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Cruise 101: What to Expect on Debarkation Day

Inevitably, all good things must come to an end.  As your cruise holiday comes to a close and you prepare to head back home, debarkation day (or departure day) is the day you disembark your cruise ship and venture back home refreshed and renewed.  The key to a smooth and easy debarkation day is following direction from the cruise line employees. 

Norwegian is very prepared and understands the importance of making it to the airport for early flights and the importance of getting you back on dry land in a timely manner.  It's important to remember they've done this countless times, so they have an extensive system in place to make sure things flow efficiently and to get you where you need to be as quickly as possible. 

Preparation for debarkation day starts the night before by making final purchases, saying your goodbyes, arranging your luggage, and preparing for customs.

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Final Purchases

The night before disembarking is the last chance to make the most of your trip, so have a cocktail, make your final duty free purchases, or win money at the cruise casino.  It’s also the time to purchase your favorite cruise photos before they are gone. 

Saying Goodbye

The night before disembarking, you will want to say your goodbyes to stateroom attendants, dining room staff, and other crew members who have impacted your cruise vacation.  You may not see them on the last day. 

This is a great time to give out any extra tips to anyone who went above and beyond your expectations, although it's not required or even expected.  You will also want to say your goodbyes to any fellow cruise passengers you met while onboard, and exchange contact information with anyone you may want to keep in touch with.


You have two options for handling your luggage on debarkation day.  You can self-assist, which means you will carry off your luggage.  If you decide to do this, you will need to be able to carry all of your bags down the gangway and through Customs.  You will want to read these Cruise Packing Tips to minimize the amount of luggage you bring. 

Otherwise, you can pack your luggage and put it outside of your door the night before, and Norwegian Cruise Line employees will pick it up and take it to the holding areas for pick up the next morning.  (Don’t forget to keep identification documents, clothes, and any other necessities with you for debarkation day!)

Make sure you attach the luggage tags that Norwegian will provide with assigned zone numbers, so that you can easily locate your luggage the next day.  Porters are available if you need help with your luggage.  Once you make your way off the ship, you can pick up your luggage and head to Customs.


When you arrive at your debarkation port and after you've gathered your luggage, you will go through Customs.  You will be given a Customs Declaration form the night before in your stateroom.  Fill the form out prior to entering Customs to save time.

You’ll also need your identification documents at this time.  Once you’ve made it through Customs, you can either go to the arranged transportation designated area to get a taxi or shuttle, or you can go directly to your vehicle if you parked at the cruise port.

Debarkation Day Cruise Tips from Norwegian Cruise Line

Departure day doesn’t have to be a sad event.  The fun doesn’t even have to end here! You can always book shore excursions in your debarkation port.  Or if you just want to get home as soon as possible, you can post your vacation photos on your social media and share the stories and memories you made with friends and family.  When you finally get back home, look on the bright side: it’s just time to begin planning your next cruise!