1. Get ready
- Before you leave the house, print out our Keeping Your Home Safe While You Travel article to take care of any last-minute preparations.
2. Flying to the port?
- Check flight times, then give yourself plenty of time to go through security and get to your gate.
- Flight delayed or canceled?
- contact your airline to tell them you’re a cruise passenger with a schedule departure time and ask about alternate flights.
- Contact your cruise line as soon as possible to tell them about the flight problems.
3. Get to the port with plenty of time to board.
- Board at least 90 minutes before the cruise ship leaves.
- Most larger cruise ships allow you to board several hours before final departure time.
WHN Reader TIP – Get On Board: “Board the ship a few hours earlier than you’re told to, so you can settle in and enjoy lunch before the late-day departure. This tip was given to me by my brother (a veteran cruiser) before I embarked, and it gave me a jump start on my cruise experience!” Melissa, New York, NY
4. Expect to go through cruise security
- When boarding a larger cruise line, you will go through security just like at an airport.
- Your luggage will be scanned through x-rays and metal detectors then they will be delivered to your room a few hours later.
WHN Reader TIP – Carry On Luggage: Security on cruise ships is why having a carry-on is important! Keep all medications and special needs items in this bag because your luggage won’t be delivered to you until later.
5. Receive mock credit cards.
- Larger cruise ships will issue a “mock” credit card on which to charge all expenses while on the ship.
- Know what’s not included in the initial cruise fee, such as drinks, gift shop purchases, casino expenses, spa services, doctor services and other miscellaneous costs.
- Keep this card safe so no one else can use it to charge to your account.
- Lose your card?
- Contact the ship’s front desk or purser immediately. Let them know the last time you had the card and when you noticed it was missing.
- Ask if it’s possible to reissue another card for your account.
WHN TIP – Manage Your Expenses: You might want to consider putting on a daily or total trip ceiling on all cards – a predetermined limit that can be spent for a certain time period. Consult your cruise line to find out more about this option.
6. Explore the ship!
- While waiting for others to board, explore as much of the ship as possible. so you know the options available later.
WHN TIP – Stay in the Know: Daily bulletins are provided to each cabin – read it to know what’s available when. It also has daily news, weather and info about your next destinations.
7. Change watch to Ship Time
- Change your watch to match the SHIP’S TIME, which often is different from the time ashore.
- Make sure you understand exactly when the ship departs from each port each day so you don’t miss the boat!
8. Take part in the safety drill.
- Once everyone has boarded, there will be a safety or “muster” drill before leaving port. This is for safety reasons and is mandatory – everyone must take part.
- You’ll usually be divided into groups and be instructed on how to use a lifejacket and where the lifeboats are located.
9. Keep track of your valuables.
- Many cruise lines have lock boxes/safety boxes available for guests. Ask for these on the first day so that you’ll have one for the entire trip.