13 Big Cruise Embarkation Day Mistakes Cruisers Must Avoid

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Embarkation day is both exciting and overwhelming, which can lead to some potential mistakes. New cruisers are especially prone to making some of these embarkation day mistakes on their first cruise.

Being organized and prepared for embarkation day, will help you start your cruise with ease. There are also some things that you’ll want to do in the first few hours after embarking.

In this post I share some common embarkation day mistakes to avoid, as well as some cruise tips and tricks along the way.

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13 Big Embarkation Day Mistakes

1. Not Doing the Muster Drill / Safety Check In

A big mistake that many cruisers make on embarkation day, is not attending their muster drill as soon as possible. All cruise passengers are required to complete their muster drill & safety check in before sailaway.

Doing your safety drill check in takes just a few minutes, so it’s better to get it done as soon as you get on the cruise ship.

In addition to checking in at your muster station, most cruise lines require passengers to to watch a short safety video on the cruise line app or on your stateroom TV. In total, this whole process takes about 10-15 minutes.

Unfortunately, some cruisers procrastinate on this, leading the Captain or Cruise Director to issue reminders over the ship’s intercom.

Tip: If you have to watch the safety video in your cabin, turn on the video while you are putting some of your belongings away. If you can watch the video from your phone, consider watching it before you board or during lunch.

2. Not Embarking As Early As Possible


While there’s some debate as to whether it’s better to have an early or late check-in time on embarkation day, arriving early will give you more time to enjoy the first day of your cruise.

Some cruisers come a bit later to avoid lines. However, you will probably have to wait in line, even if you try to board at a later time.

Typically, the boarding process takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the cruise line and embarkation port. However, if there are delays, this will back everything up.

Boarding as early as possible will allow you time to have lunch, grab a drink and explore the ship at a more leisurely pace.

Tip: If you’re one of the first people on the cruise, head up to the lido deck, grab a chair, grab a drink, and enjoy it while the cruise ship is still quiet!

3. Not Doing A Cabin Check

cruise ship balcony-cabin

One of the first things you should do on embarkation day, is a quick cabin check as soon as your stateroom is ready. You’ll want to drop off your carry on luggage and make sure that everything in the cabin is in working order.

Not Taking Cabin Photos & Videos

Don’t forget to take some photos and videos of your cabin on embarkation day! Whether it’s for social media or for your own photo albums and memories, now is the time.

Trust me, your cabin will never look as clean and tidy during the rest of your cruise, as it does on embarkation day.

Related: 12 Things to Do as Soon as You Get Into Your Cruise Cabin

4. Not Bringing an Embarkation Day Bag

carry on bags

A common first time cruiser mistake is not bringing a carry-on bag for embarkation day. Even if you have a checked luggage, you’ll want a backpack or carry on suitcase for boarding day.

It will take several hours for your luggage to be delivered to your cabin. It’s best to board your cruise with your valuables and any expensive electronics, as well as medication and any other first day essentials.

Having a swimsuit and a change of clothes for dinner will take the stress out of waiting for your luggage to arrive.

Tip: Keep in mind is that your cabin may not be ready for the first hour of your cruise. It’s important to not overpack and bring too much with you, as it can make getting around the ship much harder on your first day of your cruise.

5. Not Meet Your Cabin Attendant

On embarkation day, it’s a mistake to not meet your cabin steward. When you meet your cabin attendant, they will take a few minutes to introduce themselves and ask you if you have any special requests.

If you do have any special requests, don’t be shy! You can ask your cabin attendant for extra hangers, towels and even to fill your ice bucket daily.

One thing to remember, is that embarkation day is a very busy day for your cabin attendants. It’s important to be patient as they are going to be extremely busy.

6. Not Downloading the Cruise Line App Before You Board

phone app

One mistake that many cruisers make, is not downloading the cruise line’s app before they board. Once onboard, it can be difficult to download the app (WiFi can be slow).

It’s best to download the App at home or at the hotel, before embarkation day. The cruise line app will give you access to the daily planner, dinner menues and excursions.

Don’t stress if the cruise line app is glitchy before boarding the cruise. In most cases, once you get on the cruise ship and are connected to the cruise ship’s Wifi, the app should work properly.

If you’re still having trouble with the app, ask a crew member as they will be able to assist.

7. Not Putting Your Phone in Airplane Mode

It’s no secret that cruise ship Wifi can be confusing. However, it’s a mistake to not put your phone in airplane mode before sailaway.

When you’re in airplane mode, you will still be able to use the cruise ship wifi. If you forget to put your phone on airplane mode, you can get charged very expensive roaming fees by your phone provider.

8. Not Checking Out Boarding Lunch Options


Many cruise passengers head straight to the cruise ship buffet after embarking. However, this is often one of the busiest places on the cruise ship, and it can even be hard to find a table to sit.

Instead, it’s best to find out what other restaurants are open for lunch on embarkation day. This might include the main dining room, casual restaurants and even specialty restaurants (for a reduced price).

While everyone is waiting in line at the buffet and having trouble finding tables, you will be eating in a nice casual restaurant or in the main dining room.

9. Not Making Required Reservations

On some cruise ships, you’ll have to make reservations for some of the big shows and restaurants. If that’s the case, you’ll want to do this on your cruise planner or onboard as soon as you board the cruise ship.

10. Expecting Perfect Dining the First Night

main dining room holland america cruise

When it comes to the main dining room, it’s important not to expect perfection on the first night of the cruise. The first night is often a bit hectic, especially for open or anytime dining.

An alternative for first night of your cruise is to skip the main dining room and try out a speciality restaurant. A speciality restaurant will be less crowded and usually have better service.

Related: 13 Cruise Main Dining Room Tips All Cruisers Need to Know

11. Not Registering Your Kids For The Kids Club

If you’re cruising with kids and teenagers, it’s important to visit and sign up for the kid’s club on the first day. On embarkation day, there will be an “open house”, where you can visit the kid’s club, meet the staff and register your children.

Not registering your children for the kid’s camp on the first day is a huge mistake. The first day in the kid’s club is a chance for the children to introduce themselves and make friends.

By the second day, most of the kids know each other and friend groups begin to form. While it’s not impossible, it can be hard for kid’s who only start to go to the kid’s club later during the cruise.

12. Going to Guest Services

Unless you really have to, you are going to want to avoid guest services on boarding day. The truth is, guest services is going to have a huge line on embarkation day.

If you have an issue that needs solving, try going to guest services at night or early in the morning on day 2. This way, you won’t be stuck waiting in a line for hours on the first day of your cruise.

Don’t Ask For a Free Upgrade (on a full ship)

If you’re on a full sailing during a busy time, don’t bother going to guest services to ask for a free upgrade. It simply won’t be available.

Instead, try and bid for a cabin upgrade before your cruise.

13: Not Taking in Sailaway


On a cruise, Sailaway is a pretty special time. Sailaway is the moment where your cruise vacation truly starts.

So whether you go to the sailaway party or if you enjoy sailaway from your balcony, take a few minutes to savor the fact that your cruise vacation has really begun. Leave your everyday stresses and worries on the shore.

Bonus: Not Unpacking

Don’t live out of your suitcase! One of the benefits of cruising, is that you can visit multiple destinations and unpack only once. When you unpack, you will truly feel at home in your cruise cabin.

So hang up your dresses and tops, and put your packing cubes and other items on the shelves and drawers.

Tip: If you do have any items that need pressing, it’s a good idea to send them on embarkation day.

Video: Embarkation Day Mistakes

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Final Thoughts on 13 Big Embarkation Day Mistakes Not to Make on a Cruise

Well there it is, everything you need to know about embarkation day mistakes!

Embarkation day is a day that should be enjoyed to the fullest! By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure that you will have an amazing boarding day, and a great start to your cruise vacation.

Have you made any of these embarkation day mistakes? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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