Whether you plan to travel to The Bahamas or cruise to the Caribbean for some fun in the sun, there’s nothing more exciting than embarkation day on a Carnival cruise. Arriving at the port to see your ship for the first time in all its glory never gets old and from the moment you walk up the gangway and step aboard, you can relax in style knowing you’ll be well cared for throughout your journey.
If you’ve never taken a cruise, embarkation day may loom on the horizon as a point of confusion. You know you’ll love that trip to Mexico or sunny San Juan, but your first day on a cruise can feel a bit overwhelming if you’re not sure what to expect.
Don’t worry! Try these cruise tips and helpful do’s and don’ts to make sure your trip gets off to a great start. Here’s everything you should know about embarkation day:
1. Check-In Online the Day Before
The day prior to your departure, you will need to check-in online. Print your boarding pass, luggage tags and choose an Arrival Appointment time. This is earlier than your Sailing Departure time to allow for you to check your bags and present your documents before boarding. Staggered Arrival Appointments make for a calmer, less crowded experience for everyone.
2. Don’t Arrive Late
Give yourself extra time to navigate an unfamiliar departure city and account for unexpected traffic jams so that you arrive promptly at your scheduled time. This will reduce the amount of time you spend in line and keep you from getting stressed. It will also ensure that you can check your bags and explore the ship at your leisure.
3. Have All Necessary Documents on Hand
When you board a cruise ship for the first time, you’ll find that it’s a little like going to the airport. You’ll need to be prepared with the following paperwork in your hand — not in your checked luggage:
- Boarding pass (printed or emailed to your cell phone)
- Photo ID
- Passport with necessary visas and/or other citizenship documents
- Completed health questionnaire
Keep these items in your purse or a small carry-on bag so they are easily accessible for a smooth boarding process.
4. Check Your Bags with a Porter
If you don’t want to carry your own luggage around the ship decks while you wait for your stateroom, you definitely want to check your bags with a porter. You’ll only be able to take advantage of this service two hours before departure so remember to arrive early and be sure to attach Carnival’s personalized luggage tags to streamline the process.
5. Don’t Forget to Pack a Small Carry-on Bag
If you have important medication or valuables, it’s best to keep them with you instead of in your checked luggage. Consider carrying a small bag with you to hold necessary toiletries and a change of clothes so you can make yourself comfortable while you wait for your luggage to arrive at your stateroom.
6. Stay Hydrated
You’ll be busy with lots of activities during your cruise, but don’t forget to drink! Day One is the perfect time to sign up for convenient drink packages so you never have to worry about paying for a drink during your trip. Choose the Bottomless Bubbles package for unlimited soft drinks, or the Cheers! package for adult beverages throughout your cruise.
7. Don’t Forget Lunch
Many first-time cruisers don’t realize that they won’t be able to go directly to their staterooms upon boarding. Pass the time while you wait for your room to be ready and for the ship to set sail by enjoying lunch on the Lido Deck of the ship. This is a great way to make sure you aren’t starving by dinner time!
8. Take Lots of Photos
The first day aboard ship is the perfect time to explore your surroundings and get great photos that capture all your embarkation day excitement. You can also snap pics to remind you of things you’d like to do aboard ship, whether it’s a particular lounge, shop or show.
9. Pay Attention to the Safety Drill
All passengers are required to attend the safety drill and muster at their assigned stations during the beginning of the cruise. Though the odds of needing to evacuate the ship are incredibly low, this is crucial safety information, so keep your eyes and ears on your assigned crew member during this important meeting.
10. Sign Up for Activities
Whether it’s getting the kids enrolled in their special adventures or making sure you get the shore excursions or massage you’ve had your eye on, embarkation day is the perfect time to take care of any loose ends and planning that will allow you to get the most out of your voyage.
11. Try a Specialty Restaurant
Your first night at sea may be the best time to “eat out” and enjoy a meal at one of the special restaurants aboard ship. These popular spots are likely to less crowded on the first evening, and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the main dining room traditions throughout your cruise.
12. Don’t Miss the Sail Away
Leaving the pier and sailing out to sea is one of the true joys of cruising, so don’t get caught below deck when it’s time to sail away. Make sure you’re on deck to wave goodbye — even to strangers! — and watch the land slip away below the horizon. Now your vacation can begin!
Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.