The excitement of boarding a cruise ship is finally back and you might be getting ready for that next cruise. I know I cannot wait until September when I board the Carnival Horizon. Today I share some of the tips I have to make your embarkation day easier.
Arriving at the port
With the exception of your carry on, drop your luggage at the curb with the porters. They will deliver your bags usually prior to departure if not soon after. Just make sure you have your documentation in your carry on and your tags are securely on your luggage. Remember to tip, about $2 a bag should be good.
All the cruise lines have an app now that you can use prior to your cruise but mostly on the ship. More now then ever it will be important for you to download that app either before the cruise or soon after you board.
The app is used to see activities, dining menus and now even the muster drill. You can also use it for making dinner reservations, booking shore excursions and even order drinks. You will use the ships WIFI for the app but will not be required to purchase a data plan.
Have your proof of citizenship and boarding passes ready to present when needed. This will make things faster if you are not having to dig through your bag. You don't want that look from me. Kidding. Either have them in your hand or in an easily accessible pocket in your carry on. If you can use the boarding pass on your phone, that is even better.
For almost everyone, the first thing you want to do is grab food. Well ships now have so many options. The tendency is to head up to the buffet on Lido which is usually really good but can be crowded.
Instead, look on the app I told you to download and find out what venues are serving lunch. For a lot of ships, there are places on promenade or even the dining room where you can grab a quick bite and its likely not very crowded. Even the specialty restaurants might be serving complimentary lunch or maybe a lower price. A great example of this is Cucina Del Capitano on Carnival serves a free lunch every day of your cruise. On the Harmony of the Seas, you can grab lunch at Jamies Italian, which is fantastic by the way, for a lower price than dinner.
Typically your stateroom will not be available until around 1pm or 1:30 depending on the ship. Once your stateroom is ready, drop your carry on and go.
Take a tour
One of the things I really like to make sure I do the first day is a walk around the ship. Check out where the dining room is, the coffee shop, the hidden decks, even the fitness center. But be careful, you might get pulled into a spa tour and those people are great salesman.
Sometimes you need to change a time or make a reservation or even make sure friends and family are dining together. The time to do that is now. Speak with the Matr D and they will be able to help. Of course reservations at specialty restaurants can usually be made on the app.
What else can you do?
Well, the pools, slides and other activities are all usually open by the time you board. Make sure you have your swimsuit in your carry on so you can throw that on for a quick swim if you want. Towels are available at the pool or usually already in your stateroom for your use.
One of the requirements before the ship departs is everyone on the ship must go through the muster drill. The great thing is, this has changed a bit and a much easier experience. Before the pandemic, at around 3:30 all of the bars and restaurants would shut down and everyone would gather at their muster station for a presentation on what to do in an emergency. With technology, this has improved. Instead, you will watch a video either on your phone or stateroom TV and then check in at your muster station by a certain time. Get this done as soon as you can so you can get on with your cruise. As a warning, anyone who does not complete the muster drill is removed from the ship.
As the ship leaves port to start your vacation, a huge party breaks out on deck with music, dancing and the drinks are flowing. If you prefer a little more piece, head to the front or back of the ship for a great view of sail away but for sure, do not miss it. If you have a balcony, that can be a fantastic and usually quiet way to enjoy sail away.
After sail away, there are so many things to choose from to do. Get in a swim, watch the sunset, grab dinner, wander the ship, get a drink, the list could go on and on. Most importantly, this is your vacation so go enjoy and make the most of it.
Share the knowledge
I have a passion for travel and believe travel is about experiences. Experiences create memories and are the stories we tell to friends and family - even with a little fudging on the facts.