First-time cruiser? I’m sure you have a million questions, but there’s no need to lose sleep wondering about how it will all go. We are here to help!
Here’s what you need to know about getting on and off the cruise ship.
This is the process used by cruise ships to verify everyone who will be sailing on the scheduled cruise. Most likely, you will have a time slot at which you will be scheduled to arrive at the Port Terminal. Upon arrival, you will drop off your luggage with the Porters. Please be kind and give the Porters a tip for handling your baggage. They work really hard to ensure your luggage makes it to your stateroom safely! Your baggage will be scanned by security and delivered to your stateroom. Next, you will go into the Port Terminal to check in and be cleared for boarding.
You will need all of the documentation required by your cruise line, including potential testing results.
We recommend you bring a carry-on bag to keep with you until you receive your baggage at your stateroom. Your carry-on will hold medications, valuables, your laptop and other electronics, sunscreen, a bathing suit, and a change of clothes, as applicable.
Once you are cleared to board, smile for the cameras (there are many) and walk the gangway onto the ship. Your vacation has officially started! Do not expect to go to your stateroom right away, though. The staterooms are often still being cleaned from the previous cruisers who disembarked earlier in the morning. Instead, find a place to eat lunch, grab a drink, explore the ship, or relax by one of the many pools!
Before the ship leaves port, there will be a mandatory muster drill. This is
a safety exercise designed to familiarize all passengers with the location where they are to assemble in the unlikely event of an emergency. When finished, the cruise ship horn will blow as people gather on the lido deck to wave goodbye to dry land and those individuals who are waving bon voyage to the ship and her passengers.
From this point on, you will be free to enjoy your cruise and all the ship has to offer. If you have any questions, you can visit Guest Relations or simply ask any of the
staff you encounter. They will be happy to direct you to your next steps. They will also be able to help you with any services you did not schedule prior to the cruise, such as specialty dining reservations, spa treatments, and shore excursions.
Preparing to leave the ship will actually start on the last full day of your cruise, and your Cruise Director will hold a briefing to go over disembarkation procedures. We highly recommend attending this meeting, especially if it is your first cruise. They will share any forms which may need to be filled out prior to clearing customs.
They will also explain the options available for taking your luggage off the ship.
If you are going to have the cruise line carry your luggage off the ship, you will pack your bags and set them out in the hallway, usually by 10:00 pm or midnight. Your baggage will be picked up and carried down for disembarkation the next morning.
You will not see your bags again until you are off the ship, so be sure to keep what you need overnight and in the morning. This includes clothing for the night and the next morning, toiletries, and medications. The stories you’ve heard about passengers leaving the ship in the same clothes they wore the night before are true!
Early the next morning, your ship will be cleared by the port authorities and disembarkation will begin. Disembarkation often takes about three hours for all the passengers to leave the ship. If you opted to carry your luggage off the ship instead of having the crew move it for you, bring it with you when you leave your room. You will be responsible for your luggage and will not receive any help with it.
You will likely be assigned a group and time for disembarkation. Once your group is called, it will only take about 15 minutes. While you are waiting to disembark, you may head to one of the open restaurants for breakfast or to the coffee shop for your favorite morning pick-me-up. Be mindful that most of the crew are helping with disembarkation or preparing for the next group of passengers, so many public spaces and restaurants may be closed.
The final step after disembarkation is to go through Customs. Porters are not available to help you with this process. You may be required to show the immigration official your passport and Customs forms. Some passengers may be required to meet with immigration officials prior to leaving the ship. Because rules change based on the country of disembarkation and nationality of the passenger, it is best to follow all the instructions given while onboard.
Cruising is so much fun and is truly a great way to see the world. Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to get you on a ship! Let’s set up a time to discuss your first cruise.
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This Pre-Travel Checklist will help you prepare for a stress-free, relaxing journey knowing you have everything in place before you leave home!