30 Do’s and Don’ts For Cruise Embarkation Day

cruise embarkation day do'd and don'ts

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The day has finally come—it’s embarkation day! However, before you can fully immerse yourself in the fun, there are a few essential tasks that you’ll want to complete.

Whether you’re a new or experienced cruiser, we all share the same embarkation day tasks. Knowing what to do and what not to do on embarkation day can make or break your cruise.

With that being said, here are 15 do’s and 15 don’ts for cruise embarkation day.

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15 Do’s for Cruise Embarkation Day

1. Do Arrive Early to the Cruise Port

Port Canaveral Cruise Port

Arriving at the cruise port early is a smart move to avoid long lines, ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable embarkation day. Once you’ve checked in and gone through security, you will either board the cruise ship right away or you will sit down until they are ready to start the boarding process.

By arriving at the cruise port early, the embarkation process will be smooth, and you’ll be able to make the most out of the first day of your cruise vacation.

2. Do Label Your Luggage

Attach the cruise line’s provided luggage tags to all your bags. This is the best way to ensure your luggage is delivered to your cabin on embarkation day.

Tip: Use clear luggage tag holders to ensure that your printed paper tags don’t fall off or get wet.

These luggage tag holders are secure and are highly rated on Amazon.

Cruise Luggage Tag Holders by Cruise Line:

3. Do Pack a Carry-On Bag

Preparing a carry-on bag for the first day of your cruise is a good idea. It’s essential to pack medications, important documents, and valuables in your carry-on bag.

This guarantees immediate access to these important items in the case of an emergency.

Additionally, if you plan on spending time by the pool, you’ll want to pack a bathing suit and flip-flops. I always bring an extra outfit in case my luggage gets lost.

Typically, your bags will arrive at your stateroom a few hours after you board the cruise ship.

4. Do Explore the Cruise Ship

Icon of the Seas

Once you’ve finished the embarkation process, take some time to explore the cruise ship. The first day of the cruise is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with the cruise ship’s layout.

It’s a good idea to find the main dining room, buffet, and lido deck, as these are central areas where you’ll spend most of your time throughout your cruise vacation.

5. Do Book Shore Excursions Early

If you haven’t booked any excursions in advance, you’ll want to book your excursions once you’ve gotten onto the cruise ship. Either visit the shore excursions desk or use the cruise line’s app to book your excursions right away as the most popular ones will sell out fast.

6. Do Sign Up For Shows if Required

Certain cruise lines may require you to sign up for shows, as there is a capacity limit. If you want to see specific shows, you’ll want to book them as soon as you board your cruise ship.

The shows can fill up quickly, and by booking them right away, you’ll have a choice over the time and day you see them.

7. Do Make Dining Reservations

Sun Princess main dining room

If you want an enhanced dining experience, you’ll want to make specialty dining reservations immediately, as popular dining times fill quickly. Specialty dining is always a great experience, and it’s definitely worth the extra cost!

8. Do Unpack Once Your Cabin is Available

When my bags are delivered to my cabin, I always unpack my evening outfit right away. Then I go back to enjoying the embarkation day festivities, and I finish unpacking before dinner.

This way, my outfit is ready and stays wrinkle-free for the evening, and I can make the most of the first day of the cruise.

9. Do Explore Dining Options

When you get on the cruise ship, explore the different dining venues. Instead of rushing to the buffet, check out the casual dining options and see if the main dining room is open.

The buffet is always busy on embarkation day, so try an alternative dining option instead of waiting in line.

10. Do Introduce Yourself to Your Room Attendant

Once your stateroom is ready, take the time to introduce yourself to the room attendant. They’re always very friendly and more than happy to fulfill any requests you may have.

As someone who hangs a lot of clothing, I always ask for extra hangers!

11. Do Download the Cruise Line’s App

Downloading the cruise line app is an essential part of embarkation day. On most cruise lines, you’ll need to use the cruise line mobile app to connect to the Wi-Fi, view daily activities, and complete the safety drill.

It’s a good idea to download the app before going to the cruise port, as you may have trouble getting phone service once you’ve arrived.

12. Do Grab a drink

Virgin Voyages drinks

With so much going on during the boarding process, remember to grab a drink and relax. Sure, there’s a lot to do on the first day of your cruise, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sit back and unwind for a bit.

I always start my cruise vacation with an embarkation day mimosa. Having this mimosa signifies that my cruise vacation has just begun!

13. Sign Your Kids Up for the Kid’s Club

If you’re traveling with children or teenagers, you should sign them up for the youth program. The Kids and Teens Club is a fun, safe, and supervised place to leave your children throughout the cruise.

Signing your kids up for the kids club on the first day is a good idea. The youth program activities start on the first night, and often, kids create friendships on the first day.

By signing them up right away, you’re ensuring they don’t miss out on these early bonding opportunities. If you wait until the second day of the cruise, the other kids may have already made friendships, and it will be difficult for your child to meet other kids.

14. Do Take Advantage of Welcome Aboard Offers

When you board the cruise ship, look for any “Welcome Aboard” offers or discounts. You may find great deals on specialty dining, the spa, or the shops!

Related: 11 Best Duty-Free Shopping Deals on a Cruise Ship

15. Do Attend the Sail Away Party

Holland America cruise ship sailing into sunset

The sailaway party is your cruise’s first big event, and you won’t want to miss it. This party will have music, drinking, and dancing, and it’s tons of fun.

Watching the land disappear as you sail into the open ocean is an experience you will only find on a cruise ship. Grab a cocktail, dance to some music, and toast to the start of your amazing cruise vacation.

15 Don’ts for Embarkation Day

15. Don’t Fly in The Day of Your Cruise

airplane flight

The biggest mistake you can make on embarkation day is flying in on the same day as your cruise. If your flight gets delayed, there’s a good chance you will miss the cruise ship (and the cruise won’t wait for you!)

Furthermore, rushing from the airport to the cruise port is stressful.

Instead, fly in the day before your cruise and stay at a hotel near the cruise port. This way, you can enjoy a stress-free embarkation day.

16. Don’t Overpack Your Carry-On Luggage

Don’t get me wrong, packing a carry-on bag is important! However, you may have to carry your carry-on bag around the cruise ship for a few hours, so you don’t want to overpack it.

When you’re packing your carry-on bag, only pack the essentials. This way, it will be easy to bring around the cruise ship.

17. Don’t Forget to Tip the Porter

When dropping off your luggage at the cruise port, don’t forget to tip the porter. Not only is it proper cruise etiquette to tip the porter, but they will also take better care of your bags.

While there’s no standard amount, most cruisers will tip between $2 and $5 per bag.

18. Don’t Forget to Charge Your Phone

Remember to charge your phone for the first day of the cruise! You’ll need your phone to take pictures, message your family and friends, and use the cruise line’s mobile app.

If your phone dies, you’ll have to wait to charge it when your stateroom is ready. So, charging your phone before you get on the cruise ship is best.

19. Don’t Pack Prohibited Items

things not to do in cruise cabin - prohibited items

Attempting to bring prohibited items onto a cruise ship is a serious matter. If you are found with such items, you risk being denied boarding, facing legal repercussions, and even being barred from future cruises with the line.

It’s a good idea to review the cruise line’s list of prohibited items before boarding to ensure that you follow the proper guidelines.

20. Don’t Neglect the Safety Drill

You’re not going to want to neglect the safety drill. In fact, doing your safety drill right away is the best way to start your cruise vacation on the right foot.

You’ll begin the safety drill by watching safety videos on your phone, then check in at your muster station. The crew members will give you a demonstration of how to use the life jackets and what to do in the case of an emergency. Once that is done, they will scan your cruise card, and you’re good to go!

The muster drill process takes 15 minutes, and once it’s complete, you can truly begin your cruise vacation.

21. Don’t Leave Valuables in Checked Luggage

Although it’s unlikely, your luggage can get lost! Err on the side of caution and refrain from leaving valuables, important documents, and medication in your checked luggage.

22. Don’t Forget to Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode

A common embarkation day mistake that new cruisers often make is forgetting to put their phone on airplane mode. Once you’ve boarded the cruise ship, turn your phone onto airplane mode and connect to the cruise ship’s Wi-Fi.

If you forget to put your cell phone on airplane mode, your cellphone provider will charge you for roaming. If you’re looking to stay in touch with your family and friends while you’re at sea, consider purchasing the Wi-Fi package.

23. Don’t Go to Your Cabin Right Away

MSC cruise balcony cabin Fantastica

On embarkation day, chances are that your cabin won’t be ready right away. Instead of going straight to your cabin, wait for the ship’s announcement that cabins are ready.

Going to your cabin before it’s ready can distract your room attendant, which is not appreciated.

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24. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

If you’re new to cruising or have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask. Whether you ask a crew member or cruise passenger, someone will always happily answer your questions.

It’s normal to have questions on embarkation day. Whether you’re having trouble connecting to the Wi-Fi, looking for the buffet, or having another question, don’t be afraid to ask!

25. Don’t Skip Lunch

With so much going on during embarkation day, it can be easy to forget about eating lunch. However, taking the time and grabbing a bite to eat is important.

Whether you go to the buffet, main dining room, or a casual dining venue, you’ll be happy you ate. Furthermore, certain dining venues close in the late afternoon to prepare for dinner, so you will want to eat before they close.

26. Don’t Go to Guest Service Right Away – Unless it’s Necessary

Guest services always have a huge lineup on the first day, so avoid going unless it’s a necessity. Typically, the guest service lineup quiets in the evening, late at night or by the second day.

If you have a smaller issue, wait until guest services are quieter. This way, you won’t be stuck waiting in a long line and can fully enjoy embarkation day.

27. Don’t Forget to Stay Hydrated

If you’re on a Caribbean cruise, you’ll want to stay hydrated! The lido deck can get very hot, so drinking water is necessary.

If you’re looking for water, you can find it at the bars and water stations. Furthermore, waiters will take drink orders, so you can order water bottles if you have the drink package.

28. Don’t Assume Drinks Are Free

On the first day of your cruise, you may see servers walking around with a tray of drinks and a big smile. Although you may think these drinks are complimentary, often they cost extra. Instead of assuming the drinks are free, it’s a good idea to ask.

Furthermore, not all drinks are included if you have the drink package. Beverage packages vary from cruise line to cruise line, so it’s important to ask what drinks are included and what drinks are not.

29. Don’t Forget to Stop By the Fitness Center

Oasis of the seas Fitness Center

You’ll want to stop by the fitness center if you’re into working out and staying active. You can check out the equipment, meet the staff, and learn about the complimentary fitness classes.

As someone who enjoys staying active while on a cruise, I always check out the fitness center on the first day.

30. Don’t Overindulge Right Away

A big mistake some cruisers make on embarkation day is overindulging immediately. Although cruises are fun and exciting, overindulging in alcohol consumption can ruin your embarkation day or the following days.

Whether on a four-day cruise, a week-long cruise, or a longer vacation, it’s important to remember to pace yourself throughout the whole trip.

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Final Thoughts on Do’s and Don’ts for Cruise Embarkation Day

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Embarkation Day is exciting and marks the start of an amazing cruise adventure. By following the key dos and avoiding the don’ts, you can guarantee a smooth and enjoyable start to your cruise vacation.

Happy Cruising!


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Author Bio: Ethan Schattauer has been cruising with his family since he was four years old and has been on more than 30 cruises. As a frequent traveler, Ethan shares his unique perspective on what cruising is like from a young person’s perspective. Ethan also writes about men’s fashion, travel and college advice on the website WhatToWearMen.com.


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