Cruise Tips8 Mistakes Too Many Cruisers Make on Disembarkation Day

8 Mistakes Too Many Cruisers Make on Disembarkation Day

The dreaded last day of a cruise is one that always comes too soon.  Even after 40+ cruises the final day of a cruise still sneaks up on me.

Our free cruise newsletter offers the latest cruise news and deals: Sign Up

You get one last breakfast, and then it’s time to debark the vessel. 

But over and over again I see the same mistakes being made on this bustling day.

disembarkation day mistakes cruisers make
Disembarkation day is a busy and hectic day on a cruise ship. Make sure you avoid these common mistakes to ensure a smooth process. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Disembarkation day is a busy day for a cruise ship and its crew.  All the current passengers need to get off the ship, and all the new ones need to get on it.

If we all want to avoid over-crowded elevators full of gigantic suitcases and a mad rush of chaos, here are a few mistakes we can avoid during the last few moments on a cruise ship.

1. Missing the Luggage Tag Deadline

Even with the recent addition of “Digital Debark” from Carnival and similar app-based solutions for baggage on disembarkation day, you don’t want to miss the cut-off point for your luggage tags.

You will get constant reminders about selecting a time you’d wish to get off the ship and how many luggage tags you will need if using the ship’s luggage service.  Still, you’d be surprised how many last-minute scramblers there are on every cruise trying to carry a “boat load” of bags and dragging them down the halls.

2. Not Carrying a Carry-on Bag

This mistake also applies to embarkation day– when you’re getting on the ship — as well.  Even if you are allowing the cruise ship to transport your bags on and off the ship, you should always keep some items in a carry-on that you keep with you. 

Things like travel documents, medications, essential devices, an extra pair of clothing, and anything else that would cause major problems if you lost should be kept in this bag.

Some extra things to remember on embarkation day can be found here.

3. Sticking Around the Cabin

I know it’s hard to leave that little oasis you came to love over the course of a 7-day cruise.  But your cabin steward has a busy job getting the ship ready for the next passengers. 

Instead of sleeping in on disembarkation day, make sure you leave the cabin at the appropriate time.  This time will be announced several times by the cruise director and listed on the app or daily schedule as well. 

You might be surprised how many passengers try to stay in their cabins until they are almost dragged out.  Vacate that cabin and enjoy a little more free food around the ship before you have to say goodbye.

Read more: 25 things to do to make your cruise cabin more livable

4. Attempting to Carry Way Too Much Luggage

There’s a reason cruise lines offer to carry your suitcases off the ship for you.  It prevents the all too prevalent clogging of the hallways and elevators.  The problem is that self-assist allows passengers to get off the ship first.  So, they have priority.  If those same passengers also have a massive amount of luggage, it means slower debark times for everyone else behind them.

I’ve written before about how I like to travel with just a carry-on as often as possible, so I’m a very light packer.  For longer cruises this isn’t as easy to manage.  If carrying all of your luggage requires a herculean effort that results in scraping the walls with your bags, stopping every few feet to gather your strength, and filling every square inch of already busy elevators, you probably should have checked your luggage.

Related article: How much luggage can I bring on a cruise?

5. Trying to Sneak Prohibited Items Off the Ship

This one is a big no-no, but it happens on almost every cruise as well.  Don’t even think about trying to take fruits and vegetables off the ship.  You might have shoved them into your bag for a snack on the flight like a hamster preparing for winter, but custom regulations are strict on this matter.

You will see plenty of signage warning about this before you get to customs and there are usually trash cans allowing you to discard these items before they become a problem.  Just don’t let it become a problem.

6. Being Rude, Cutting in Line, Etc.

Sure, you’re grumpy that you must leave this magical floating hotel that has fed and entertained you all week, but everyone else is in the same boat – or ship rather. 

Don’t make the mistake of short cutting lines to expedite the process.  I’ve witnessed some very rude behavior on disembarkation days on cruise ships over the years.    And the reality is it never helps anyone.

People with very early flights are especially in a rush and just want to get off the ship so they can get to the airport in time.    And that leads to me to probably one of the biggest mistakes cruisers make in the next point.

7. Booking Flights too Early in the Day

How early is too early is somewhat subjective, but I don’t like to book flights before noon on embarkation day.  Yes, there’s a mild excited rush you feel when you have a 10am flight and you just barely make it before boarding closes.  But that’s no way to spend the last moments of your cruise.

To make sure readers know that I’m just as prone to make this mistake as anyone else, I recently wrote about a 9am flight on disembarkation day and why I hope to never do that again.  Hey, we all make mistakes.  Just don’t make the same ones over and over again.

8. Not Paying Attention

For first-time cruisers disembarkation day seems a little overwhelming.  But the truth of the matter is that the cruise lines guide you along each step of the way.  All you have to do is pay attention. 

Pay attention to where you can wait to get off the ship, what lounges are open, where you should NOT congregate, etc.  Times for debarking will be announced by group or color and it’s a simple process if everyone just pays attention. 


Final Thoughts

The start of a cruise and the end of one carry very different emotions.  But as long as you focus on the great memories you enjoyed during the cruise and avoid these mistakes you should have no problem. 

Cruise lines have been making the debark process easier and easier over the years.  At many cruise ports you don’t even have to get our your passport at customs as they use facial recognition technology to get you right out the door.

The key is to keep a positive outlook, pay attention and by all means, start planning for that next cruise!

Read more: Cruise cabin rules: 10 things you should never do in your stateroom

Learn the cruise secrets most people don't know and cruise like a boss. Check out Intelligent Cruiser here for a better cruise vacation. (Sponsored)

J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
Cruise Tips8 Mistakes Too Many Cruisers Make on Disembarkation Day

Recent Popular Posts