So you've booked your cruise and packed your bags. The big day has finally arrived. Now what? Here, we walk you through what to expect on the first day of the cruise:
It will take a while for you to get your bags.
You'll drop your bags off with luggage handlers who will deliver them to your cabin … eventually. Hang onto toiletries, medications, a swimsuit, and a change of clothes for dinner (just in case).
You can board even if your cabin isn't ready.
The previous cruise’s passengers will have disembarked in the morning, and housekeeping will be furiously prepping cabins for the new guests. In the meantime, most ships invite you on board to enjoy a buffet lunch.
Your passport may be taken.
One of the nice things about cruising is that the ship will pre-clear you with customs if you're visiting different countries. But that means they may need to keep your passport. Make a copy of the main page before leaving home in case of an emergency.
Your picture will be snapped.
Sure, you may be frazzled after a long day at the airport. But be camera-ready: Your photo will be taken for identification.
You'll need to register a credit card.
The ship will require you to have a payment option on record for any onboard charges. If you don't have a credit card, you can leave a cash deposit, typically several hundred dollars.
You'll get lost.
Many ships are sprawling spaces, and you'll no doubt get turned around. You can usually find deck plans near the elevators.
There will be a mandatory lifeboat drill.
You'll be expected to show up at your lifeboat assembly station (usually listed on your cruise card) when the drill is announced. Take the exercise seriously because attendance is called, and you'll be relentlessly tracked down if you're missing.
You'll get a daily bulletin.
Usually delivered while you're at dinner the first night, these handy resources list meal and activity times for the following day.