Updated April 2018
The time has arrived - there are 0 days left on your countdown, you’ve got through the tedious packing and you have arrived at the port where your ship stands eagerly waiting for you.
With excitement levels at an all-time high, check-in is already a distant memory, and you have stepped onboard for the cruise holiday of a lifetime. But with so much to do and see, where do you start? Where do you go first? Do you want to eat already? Can you get into your cabin yet? What activities are starting?
As well as exciting, the first day onboard can be slightly daunting for some. Once you’ve found your cabin, had some lunch, participated in the guest muster drill, and taken a minute to reflect on the journey you are about to encounter – your holiday officially starts.
People often wonder what to do during their first day onboard and worry about missing out on something. To help assuage these thoughts, we decided to put together a guide to help you make the most of your first day onboard.
Unpack – After not long packing your cases ready for your cruise, the thought of unpacking is far from appealing . However it's advisable to unpack straight away, and then you won't have to worry about wasting valuable exploring time during your second day. It's guaranteed you will feel relieved and settled in your cabin once it’s all done.
Meet your cabin steward – Your cabin steward will become your best friend during a cruise. They are likely to come and introduce themselves within the first few hours of being onboard, and make you feel extremely welcome. By the time your cruise is over, they will be one of the most memorable people of your cruise.
Check your dining arrangements – Dining arrangements are organised by the cruise line before you cruise so it is important to express your seating preferences and dining times to your agent. However, this will only be a request and can not always be catered for. You should check the dining times you have been allocated (normally found on your cruise card) and if you are not satisfied with them, try to have it amended as soon as possible. Normally a dining room co-coordinator will be available at a certain time slot during the first day for dining inquires.
Go to the sail away party – Sailing away from port is one of the most memorable experiences of a cruise, especially the first sail away. With everyone in high spirits, cocktail in hand and congregating on the top deck to marvel at the incredible passing skylines - the sail away party kicks off your cruise in style.
Know your way – It's a good idea to gather your bearings at the beginning of your cruise. While you don't necessarily need to get your ship map out and know exactly where everything is, it is a good idea to work out where your cabin is in comparison to the dining room, outer decks, pool etc.
Book shows – Not all, but some cruise lines require you to make reservations for shows onboard and not beforehand. Yes, do expect queues of people getting their tickets on day one, but isn’t it better to stand in a line for a little while on the first day then waste sunbathing time on day two?
Make dining arrangements – Cruise ships offer an array of speciality dining restaurants with everything from Italian bistros and sushi bars to luxurious steak houses. These are normally popular with guests, especially those wanting to experience something different or those celebrating a special occasion. Therefore, it's recommended that you make a reservation in advance if you want to dine at one of these exclusive restaurants.
Take a selfie – This may sound like a silly thing to do, but taking a selfie - or getting someone to take a picture of you - on the first day of the cruise is a great idea for so many reasons. At the end of your cruise, take a little look back at this picture and you're sure to have a giggle. Have you developed a tan? Increased the size of your smile? Gained fresher looking skin?
Have an early night – After a busy day of travelling and the excitement of your first day exploring onboard, take advantage of the first night to retire to your bed early. The remaining nights of the cruise will have all sorts of entertainment going on until the early hours of the morning and you will find this far more appealing than sleeping!
See our top tips for embarkation for more help and advice regarding your first day of cruising.
By Sally Grimes