Today we'll find out about five important things you need to know about embarkation day, the first day you get on a cruise ship.
1. The same day you are embarking is the same day the previous cruise’s passengers are disembarking.
This turnaround day is a busy one for personnel working on the ship and off the ship. A lot has to happen in a few short hours. The ship must be cleared of every single passenger before new ones are allowed to board. It's amazing that personnel can process 2,000+ people leaving and the other 2,000+ coming all within a span of a few hours. They will also be loading supplies, offloading garbage, and bunkering fuel during that time.
|Mattresses may even be loaded on turnaround day.|
2. You must have proper documentation.
If you don’t have a passport apply for one long before the date of departure. You will be turned away without proper documentation. While some itineraries may allow a birth certificate as documentation, the best choice is a passport. Emergencies happen when traveling. If for some reason you need to depart the ship early from a foreign country, a passport is needed. Already have a passport? Double check the expiration date to see if it is valid beyond your travel date, just in case. Some cruise lines even require your passport to be valid an additional six months past your sail date. Then keep that passport and cruise documents with you during the embarkation process - don't put it them your checked luggage.
3. There will be a line to stand in somewhere.
A delay in the ship’s arrival, in customs, or in passengers not disembarking when advised can change the timing of when you can board. Bring your patience. Whether arriving earlier or later, there is usually a line.
Lines can be long. Very long. Thousands of other excited people will be checking in within the same few hours. Sometimes you will be able to check in and go straight to the ship but other times you may be directed to a waiting area to sit until being called to board. Many times there is a backup somewhere, whether at the security line or at the check-in desk or in the waiting area. While being in line behind hundreds of other people might be enough to make you decide never to take another cruise don’t let it. The process may not appear smooth and it may not be fast and it may not seem efficient but it works.
4. Your luggage will magically appear at your cabin - but maybe not until the evening.
One of the first things happening at the port when you pull up will be the handoff of your luggage to one of the numerous porters. Be sure you placed the cruise ship tags on them! (Keep the carry-on with you. Don’t hand over anything containing medications, passports, or cruise documents.) The porters will load your luggage onto a cart. The carts are then transferred into the terminal where it's scanned to check for weapons, alcohol, and other prohibited items. The bags will arrive at your cabin sometime in the afternoon or evening.
5. You must attend the muster drill.The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires all passengers attend a muster drill within 24 hours of sailing. Most ships hold these drills before the ship sails. Like practicing a fire drill in school, a muster drill is a practice for an emergency. All passengers are required to attend. No matter how busy you think you are or how young your children are. No matter whether you are in a wheelchair or walk with a cane or dislike crowds. No matter how many times you’ve worn a life jacket in your life. No matter how many cruises you’ve been on before you must attend the muster drill. Since your cruise card is scanned by muster personnel to determine attendance, you will be caught if you try and skip it. Do not even attempt to get out of the muster drill. We have had real-life emergency situations happen on cruise ships. In case of evacuation it is crucial for you to know where to go and what to do. It is in your best interest to take the muster drill seriously.
|Green signs around the ship indicate the way to muster stations.|
Then, once the muster drill is over, your cruise has officially begun!