Embarkation Day Facts and Tips for a Fun and Relaxing First Day on Your Cruise
Embarkation day for your cruise vacation is an exciting day. You get to board the ship and get checked into your stateroom. You’ll likely have a glass of Champagne or other drink in your hand within moments of boarding and you’ll immediately begin to feel in vacation mode.
Before you board, it’s good to know what to expect so you can maximize the first day of your cruise and not miss out on anything exciting. Being prepared for embarkation day also means your cruise will get off on the right step so it’s smooth sailing (figuratively speaking; we’ll take care of that in the literal sense!) for your entire time on board.
Check In Online and Print Your Luggage Tags Before Embarkation Day
One of the best ways to quickly start your vacation and get onto the ship in a stress-free manner is to check in online before you arrive to your embarkation port. While checking in online, you can provide all the information needed to expedite the time at the port so you can get on your ship faster. Keep in mind that checking in for cruises isn’t the same as checking in for a flight from a timeline perspective. While you may be used to checking in for your flight no more than 24 hours before it takes off, with a cruise the check in time is cut off a few days before embarkation day so don’t leave checking in until the last minute.
At the terminal on embarkation day, if you want to avoid long lines at security and the check in desk, plan on getting there right when boarding begins. Lines also tend to be much shorter during the last hour of boarding, but then you’ll be missing out on a few hours on board on embarkation day!
Also, if planning to arrive later, make sure you know when embarkation check in ends as this is usually before your ship sets sail. For coast guard purposes, the check in time ends earlier and if you get there after that cut-off time you won’t be able to board, even if the ship hasn’t pulled away from port yet.
Another way to avoid lines on embarkation day is to book a Suite or Concierge-class stateroom; you’ll get priority check-in and will be on the ship in no time.
Celebrity Edge has made this process even simpler. Using the check in app, you can even upload a photo of yourself. Then, when you arrive at Celebrity Edge’s state of the art new terminal, the innovative technology being used will instantly recognize your face and you’ll be whisked away inside in mere minutes.
Make sure you also arrive with your proper documents in hand. This likely includes a passport (though some itineraries that are closed-loop itineraries out of the U.S. only require a government-issued form of photo ID and not necessarily a passport). You’ll also want to have any applicable visas with you if required for international ports you’ll be visiting.
When planning your pre-embarkation day to-do list and schedule, it’s also wise to book a flight that gets to the embarkation port a day before. That way, you have time to spare to account for any flight delays and still get to your ship on time.
Drop Off Your Luggage at the Curb on Embarkation Day
Whether you’re sailing on Celebrity Edge or another ship, you’ll want to do one more thing before you go inside the cruise terminal. As soon as you arrive to the port, you’ll be met at the vehicle drop-off area by couriers who will take your luggage and put it onto racks. From that point it will be brought onto the ship and delivered to your stateroom.
To make this process easier, you can print off luggage tags at home from your cruise account at the same time you check in. These luggage tags have your name and stateroom number on them and you can simply staple them around your luggage handle. You can also get luggage tags mailed to you if you book your cruise early enough.
Also, your stateroom might not be ready immediately upon boarding, particularly if you’re there right at the beginning of embarkation day. This is another reason to drop off your luggage before boarding. In addition to not crowding the hallways and elevators with luggage, you won’t have to be lugging a big suitcase around the ship with you until your stateroom is ready for you to enter it.
What to Put in Your Handheld Luggage for Embarkation Day
Not all of your luggage should go with the couriers, however. Keeping a carry-on size suitcase or duffel bag or even a backpack with some key essentials in it is wise to have with you while boarding the ship.
Just like on an airplane, keep important items with you that aren’t easily replaceable on vacation, such as laptops, prescription eyeglasses, medication, and special jewelry.
In your handheld luggage, you’ll also want to pack a swimsuit or spa clothes if you’re planning on heading to the pool or spa right away. That’s because your luggage may not be delivered to your room right away, even if you do have access to your stateroom immediately. If it’s a 90-degree day in Miami (or another sun-soaked embarkation port) you don’t want to miss out on some perfect pool time because you don’t have your suit with you yet.
Another tip if you want to get to your room as quickly as possible is to pack a handheld that you can easily carry on the stairs. The elevators on embarkation day typically have a longer wait since more people are utilizing them to get to their room or first point of interest after boarding. Don’t worry – wait time for an elevator usually decreases drastically after embarkation day.
Check for Special Embarkation Day Deals in the Spa
If heading straight to the spa after boarding on embarkation day instead of exploring the ship sounds like a surprising activity to you, that may be because you don’t know this savvy spa secret: spa treatments are often discounted on embarkation day.
You can get a great deal on a massage, facial, body wrap, or other certain spa treatments on embarkation day, and sometimes these deals even extend to the next morning.
Embarkation day is also a good time to ask for a tour of the cruise ship’s spa facilities and ask any questions at the front desk of the spa to learn more about your options for pampering during the cruise.
In addition, embarkation day may have seminars you can attend that are led by spa technicians. At these seminars you’ll learn wellness tips and more about treatments that will help your body and mind feel rejuvenated.
Make Restaurant Reservations
Another place where you can often find embarkation day deals is in the specialty restaurants. The first night of the cruise often has a discount since most people are excited to check out “their” table in the Main Dining Room. But if the excitement of that can wait for you until the next night, you can score a great deal at one of the many specialty restaurants on board the evening you embark.
Even if you don’t want to dine in a specialty restaurant your first night, embarkation day is still a good time to touch base with the maître d’ at each restaurant (who are usually available outside the restaurant entrance on embarkation day) and make reservations for later on in the cruise if you haven’t already done so online before arriving to the ship. Specialty restaurants do fill up, especially on days at sea or early departure port days, so don’t delay and miss out on the chance of dining at the restaurant with your favorite theme or cuisine on your preferred day.
If you think you’ll want to reserve numerous specialty restaurants, embarkation day is also a good time to check out the various restaurant packages that can save you some money depending on the number and type of specialty restaurants at which you want to dine.
Don’t forget about the Main Dining Room on embarkation day either. This is a good time to talk to the maître d’ if you have any concerns about seating, dietary concerns, or your scheduled dining time. They can help make sure your dining experience on board is as easy as possible.
And speaking of both food and embarkation day, there’s a good chance you’ll soon be hungry after boarding the ship. Have no fear; you don’t need to wait until dinner that evening to eat. As soon as you board the ship you’ll be able to head to the Lido deck for some al fresco comfort food bites by the pool, or up to the buffet for a variety of options. Suite guests on our ships can dine in Luminae for lunch on embarkation day as well.
Go to the Kids Club Open House
If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll likely want to take advantage of the fun kids clubs on board. Embarkation day typically has an open house for the kids club rooms, during which you can stop by to tour the facility together as a family. This gets your children comfortable in the space while having you there. It also give you a chance to speak with the caregivers who will be interacting with your child and ask any questions you may have about the schedule or activities of the kids club.
During the open house you can also get your kids all registered and sign any necessary paperwork so your children are all ready to have an exciting and fun-filled time during the cruise – and give you some much-needed adult time!
Take Time to Unpack on Embarkation Day
Once your luggage arrives to your stateroom, it’s a smart idea to take some time to unpack before dinner. While you’re at dinner, your stateroom attendant will come in to freshen up your room, turn down your sheets, and leave a chocolate treat and some information documents for the following day of the cruise. It’s always nice to come back from dinner to a tidy room.
You can then just kick off your shoes and relax on the bed or couch with Celebrity Today in hand; Celebrity Today is the daily itinerary you’ll receive each evening during your cruise that tells you what to expect on board or in port the following day and has a comprehensive schedule that lists out when and where every activity, seminar, and show is taking place, plus the opening hours for restaurants, lounges, the spa, and the kids club.
So in order to enjoy this relaxing ambiance, take some time out from exploring the ship to unpack. Maybe get a glass of wine from the Sunset Bar or one of the other bars and lounges on board to enjoy before you do so to make the unpacking process more fun – after all, it’s embarkation day and you’re officially on vacation!
Don’t want to spend any time unpacking? Consider booking yourself into a suite – on our ships all suites come with butler service and your butler will unpack for you (and then pack it all back up for you at the end of the cruise).
Introduce Yourself to Your Stateroom Attendant
Your stateroom attendant will likely end up being a highlight of your cruise. Our stateroom attendants are friendly and provide top-notch service. They want to make your accommodations as comfortable and as relaxing as possible.
You’ll likely see them in the hallways outside your stateroom and they’ll be quick to say hello. This is a good time to introduce yourself and make any initial requests you may have, such as only stocking the mini fridge with red wine and not white wine or changing the bed configuration if it’s not already to your preference (you can have the beds pushed together to make a king size bed, or split up to make two separate beds).
Go to the Sail Away Party
When your ship pulls away from port, it’s a fun time to be outside one on of the decks and watching your embarkation port get further and further away as you sail off into the horizon.
A fun way to celebrate this is at a sail away party, where you can order a glass of champagne to celebrate the start of your cruise and mingle with other guests who will be on board – and are potential new friends – for the rest of your cruise.
Check the schedule in your stateroom for embarkation day to see if your ship and itinerary have a party on board to celebrate the ship setting sail. These parties are often on the sunset deck or pool deck and have live music.
Speak with the Shore Excursion Desk
If you arrive to the ship on embarkation day still not sure what you want to do during the ports of call your ship will be visiting, a visit to the shore excursion desk is a must.
The most popular shore excursions fill up quickly – sometimes even in advance of the ship sail date since you can reserve them online – and any prime ones that are still available by embarkation day will likely be full very soon after the ship sets sail as cruisers learn more about the different ports of call in informational seminars that are conducted the first couple days of the cruise.
Beat those guests to booking by having your own one-on-one consultation with the shore excursion desk, who can answer any questions you have about different excursions and what is the best fit for you and your interests in each destination.
You’ll also find a shore excursion pamphlet in your room (or can get one by the shore excursion desk) that lists out all the shore excursions you can do with descriptions of each.
Book Your Cruise and Get Ready for Embarkation Day Fun
A cruise is a special type of vacation since you get to start relaxing and having fun the second you get on board – all those other pesky vacation logistics like transportation, figuring out where to eat, and finding entertainment is all done for you. So find your perfect cruise ship deal, check in online, arrive early on embarkation day, grab a drink, and relax into blissful vacation mode.