What to Do on the First Day of Your Cruise

After you’ve celebrated at the sailaway party and you’ve listened to the muster station drill, it’s time to get organized onboard so you can relax the rest of the time. Cruising enthusiasts typically have a routine on embarkation day, and we’ve gathered all the tips to help you get into the groove too. There’s no need for first-day cruising jitters. Here’s all you and your party have to do to settle in so you can enjoy the journey.

woman staring out to the ocean as the cruise ship starts its journey

“First Thing’s First” Activities

Take care of some housekeeping right away as your trip gets underway. Then, sit back and relax. You deserve to have a moment in the sun and plenty of fun.

  • Say hello to your stateroom steward, who is responsible for making your room and amenities as comfy as possible and answering any questions you may have.
  • Unpack, get into comfy clothes or a bathing suit and cover-up, put your lanyard around your neck and go treat yourself to a tropical drink.
  • Take a dip in the whirlpool and get ready to do more on your first day.

mother and her 2 daughters in their stateroom, getting ready to go to the pool on embarkation day

Make Your Bookings

When you booked your cruise, you already narrowed down your itinerary. You probably already know exactly what onboard activities are on your ship and which shore excursions you’re hoping to experience. But, there’s always one more booking or appointment that needs to be made or that slipped through the cracks as you were excitedly making plans. Your first day onboard is the time to catch up with bookings.

  • Kids clubs: Hoping for some time at the onboard casino? If so, book your babysitters and kids club times on day one. Book Camp Ocean for the 2 to 11 age crowd, Circle “C” for the 12- to 14-year-olds and Club O2 for 15- to 17-year-olds.
  • Tours: Grab your shore excursions and tours if you haven’t pre-booked. Popular shore activities fill up fast. If you’re cruising to the Dominican Republic, book the ever-delightful Ultimate Dolphin Swim with Lunch. A cruise to Hawaii includes booking the Wonders of Haleakala tour to complete your trip to Maui. Don’t forget to book the Glacier Discovery by Helicopter excursion when you cruise to Alaska. It’s a sight that you don’t want to miss!
  • Spa: Depending on the ship you’re on, you’re able to book a facial treatment or hair appointment at the onboard hair and beauty salon. Or spend some time in the onboard Medi-spa and a soak in Cloud 9 Spa’s Thalassotherapy Pool.

woman getting a kiss from a dolphin during a caribbean shore excursion

Explore the Ship

You don’t want to miss a beat while you’re cruising. That’s why taking an informal tour of your ship is well worth the time. With over two dozen ships in the Carnival fleet, you’ll want a tour every time you cruise. Some activity areas may be located in different places and possibly on different decks on various ships, but that’s half the fun of exploring your new floating home. Here are some areas you may want scope out on the Hub App:

  • Popular spots: You’ve heard great things about Cloud 9 Spa’s thermal suites. Go find them so when you’re ready to experience this unique temperature nirvana, you’ll know where to go.
  • Quiet places: Scope out the super quiet areas of your ship for those times you need some alone time, like the ship’s library and The Library Bar. And don’t forget the all-important Serenity Adult-Only Retreat where you can blissfully do absolutely nothing.
  • Kids activities: Keep organized by knowing where to bring your kids when they have activities. Find the Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time area, mini-golf and which end of the deck the poolside dive-in movies are shown.
  • Kids clubs: Don’t forget to know where to go for kids clubs, including Camp Ocean, Club O2 and Circle “C.”
  • Lido Deck: Not sure where the lido deck might be on your ship? It’s one of the most important decks because that’s likely where you’ll find the main pool. Put on your sandals and explore.

friends enjoying the cloud 9 thermal lounge during their cruise vacation on embarkation day

Explore Your Dining Options

If you’re not already a foodie, you will be by the time you disembark. You can’t help but want to explore the dozens of onboard eateries, pubs, bars and dessert places. Decide what dishes you’d like to try, and more than likely, it’s on your Carnival ship. Craving a burger? Check out Guy’s Burger Joint. Prefer the salad bar? Carnival has that, too. In the mood for craft brew? Learn the whereabouts of your ship’s Redfrog Pub. The sky’s the limit when it comes to exploring your onboard food options. Remember to do the following:

  • Reservations: Make any specialty dining reservations should you choose to eat in a restaurant. For example, if you’re hankering for a juicy steak at the onboard Steakhouse, it’s highly recommended you make your reservations, even if you do book them online. For the popular Italian eatery, Cucina Del Capitano, though reservations aren’t necessary, you may still want to make a reservation to get the best seating times.
  • Seatings: Review your reserved dinner seatings in the main dining room so you can make adjustments if necessary.
  • Restrictions: Arrange for any dietary restrictions with your head waiter or dining room host before mealtime.

chef serving delicious pieces of steak at bonsai teppanyaki onboard a carnival cruise ship

Now that your first day is behind you and you have your bearings, you’ve identified where you’ll eat, drink and be merry, plus you have your shore excursions to look forward to, you’ll be able to finally say, “I’m on vacation!” By the way, with all the flurry of the first day, don’t forget to take non-stop photos wherever you are onboard or at shore.