You’re on the Ship – Now What?

You made it through your travels to port, the lines, and check in and you’re finally on the ship! But now what should you do that first day?

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Who’s Hungry

Many cruise lines will encourage you to go to the buffet when you board for lunch. It can get very crowded! Most ships have other options available. Check open times for the restaurants on board via the app or newsletter. It can often be a great day to visit the main dining room or a specialty restaurant. Many cruises also have additional free (included) dining like burger places, pizza, and pubs. These can be another great option for your Embarkation day lunch.

Speaking of dining, if you will be doing an assigned dining time vs. open dining on your cruise, now is also a good time to go to the main dining room (MDR) and confirm your timeslot and table. Most cruise lines have an early seating (around 5:30-6pm) and a late dining (7:30pm or later). If you are not happy with your table location, let them know (nicely). For most cruise lines, the days are gone where you have to sit at a large table with people you don’t know. Of course, you can still do that, but most of the time there are options for smaller tables if you prefer. This is also a great time to review any food allergies you may have to ensure it is documented.

Muster Drill

The muster drill is an important safety activity required by all guests. This has changed some as we’ve gone through Covid. Many cruise lines now offer the opportunity to watch a video before you board and then meet at your station by a certain time to confirm, while others require you to attend a more formal muster drill. You will receive instructions when you arrive onboard. Remember, this is mandatory! If you do not attend when you are supposed to, they will come find you.

Cabin Check

Make your way to your cabin and enjoy one of my favorite things about Embarkation day – the first time you open that cabin door and see your home for the cruise! As exciting as it is though, there are some practical things I recommend you do right away – from ensuring your bed is in the right configuration to getting organized, it’s all here in my Cruise Cabin To Do List (it’s free!).

Staying Connected

After boarding, take a moment to double check that your phones & electronics are on airplane mode. There is nothing worse than realizing a couple of days into your cruise that you have been raking up huge cellular bills!

You’ll also want to take time to make sure your cruise line’s app is working on your device. For most cruise lines, this is the main way to see when things are open, book spa treatments and specialty dining, and check on excursion information. The app should work on your device without paid Wi-Fi.

Speaking of Wi-Fi, if you paid for a Wi-Fi package, also take a moment to ensure it is working. If you need help, go to guest services.

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Ship Tour

Let’s be honest – cruise ships are HUGE and can be a bit overwhelming. I recommend taking time the first day to open your cruise ship map and walk from one level to the next and familiarize yourself with all of the different areas. If you are traveling with kids or teens, take everyone as a group. This can help kids feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed. This is also a good time to talk to your kids about what to do if you ever get separated or they are lost.

Kid / Teen Club Check In

If you have kiddos and think they may at any time want to participate in the kid or teen club, you’ll want to check in on Embarkation Day. Once you are onboard, the daily newsletter or your app should list open house times for the clubs. This is the time to take your kiddos to familiarize them with the club, let them look around and meet people. Depending on the cruise line, you’ll need to show your room cards or medallions so they can register your kiddo and add you as the parents/guardians.


For teens, we find it helpful to take them on the first day, register them and let them hang out and meet other teens. They may or may not spend much time in the actual teen club while you are onboard, but going to the teen club the first day or two helps them to meet others.

Sail Away

Finally, it is sail away time! Now it’s up to you. You can choose to go up to a sail away party, or perhaps you may prefer to watch from your own balcony. No matter what you choose, sail away is an exciting time. A time to take a deep breath and think about the start of your vacation you have worked so hard for!

Now go see something! 🚢

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