You walk up the gangway, a backpack slung across your shoulder and your headphones pushed low around your neck, and you smile at the crew lined up on deck. It’s the first day of your well-deserved cruise vacation, and you can’t wait to put some serious nautical miles between you and the mainland. So…what do you do first?
That’s an important question to answer, because the first day is your golden opportunity to get your cruise floating on the right foot. It’s a transition zone that not only helps your mind, body and soul turn off their real-world switches and go completely into vacation mode, but also helps your cruise-mates feel completely comfortable as you all embark on this grand adventure.
In order to kick off your cruise in the best possible way, be sure to do the following on embarkation day.
Tour the Ship
This is obvious, but still a must. Learn your way around as best you can, especially in relation to your cabin. And while you’re learning where everything is, go ahead and make reservations at the specialty restaurants and the spa. The best times fill up fast, so grab some spots while you can. Teach your kids to check out the carpet, which often has signs to point out where the front and back of the ship are, and then show them where the arcade, teen’s club, gaming room and onboard pizza joint are located.
Skip the Buffet
Everyone goes straight to the buffet for lunch. But you’re not everyone—you’re smart enough to follow our advice! Instead, scout out the smaller restaurants around the pool area and grab a gourmet veggie burger and boardwalk fries, knowing that your time onboard will be a culinary marathon, and there’s no need to rush into the race.
Hit the Pool
Most passengers have to wait for their luggage to arrive to their cabins in order to change into their swimsuits. Instead, bring your swim trunks and sandals onboard in your carry-on bag, and then spend a leisurely afternoon in an uncrowded pool. The wee ones will love having the splash area all to themselves, and you’ll love having first dibs on primo deck chairs.
Buy Your Drink Package
If you do plan to buy an alcohol package or soda card, do it on day one in order to get the most bang for your buck. Sure the upfront price tag might give you a bit of sticker shock, but it makes the rest of your time onboard feel like a true vacation. Just do the math: let’s say there are four of you, and you collectively consume 24 sodas, coffees, craft beers, fancy wines, energy drinks, coconut waters, champagnes and those colorful pool-side daiquiris with the umbrellas on top per day (go ahead, we’re not judging you!) then the money you save with a drink package will practically pay for the cruise!
Enjoy the Sail Away
From on deck or from your private balcony, make sure you watch the mainland disappear into the horizon as your ship sets sails—preferably with a glass of bubbles in hand. This mental cue will help you fully embrace the true start of your relaxing cruise vacation and is guaranteed to get you positively giddy about the destinations and experiences yet to come.