Nothing matches the excitement that comes with first stepping aboard a cruise ship. From first getting a sense of the massive size of the ship to the anticipation of the fun times you’re about to have on your vacation, all of those emotions seem to hit at once as you board.
Amid all of that excitement is the question of what to do first. Find your cabin? Hit the buffet for a quick snack? Grab your first adult beverage? All are good choices, but if you want to make the most of your first hour on the cruise ship, then there several things you can do to get your cruise started off on the right foot.
Here’s what is ideal to do in your first 60 minutes on the ship…
Make Any Last-Minute Phone Calls or Texts
Unless you have an international calling plan or want to makes calls through the ship’s expensive cellular service, go ahead and make any final calls before the ship leaves port. Once the cruise departs, you won’t be able to make calls from regular land-based cellular towers, although you will be able to call if you signed up for the ship’s internet wi-fi plan.
Take a few minutes to call anyone you might need to talk to before you leave, send any last-minute texts, or check your email one last time while you still have service in port.
Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode
After you make any last-minute calls, you want to either turn your phone off or more likely, just be sure to put it into airplane mode.
Once you are outside of the reach of land-based towers, your phone will automatically search for service, and could possibly go into roaming mode. That by itself isn’t an issue, but if the phone starts using data (such as with automatic downloaded updates) or receiving text messages, you could be charged considerably more for the service than you would on land. The easiest thing to do is simply avoid the situation altogether. Airplane mode still lets you access wi-fi service, but won’t try to connect to cell towers.
Sign Up For Any Reservations You Know You Want
Do you plan to eat at the ship’s steakhouse or do you really want that spa treatment at 10 a.m. the next morning? If you have your heart set on a specific reservation, you want to do it as soon as possible. Yes, you can do it online ahead of time but on the ship you can usually make a reservation through the cruise line app or through the cabin phone.
Reservations for the most popular times can fill up quickly, leaving you with your second choices if you wait until later to sign up. Remember, you can always cancel a reservation later if you change your mind, so there is no harm is signing up right when you board the ship.
Test Your In-Room Safe
Every cruise cabin comes with an in-room safe.. It’s a convenient way to keep your valuables stored while you are out of the room or on an excursion. Take a few minutes right when you board to understand how to open and lock your safe, and make sure it functions as it should. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to let your room steward or Guest Services know as soon as possible.
The safe is invaluable for storing things like passports, cash, and credit cards to give you peace of mind while out and about.
Organize Your Luggage Before You Head Out
When you first board the ship, you likely want to spend as little time as possible in your cabin. But before you head out to explore, we definitely suggest taking a few minutes to organize your cabin.
Get out your toothbrush, put your luggage in the closet, and clear any clothes or bags off the bed. You don’t need to completely unpack in the first hour (although we normally do!), but a little organization can go a long way.
You’ll be thankful you did when you come back from an evening of fun and don’t have to move around a bunch of heavy bags or dig through your luggage to brush your teeth and get ready for bed.
Take a Look at the First Hours of the Ship’s Daily Schedule
As you enter your cabin for the first time, you’ll be greeted with a whole stack of mail. This usually includes the ship’s daily “newspaper” — a 2-4 page brief with the schedule of activities and information about the ship, ports, etc. It’s also available on the cruise line’s app.
Before you head out to explore, take a couple of minutes to look through the schedule for the next few hours. This will give you an idea of what’s going on right at the start that you might be interested in doing, such as the “sail away” party.
Complete the Muster Drill
No one likes the muster drill, but it’s required by law and all passengers must participate. If you haven’t heard of muster, it’s a safety drill where each passenger meets at their assigned station on the deck as they would if there were an emergency. The drill takes place before the ship departs and you will hear announcements related to it once you board the ship.
Thankfully since the pause in cruising muster has become much easier. You watch a video on your phone or cabin TV and then head to the assembly point where you are checked in. It only takes a few minutes to complete on your own time, instead of everyone doing it at once.
Still, getting it knocked out in the first hour you board means you’re ready to let loose instead of having it hanging over you.
Have other things that you do right when you board? Let us know in the comments below…