The day you have planned over the past weeks or months has finally arrived and you are about to head out to sea. As you are following the signs to your cruise terminal, you round the curve and get your first look at the ship. The excitement has set in and you are ready to get into vacation mode where the drinks flow freely and all you need to do is relax and have fun.
Prior to arriving at the terminal, make sure you have your check-in documents organized and in a place where they can be easily located when needed, including the luggage tags secured to your luggage.
First stop is luggage drop off -
Give your larger pieces of luggage to the porters when you arrive at the terminal. They will load your luggage and deliver them to your room. Although you are not required to drop off your luggage, it is a good idea, so you are not having to haul your luggage through check-in and around the ship, waiting for your room to be available. Make sure you pack essentials in a smaller carry-on bag so you can change out of your traveling attire into your vacation clothes. (Don’t forget to bring cash to tip the luggage porters).
Check-in, documents and security -
Have your check-in documents organized and in a place where they can be easily located to share at check-in. Although this process is more relaxed than airport security, you will still go through the screening process.
Once at the check-in location, you will need to show your travel documentation to be verified, then you will have your photo taken for the ship’s verification. Your sail card will match with your photo and will be your ship identification for the remainder of the trip. Now you can put your photo ID and documentation back in a safe location because you will not need it again for the trip.
Some of the wait times can be long, so remembering you are steps away from your ship is a must. There are options to avoid the line and check-in quicker than the main line. Certain levels of the cruise line loyalty program have the option of priority boarding. You can purchase a "Faster to the Fun" option from certain cruise lines such as Carnival that help you bypass the lines when checking in.
When you board the ship
Once you board the ship, you may not be able to go to your room immediately. This is the perfect opportunity to tour the ship to get your barrings, since this will be your home for the next week. Touring the location of your dining room, entertainment venues, and the pools is a must. Now is a good time to visit the Spa and schedule your massage for later in the voyage. The buffet will be open with a plethora of food options for you to enjoy. Then, head back up to the pool deck and enjoy the music. Order you a fruity Caribbean style drink and get your relaxing.
Once they give the announcement where you can go to your room, go pick up your key card. The closer it is to the sailaway, you will begin hearing announcements for the muster drill process. Everyone has to physically go to their muster drill location, check in, and watch the life jacket demonstration. The ship will not be able to leave until all passengers have checked in. Don’t be the person whose name is called out over the loudspeaker.
Finally, it is time to head up on deck for sailaway. It’s festive, with live music and flowing drinks, and it’s a fun way to kick off your cruise.