What to Expect on Embarkation Day

If you’ve never cruised before, or haven’t cruised in a while, embarkation day can feel a bit overwhelming.

It’s the day we look forward to. The day that starts your grand voyage! With a little preparation, we can turn an overwhelming embarkation day into a fun and even relaxing one!

what to expect on embarkation day

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Port Town Arrival

If there is one thing that can up Embarkation Day anxiety, it’s not arriving on time! I highly recommend arriving at least one day before Embarkation Day, especially if you are flying. We all know we can’t control flight delays or cancellations but one thing we can do is to build in a buffer in case we have to change flights or arrive later than planned.

Some cruise lines offer pre and post cruise packages for hotel and transfer transportation. I like to research on my own to see what a hotel and transportation will cost vs. what the cruise line is offering and then compare that to the convenience and decide from there.

Take time now to repack if you need to move anything around to prepare for embarkation. Remember, you’ll want a carry on with you since it may take a few hours for your luggage to join you at your cabin. More about that below!

Cruise Terminal


When you arrive at the terminal, there will be porters to take your bags. Be sure you have your luggage tags from the cruise line on your bags! Note: It is customary to tip the porter (usually $1+ per bag) so you may also want to be sure you have small bills with you when you arrive.

You will also want to have a carry-on bag with any valuables, medications, and other things you will need right away (I love my Belcourt bag from eBags!). Most importantly, remember to keep your boarding documents, identification / passports and anything you need for health protocols (vaccination card) with you in your carry on! Once the porter takes it, you won’t be able to get it before you board. If you want to hit the pool right away, keep your bathing suit and sunscreen in your carry on since it make take a few hours for your luggage to arrive at your cabin.


Families – If you have young kiddos, you’ll want to have your diaper bag with all of the essentials to keep with you as a carry on. If your kids are older, you could have each of them carry their own carry on or put some items for them in one bag. Consider bringing snacks, coloring/activity books and of course charge cords for electronics!

Checking In

Once you are in the terminal, you will go through security (much like the airport) and then check in. Most cruise lines now ask for you to check in online prior to the cruise so this in person check in is to verify your ID documents and check you into your cabin. They may also take your picture at this time.

Once you’ve completed your check in, you will most likely be asked to wait in an area until it is your time to board the ship. This will hopefully not take long, but I do recommend bringing some snacks and something to do just in case.


Woohoo! It’s your time to board! This is one of my favorite parts of the cruise – walking out of the terminal and onto the ship. Some cruise lines will have staff cheering or playing music, it is so exciting! This is the official start of your vacation! It can be such a fun and even emotional experience to be welcomed on to a ship your first day. Take a moment to take it all in!

You Made It

You are officially on the ship, welcome!

What do you do to make your embarkation day seamless? Let me know in the comments below.

Now get out and travel! 🚢

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