On the day of your cruise, are you the kind of traveler who thinks they can land at the airport and quickly grab a taxi or Uber to the ship minutes before sail away? That’s not always the most realistic approach when planning a relaxing family cruise. When vacationing with family, especially around the holiday season, many obstacles can occur on embarkation day.
Top 5 Tips To Prepare For The First Day Of Your Cruise
1. Plan to Arrive A Day Early
It may sound excessive but my recommendation is to always get to the port city a day ahead of time. Take into consideration the amount of families who are also traveling to warm weather destinations over winter break. Or maybe there is an unforeseen summer tropical storm. What if the airline misplaces your luggage? These are not catastrophic things but may need extra time to resolve before boarding a ship. So right after you decide on the perfect cruise for your luxurious family vacation, make your travel arrangements to arrive a day ahead of time and then start thinking hotels. Which brings us to number 2...
2. Sleep Close to the Ship
There are so many advantages to this. One of the best ways to relax on vacation is to not have to think about anything on vacation. Choose a hotel close to the port and you can start relaxing right away. Sample the night life and then sleep late. Enjoy a local breakfast. Then, whenever you are ready, it’s just a quick taxi or shuttle ride over to the ship. Many hotels in popular port cities offer complimentary transportation to the ship. On a typical cruise itinerary that leaves at 4:00 or 5:00 PM, you are usually allowed on the ship around noon.
3. Have Your Luggage Tags Filled out and Safely On
Often overlooked, make sure to have your luggage tags on your suitcases well before you arrive at the cruise port. Depending on the cruise line, you will either have your luggage tags sent to you or print them out ahead of time. If you print them, check out my favorite cruise luggage tag holder for extra reinforcement against rough baggage handling and weather. Luggage tags are critical to ensure your luggage makes it to your stateroom quickly and safely. Once your family arrives at the port, it can get chaotic and you don’t want to take extra time to be fumbling with your luggage tags right before the porter rolls your suitcases away.
4. Bring a small "day Bag"
Bring a Small Bag With Extra Clothes and Toiletries. If you haven't cruised before, you should know that once you hand over your luggage, you honestly don't know when you'll see it again. First, it will need to be sorted and then loaded on the ship. Then at some point during the first day, it will magically arrive at your stateroom. In the meantime, you may want to head to the decks outside and take a swim, or grab a bite to eat. So be prepared and have a stash of clean, dry clothes and cosmetics to freshen up. The public restrooms are all open before departure and they are typically very spacious.
Things you'll want to carry with you when walking on the cruise ship:
Virtual Hint: If you are planning on taking a quick swim on the first day, pack a large plastic zipper bag to store your wet clothes so you can change back before heading off to find your stateroom. Don't forget to bring enough for the whole family!
5. Check your documentation
Always the Most Recommended Tip for Cruisers! Don’t leave home without your boarding documentation, passport and photo identification. Check (and double check!) the cruise website for what to bring prior to arrival. Without the proper documentation, you won’t be able to board the ship.
Sounds silly, but don't forget a pen! You'll have a number of forms to fill out such as credit card authorization for on board charges and your health declaration form.
PASSPORT TRAVEL TIP: At least three months before you cruise, take a look to see that everyone’s passport hasn’t expired or won't be expiring less than 6 months after your sailing. More and more it is suggested, and often required, that passports don’t expire within that time frame. The thought is that in the case of an emergency, you may be prevented from leaving when planned. So it’s a good thing to keep in mind.
Enjoy! That feeling of leaving the check-in area and paperwork behind, then walking up the gangway towards the welcoming ship knowing that your luxurious and relaxing family vacation is really about to begin.
My Virtual Vacations Blog
About the Author
Thanks for cruising by! Along with creating this website and blog, I work in an office full-time and as a mom to two energetic teenage boys. With our family's busy work and school schedule, we look forward to traveling during holidays. Although it seems that our family can never agree on anything, we do when it comes to vacations. We typically travel on cruises or stay at luxury hotels. We enjoy upscale dining, beautiful decor, excellent service, and spacious accommodations. However, we still need family friendly and comfortable. When we are not traveling, I enjoy dining out locally, as well as cooking and baking in my own kitchen.
Virtually escape and start planning your next luxurious cruise vacation on land or sea with My Virtual Vacations. Contact me for any specific questions or recommendations. And don't forget to keep checking back for the latest blog posts and information. There are always more family vacations in our future!
You'll also find me on Cruise Critic boards as SunnyAJ. Let's connect!
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Our beautiful photographs are creatively captured by my talented freelance husband/photographer located in Baltimore, MD. Click here to explore more of his work.
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There is no stopping us! Even though travel has come to a halt, I'm rescheduling, planning, and preparing for the next phase of cruise and travel. Plus, I'm working on my website to add even more cruise and travel resources.
Meanwhile, we are anxiously awaiting our cruise to the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) islands with Celebrity Cruises over the holidays in 2021. As many of you, this is our 3rd reschedule and really hoping it's the last!
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