The time has arrived, you’ve reached the port, welcome aboard, you are now ready to start your vacation.
If you are first time cruisers you may not know what to do next, so we’d like to offer up a few suggestions.
Every cruise line welcomes its passengers aboard in their own unique way, although they all have a photographer to catch you at your best after stepping off an early morning flight!
Safety and security measures are, however, common across all cruise ships.
At some point during boarding you will find a security scanner for your baggage, just like at an airport.
You may be asked to use hand sanitisers on boarding. These help to prevent the transmission of Norovirus and should be in place across the ship, particularly where food is served.
The first thing you will probably want to do when you finally get on board is find your cabin. You will be welcomed aboard by members of the ship’s company who will show you the way.
When you arrive at your cabin your steward will appear at some point to introduce themselves and show you how everything works. Make them your friend, this is not normally a problem, they are usually very helpful.
If your luggage has been delivered, it’s good to unpack as soon as possible so you’ll be able to stow your cases and make room in your cabin, always a good idea.
Don’t panic if your luggage isn’t in your cabin when you arrive. It may take a few hours for it to be distributed especially on a larger ship.
It may be worth packing a lighter outfit or swimsuit in your hand luggage if you are arriving early in the day.
There are plenty of things you can do while you are waiting for your luggage.
It is important to check to see when the lifeboat drills are scheduled, these are now carried out before the ships leaves the embarkation port and are mandatory.
Learn the exit routes from your cabin to the open decks and where your lifeboat muster station is located in case of emergency.
Check on the shore excursions that are available for each port of call. Some cruise lines organise a presentation of their excursions – check the time and go along even if you have already planned your trips – you may learn something extra.
Investigate when booking for the excursions opens and make sure you get your requests in early to avoid disappointment.
(Check our advice for each port in the Mediterranean to see what you can do on your own)
Grab your deck plan and take a walk to familiarise yourself with the layout of the ship. Learn how to reach your cabin from the main stairways. Where are the different restaurants and buffets?
Have a look around the entertainment theatres and lounges.
It’s a good idea to start with the top deck and work your way down.
Every evening, you’ll receive a newsletter (sometimes called Cruise News) outlining the activities on the ship for the next day along with information about dining options, dress codes and special events. It is important for you to read this every night! You will not want to miss out on items of interest to you.
Carry a copy around with you during the day so you can check out the times for the Ice Sculpting or the daily quiz, without having to return to your cabin.
There are so many things to do aboard your ship.
You’ll have many different opportunities to eat and enjoy a conversation with your dining companions.
Or maybe be entertained by your waiting staff!
You might want to exercise some of those meals off in the ship’s gym. Most cruise ships have fully equipped gyms and some have exercise classes scheduled.
You may not be gym people but you can stroll around the promenade deck and get some exercise whilst enjoying the view.
You can get your exercise easily on the dance floor in the lounge. Almost all cruise ships have excellent nightclubs.
Put on your dancing shoes and boogie away the night (just don’t let your kids see).
Enjoy some live entertainment shows. You will have the opportunity to experience some excellent entertainment and see the many talents of the entertainment team.
On the longer cruises, the first night entertainment is often a Welcome Aboard show which gives you snippets of the shows you will see on your cruise.
Entertainment can vary from on board comedians to keep you laughing, West End/Broadway Musical shows and on some cruises even a ‘Crew Talent Night’ which is not to be missed. Be sure to take advantage of this entertainment.
Of course, there’s always the option for complete and total relaxation. Explore your ship and find a quiet spot to simply lie on the deck and catch some rays. You deserve to take it easy and what better way than just sitting back while on board your luxury liner!
When it comes to paying for things on board, most cruise lines have developed a billing system for your convenience. They will take an imprint of your credit card when you check in and set up a tab for the cruise. You will then receive a total bill at the end of your cruise.
Be sure to keep all those little receipts you sign to verify the tab at the end. This is important, as it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities that overcharges to your account might occur. Sign your receipts in a way that makes it easy to distinguish and difficult to duplicate.
If you don’t want to take the time to go through the bill and match them up with your receipts at the end of the cruise, request your bill a few times during the trip and check the receipts as you go. They will give you a copy of your bill anytime you ask, so take advantage of that and stay on top of your charges.