9 Things to Do Immediately After You Board

things to do after embarkation boarding
Don't forget to grab an umbrella drink and change into your swimsuit. - Photo by nd3000 / Thinkstock

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

reservations show cruise mama mia

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

things do after board cruise change

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

umbrella drink cruise ship tradition

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

tour the ship royal oasis seas

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.


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5. Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode

phone airplane mode after you board

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

cruise ship buffet 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

cruise ship cabin check after boarding

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, inspect your cabin to make sure everything 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

muster drill things after you board

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

disney sail away before you board

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.


Join the discussion

What's one thing you never forget to do after you board?


Posted by CrusinTim

Two things not mentioned is to confirm the dining request you have as indicated on your "sail & sign" card. If it is not the time you requested, then is the time to go to the dining room and talk to the Maitre'd to see if it can be changed. The second thing I do (and this is an option), is to go to the Customer Service desk and put some cash on my cabin account. I usually deposit at least enough to cover the service gratuities. Doing this gives you full reign of your spending and leaves any OBC's for you to use without any (or many) last minute surprises.

Posted by pointfndr1



if you order a drink before setting sail in Florida, you pay tax on it, just sayin'.

Posted by Scarleigh21

You can't change your dining once it has been assigned because they sail at full capacity and all dining assignments have been assigned, which is why you should pick your dining time when you book (the closer to sail date you book, the less choice you have). You also should have taken care of your onboard expense account when you checked in.

Posted by Toryhere

The lesson is that you should avoid mass market cruise lines if you can and go on one of the all inclusive ships where you don’t have to worry about drinks packages, dining times and queueing. Instead of doing one cruise a year on a cheap ship, do one cruise every two years on an expensive ship.

Posted by cruisellama

You can also find your assigned table in the MDR and check it out.

Posted by cruisellama

May need to modify #5 to "turn on airplane mode but then turn on Wi-Fi so you can use the ship's APP" (PS I liked locking my phone in the safe and forgetting about it until after the cruise)

Posted by AwwChuckit

You may want to confirm with any reservations for Specialty Restaurants too. If you buy a 3 or 5 Night Dining Package on Royal, they require you to make that reservation for the first or second night of the cruise. On some ships, you cannot make the reservations for the remaining nights until you get on-board. However, any other cruiser can book one of those specialty restaurants in advance that don't have such a dining package which could leave some of the times or days you wanted unavailable. Better safe than sorry...forego the crowds jockeying for a quick bite in the buffet as soon as you board and ensure your dinner reservations...between the two, dinner in a specialty restaurant with all of the bells and whistles is more pressing of a priority than a cattle call lunch at the buffet....but that's my opinion.

Posted by Lazylizy

Stretch your legs and check out ship than find a spot in the sun get your first umbrella drink an bask in sun ... flip flops off

Posted by 1powerguy

I personally have issues with 1, 5 and 7. One I don't understand how people can book your specialty restaurant days in advance when I don't know what I want for dinner tonight let alone 4 days from now, Five don't just put your phone on airplane mode but put it in your room safe unless you need it for photos. Seven PLEASE don't think that your room is going to look nearly as big as in this picture. When you first walk in you will wonder where the rest of the room is...LOL

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