Enjoying Your Cruise: Departure Day
Here are some tips to carry you through Day One of your cruise adventure!
Before you leave the house, print out our Keeping Your Home Safe While You Travel article to take care of any last-minute preparations.
WHN Tip: If your flight is delayed or canceled
Contact airline personnel and mention that you're a cruise passenger with a schedule departure time.
Contact your cruise line as soon as possible to tell them about the flight problems.
Boarding the Ship
Get to the port early enough so you can board at least 90 minutes before the cruise ship leaves. Most larger cruise ships allow you to board several hours before final departure time.
WHN Reader Tip: Get On Board
Board the ship a few hours earlier than you're told to, so you can settle in and enjoy lunch before the late-day departure. This tip was given to me by my brother (a veteran cruiser) before I embarked, and it gave me a jump start on my cruise experience!" Melissa, NY, NY
Expect to go through security just like at an airport. Your checked baggage will be scanned through x-rays and metal detectors before being delivered to your room a few hours later.
Bring a carryon with medications and special needs items onboard with you to cover you until your luggage arrives. (Read What to Pack for a Cruise for carry-on tips.)
On larger cruise ships, you will be given a "mock" credit card – a card to charge all expenses while on the ship. Keep this card safe to avoid having someone else charge expenses to you account.
If you do lose your card, contact the ship's front desk or purser immediately. Let them know the last time you had the card and when you noticed it was missing. Ask if it's possible to reissue another card for your account.
Know what's covered. You will need to pay for drinks, gift shop purchases, casino expenses, spa services, doctor services and other miscellaneous costs.
WHN Tip: Manage Your Expenses
You might want to consider putting on a daily or total trip ceiling on all cards – a predetermined limit that can be spent for a certain time period. Consult your cruise line to find out more about this option.
While waiting for others to board, explore immediately! Get to know as much of the boat as possible so you know the options available later.
WHN Tip: Daily Bulletin - Stay in the Know
Daily bulletins are provided to each cabin telling you what's available when, the daily news, weather and info about your next destinations.
Change your watch to match the SHIP'S TIME, which often is different from the time ashore. Make sure you understand exactly when the ship debarks from each port each day (and which time this refers to!), so you don't miss the boat!
Once everyone has boarded you will have to do a safety or "muster" drill before leaving port. This is for safety reasons and is mandatory – everyone must take part. Usually you'll be divided into groups and you'll be instructed on how to use a lifejacket and where the lifeboats are located.
Many cruise lines have lock boxes/safety boxes available for guests. Ask for these on the first day so that you'll have one for the entire trip.
Have a cruise tip of your own to recommend? E-mail us!
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