Being on a cruise is relaxing, but getting there can be stressful. Between toting luggage, sorting through documents, and the long process of boarding the ship, there are ample opportunities for things to go wrong. If you want to have a stress-free embarkation day, there are a few key preparations that you need to make in advance. These tips will not only keep you from stressing out, but they may even help you have more fun on your cruise.
#1. Arrive at the port city a day in advance
If you want to eliminate your embarkation day stress, the best thing you can do is arrive at the port city a day in advance. Whether you’re driving from your home or flying in, you don’t want to have the pressure of making it on time weighing you down. Flights are often delayed by several hours, and your car could get stuck on the side of the road. Even if all goes well en route to the port city, you will still benefit from having extra time to sightsee, have a relaxing dinner, and spend a restful night in a local hotel. This will not only prevent stress, but it will also allow you to add exploring the port city to your trip activities.
#2. Arrange parking or transportation
If you’re driving your car to the port and parking there, make sure to pre-book your parking spot in advance to avoid the hassle of parking last minute. Finding a parking spot at the last minute can put you in a frazzling situation and can give your trip a bad start. If you flew in or prefer to park your car somewhere else, consider hiring a taxi so that you don’t have to worry about parking at the port at all. Pre-booking often gives you a better deal on parking rates, but arranging transportation with a taxi service will reduce embarkation day stress even more. If you are driving, be sure to plan your way to the port ahead of time and try to avoid driving during rush hour.
#3. Get organized
The most important things that you need to take with you include money, debit cards, identification, tickets, and documents. Make sure to have all of your paperwork signed and ready to go in advance, and keep all of your documents on you at all times while boarding the ship. Never put them in a bag that’s being separated from you at any time during boarding. In addition, you should know the requirements of the countries you’re entering and make sure to have all of your visas and passes approved well in advance of your trip. To be safe, make and pack several photocopies of your passport as some ports may not allow you to enter without them.
#4. Prepare to wait
Whether you like it or not, you’ll probably spend a significant portion of your day waiting in queues to check in and board the ship. Make the most of this time by bringing a good book, magazines, your tablet, puzzles, some work, or anything else that will be enjoyable or productive during this time. Whether your strategy is to arrive early or late, you won’t be able to predict when the other passengers are going to show up. While you probably want to avoid the crowds, bringing something fun or useful to do while you wait is essential to smooth boarding when lines are long.
#5. Dress for a variety of temperatures
Waiting outside to board can expose you to the hot sun while sitting in the terminal can get cold. If the weather is warm, make sure to wear light clothing, but bring a shawl or sweater in case the terminal gets chilly. If you're going on a winter cruise, wear plenty of warm layers that you can take off if the terminal becomes stuffy. Finally, don't ignore your feet! If you plan on wearing sandals, remember to pack some warm socks in your personal bag for emergencies.
#6. Consider exchanging your currency in advance
If you know which ports you’re visiting, you may want to get some currency exchanged ahead of time to save yourself the hassle of doing it on the spot. Try to find out the cost of items that you might buy, such as souvenirs or food, and exchange the right amount. Also, be sure to ask for a variety of bills as many small vendors may not have change for larger ones.
#7. Dos and Don’ts
- Don’t wait until the last minute to pack. Try to pack at least one day before leaving your home, and triple check that you have everything you need.
- Do book your activities in advance. Restaurant reservations and spa services on board may be hard to get if you wait until you’re there. Try to book these ahead of time, and plan something relaxing to help you unwind on embarkation day.
- Do purchase travel insurance if taking expensive valuables with you. Travel insurance packages may also cover canceled trips, emergency flights home, and medical expenses.
- Do keep track of time and know when embarkation ends. If you arrive too late, you might not be allowed to board.
You can’t predict every roadblock or delay that you might run into, but you can prevent them by being prepared. Mild anxieties are normal on embarkation day, but you can make this day much more enjoyable if you’re organized, make plans ahead of time, and make room for some fun along the way.