guest services on your first day so you have the most availability and options.

5. Drop your Baggage

Usually, you are not allowed to go to your cabin until around 1pm. Until the cabin opens you obviously have to walk around with all of your stuff, so keep that in mind. Once the cabins open, head there to drop off your items and get a lay of the land. During this time the luggage you checked at the pier is usually delivered to your room and room stewards walk around to meet guests in their rooms. This is definitely a good introduction period for both the room and your room steward so definitely give it the time it deserves.

6. Take a Stroll Around

Once you’ve ate, made your reservations, dropped off your baggage, it’s time to do some fun stuff, get acquainted with your home for the duration of your cruise! Think about some places you know you’ll frequent during your cruise (i.e. restaurants, casino, shopping, club, etc.) and make a mental note of location and anything that sticks out that will help you remember where you are headed. Some cruise lines even help with this by providing indicators on the floor. For example, Norwegian usually has small fish printed on the rugs swimming towards the front of the ship so you know which way is front. I’ve also heard that Disney has stars on the carpet and the top point of the star always points forward and the two back points always point aft, which can help if you get a little lost.

7. Cruisers Assemble

EVERY SINGLE CRUISE STARTS WITH A MUSTER DRILL- you cannot get around it. Federal Maritime Law requires that all guests participate in these safety drills. Most cruise lines mark off guest names or room numbers to ensure everyone is there. Your room key will indicate your Muster Station number (i.e. the location you need to assemble in case of an emergency). I would recommend you head to your muster station early. A muster drill means the whole ship is trying to get to the same set of locations. It gets crowded- if you head to your station early, you won’t have to worry about the crowds. Same goes for the end. Once it’s over, you have the whole ship trying to move around. If you wait for the rush to diminish you’ll be better off. You definitely don’t have to wait a long time either. Give everyone a 5 minute start and it will be much easier to navigate the ship.

8. Sailaway Par-tay

This is the official start of your cruise! YAY! Every cruise line has a sail away party for guests to enjoy and kick off their cruise. Usually located by the pool, this party signifies the official start of you vacay. So go ahead, grab a tropical drink, dance along to the music and enjoy because guess what? YOU ARE ON VACATION NOW!

Well there you have it, my tips for a great embarkation day. Do you do any of these on the day you leave for your cruise? Let me know in the comments below!

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