You started your packing list weeks ago and finally finished putting everything into the suitcase last night. The drive to the port has been a long one. You’ve waited all morning and stood in line with the masses to board your ship.
Your cruise vacation has begun and the next week will be full of sand and sun. The boarding process went smoothly and you find yourself standing in the large atrium, full of excited vacationers like yourself.
Many ships are large and overwhelming when you initially enter the lobby. The glass elevators and elegant spaces will fill your senses with excitement and wonder. Do you immediately begin sightseeing or should you find a place for your luggage?
There are a million things you could do once you set foot on the ship, but where should you start this amazing journey?
We’ve narrowed the list down to five essential spots to visit within your first few hours on the ship. Keep reading to maximize your time on embarkation day.
If your cabin is ready, by all means make this your first stop! After lugging around your carry-on bags, you’ll be ready for a rest.
Before you board the ship, research the location of your cabin. If you do this, it will be smooth sailing once you are in the lobby. Make sure you find the deck that your cabin is on and the room number. Follow the posted directions for easy access to your cabin.
Once you arrive, get to know your “home away from home” for the next few days. Cruise lines are notorious for having very limited space in their cabins. Utilize your space wisely to ensure optimal comfort for your stay. Go ahead and unpack anything you may have in your carry-on. The rest of your bags should be delivered to your cabin later on.
Pro Tip: Familiarize yourself with the terms Port, Starboard, Forward and Aft before cruising. This will come in handy throughout the duration of your cruise.
The Buffet (or any available eatery!)
By now, you’ve probably worked up quite the appetite. Make your way to the buffet or any of the available dining options. If you are unsure of the location, check the daily schedule or the cruise lines’ app on your mobile device. More adventurous cruisers may choose to walk towards the lido deck and just follow the crowd. Don’t worry–there will be plenty of cruise ship staff around to guide you in the right direction.
The buffet is usually the most popular choice for lunch. It’s the easiest option, with several choices to choose from. Even picky eaters can usually find something on the lunch buffets. Some cruise lines offer a daily theme, such as Italian, Caribbean, and American.
A few cruise lines, such as Carnival, offer specialty options that are also included in your cruise fare. Guy’s Burgers is tremendously popular and is the brainchild of celebrity chef, Guy Fieri. His partnership with Carnival has been a great success over the years, offering cruisers a premium burger on deck. Carnival also offers Blue Iguana Cantina. This wildly popular option gives vacationers the option of made-to-order burritos and tacos, with an included Salsa Bar.
Shore Excursion Desk
If you have not pre-booked your shore excursions, your next stop should take you to the Shore Excursion Desk. This desk is usually located in the lobby and not too far from the Purser’s Desk.
Popular shore excursions tend to sell out early on. If you have an excursion that you are excited about, order your tickets as soon as you can. This will ensure the best selection and better chances of reserving the excursion of your choosing.
If you need help choosing an excursion, or would simply like more information, visit the Shore Excursion Desk. The staff can give recommendations and additional facts about the port that you will be visiting.
There will be various options to choose from when picking your shore excursions. Some people enjoy sight-seeing tours, while others prefer more active options like snorkeling or zip-lining. Whatever you decide to choose, visit the Shore Excursion Desk as soon as you can.
Pro Tip: You don’t have to purchase a shore excursion. You can make your own plans while in port. In addition, you may want to consider purchasing shore excursions through a private company such as Shore Excursioneer.
If you are traveling with kids, consider stopping by the kids club before returning to your cabin. These locations may not be open yet, but it’s a great idea to find the location of where you will take your child later on.
Major cruise lines offer some amazing kids clubs, with daily activities to keep kids occupied and busy. These clubs are usually divided by age group, each having its own dedicated space on the ship. Most cruise lines allow children ages 3-17 to participate. The kids clubs are run by trained staff and parents can feel good about letting their child participate in their own vacation fun. All staff members go through a training process similar to what daycare employees would.
Royal Caribbean offers Adventure Ocean and Norwegian has Splash Academy and Entourage. Carnival’s Camp Carnival is a popular option, too. Each program has its own perks and advantages but all are sure to keep your kids occupied.
Some cruise lines have a parents meeting towards the beginning of your cruise. Be sure to attend this in order to gain valuable information that will benefit you and your child.
Always a popular option throughout your cruise, the bar will be ready to serve you as soon as you board. More than likely, you will see an army of bartenders and servers advertising the daily special.
If you did not purchase a beverage package before you boarded the ship, be sure to do that on your first day. Most bars should be able to assist in enrollment and answering any questions that you may have. Each cruise line has different rules and packages that can be purchased, usually through the 2nd day of the cruise.
Carnival Cruise Lines offers a Bottomless Bubbles Package and a Cheers Package. The Bottomless Bubbles gives guests unlimited sodas, coffees, energy drinks and other items. This option tends to be popular with kids, since they can order an unlimited amount of Shirley Temples. The Cheers Package allows guests to purchase a particular amount of alcoholic drinks per day, rather than having to buy them a la carte.
Where do you plan to make your first stop on your next cruise? Do you always check the status of your room and unpack a few things first? Maybe you want to beat the crowd and go directly to the Lido Deck for a burger and fries. It doesn’t matter what you decide to do first, as long as you are having fun and making memories.
We hope our suggestions will assist in making your cruise go as smoothly as possible. Remembering a few key locations to visit first can make all the difference in the world.
Have a wonderful trip and Bon Voyage!