Since you have at least a couple hours before you can get into your cabin and prepare for the sail away party, you may as well be as productive as possible before you get too weighed down by food and alcohol.
Here are nine things to make sure you’ve taken care of before your cruise is fully underway:
1. Make Dining, Spa, and Entertainment Reservations
Be sure to make reservations for popular shows like Mamma Mia on Royal Caribbean. - Photo by Royal Caribbean
If you want to dine in one of the ship's specialty restaurants or enjoy a spa treatment during your cruise, it’s best to make your arrangements as soon as you embark to make sure you don’t miss out. If you’re sailing on one of the new, mega-ships, you might also need to make reservations for some of the shows and entertainment on the ship.
Tip: On some lines you can actually make reservations in advance, so if there’s a show you really want to see, book it before you board!
2. Change out of Your Travel Clothes
Enjoy the empty pool while you can. - Photo by Shutterstock
This is especially true for people flying in from colder destinations. If you followed our tips for things to do before you board, you’ll have a change of clothes and a bathing suit ready in your carry on. If you boarded early, you might even have the rare opportunity of enjoying a nearly empty swimming pool.
3. Get an Umbrella Drink
You're not going to say no to tradition, are you? - Photo by Peter Cripps
It's a popular tradition to enjoy your first drink as soon as you embark, and the cruise lines help out by placing servers carrying trays of tropical drinks garnished with umbrellas by the pool and on the open decks.
4. Tour the Ship
It takes some time to learn your way around larger ships. - Photo by Royal Caribbean
Once you have your drink in hand, it’s time to start exploring. The ship will be your home for the next week, so it pays to get a feel for it right from the beginning. Makes notes of restaurants and activities you want to try, and don’t forget to look for quiet areas tucked away from the main drags you can escape to when you need a quiet moment.
Tip: Some ships even offer a complimentary orientation tour on embarkation day, which is an excellent opportunity to both get a lay of the land and ask crew members any questions you might have about the ship.
5. Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode
Turn off your signal unless you purchased a cruise plan from your carrier. - Photo by carol.anne
Once you’ve posted a few pictures from your ship tour on social media, added your cabin photos to our Ship Mate app and sent out a few final texts, put your phone onto airplane mode before you forget. Even a few days of roaming chargers can make your cell phone bill start to look more like your mortgage payment.
6. Eat Lunch
Buffets are quick and easy, but they can also be crowded. - Photo by mariakraynova
You're going to be eating non-stop for the next 3, 4 or 7 days, so you might as well get started. Lunch will be waiting in the buffet, so grab a plate, load up and begin your cruise with a full stomach.
7. Check Your Cabin
Don't assume your cabin will be as spotless as they are in the pictures. - Photo by MSC Cruises
Once your belly is full and you’ve gotten a feel for the ship, there’s a good chance that your cabin will be ready. Before you start unpacking and settling in, make sure everything in the cabin is clean, and that the lights, outlets and TV are in good working order. The sooner you can report an issue, the sooner you can get the staff to come and fix it.
8. Attend the Muster Drill
Always know your exit routes. - Photo by Shutterstock
Yes, the muster drill can be boring (especially for experienced cruisers), but it’s important and mandatory. Also, check the map on the back of your cabin door for the evacuation routes, so you know where to go in case of emergency.
9. Find a Good Spot for Sail Away
Arrive early for good views of the ocean and the fireworks. - Photo by Disney Cruise Line
Where you go for sail away depends on what you want to do. If you’re looking to party, head to the pool deck for a entertainment and festivities. If you want to watch the shore disappear into the distance as you cruise out to sea, find a prime railing on the top deck. Want a little of both? Try the sun deck that’s just above the pool on most ships. You can watch the festivities below and still keep an eye on the ocean.