You’ve gathered the family, made the long trip to the port and maybe even spent the night before exploring the local area and winding down with a nice meal. Now, it’s finally time for embarkation and for your holiday to begin. With security cleared and your luggage whisked away, you take those exciting first steps aboard the ship that will be your home for the next week or even two. But what now? Here are our tips for making the most of your first day on board.
Shun the ship tours
While official ship tours are informative, there’s something much more exciting about going it alone. Sometimes it’s when you’re a little lost that you come across the best places, so find your bearings and wander at your own pace.
Scope out speciality spots
While many hungry passengers head to the buffet, those in the know will scope out the speciality spots and often scoop a bargain at the same time. Many cruise lines offer discounts or little extras for those who dine in speciality restaurants on embarkation day and the restaurants are often considerably quieter than other venues on board, giving you some time to grab a glass of wine and start your holiday of right with some incredible food.
While you’re there, make any reservations for the coming days too as speciality restaurants often book up quickly.
Muster up some energy
While it may not be the most exciting way to spend 20 minutes of your first few hours aboard, the muster drill is a mandatory requirement. Cruise lines don’t take kindly to people who fail to muster up the energy to attend the muster drill, so turn up and listen up.
If you’re sailing from the UK, take five minutes before departure from port to check your mobile data roaming package is arranged and any last minute bits are taken care of with the kennels/cattery/house sitter/etc. Once you’re at sea you’ll spend a lot more to make those important phone calls so get them out of the way now and forget about them.
Hit the pool
Pools and hot tubs are usually all but empty on embarkation day, as people use the time to settle into their cabins and see the ship. Make the most of it by packing your swimwear in your hand luggage, that way you won’t have to wait for your luggage to arrive in your cabin.
Hitting the pool may not seem so appealing when sailing from a UK port on a cold December day but soaking your shoulders in a red hot Jacuzzi is a treat in any weather.
Slip into something more comfortable
If you’ve spent hours on a flight, or on a bus or train to the port, chances are you’ll feel less than your best when you finally get on the ship. Plan ahead and pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage, along with bits you need to freshen up such as face wipes and toiletries. This way, even if there is a delay in your luggage arriving at your cabin, you can get changed and spend the time exploring the ship in comfort.
Get rid of the kids
Okay not strictly speaking, but if you’re planning on letting the kids head to the kid’s clubs once the ship is at sea, you will need to register them in advance. Head there as a family and see what is on offer. Chances are the kids won’t want to leave once they’ve seen the facilities and that isn’t a problem; most kid’s clubs are open on embarkation day.
Snoop around the spa
Even if you’re not a fan of pricey treatments, a couple of lazy hours in the spa is enough to leave anyone feeling rejuvenated. Many spas don’t open on embarkation day, other than for tours, so head down and have a look around. Treat yourself to a treatment or just book a few hours in the spa itself. Don’t forget to reserve your private cabana at the deck-top retreat too if your ship has one; these are often surprisingly good value for money and as a result book up quickly.
Just chill out!
When all is said and done, you’re on holiday and you’ll be on the ship for days to come. While it’s lovely to see what is on offer, it’s even better to take off your watch, turn off your phone and just slip straight into holiday mode. Head to the Sun Deck, with a celebratory cocktail in one hand and a burger from the poolside grill in the other, and raise a toast; here’s to holidays!