All cruises come to an end eventually and it hardly seems
fair that you have to leave when it feels like your vacation has
just begun—days on a cruise fly by!
process actually begins the day before you arrive at your ship's
homeport. Sometime during that day your cabin steward delivers
special luggage tags to your stateroom, along with Customs forms and
instructions. Be organized and avoid a lot of last-minute anxiety.
First, you have to
pack for home. Be sure to set aside clothing to wear the morning you
leave the ship. Many people dress in whatever casual outfits they
wear for the final dinner on board, or change into travel clothes
after dinner. Also, don't forget to put your passport or other proof
of citizenship, airline tickets, and medications in hand luggage!
remove all the old tags from your suitcases, except for personal
identification. Then attach the new debarkation tags (they are
color- or number-coded according post-cruise flight schedules).
Follow the instructions provided and place the luggage outside your
stateroom door for pick up during the hours indicated.
itemizing your on board charges is delivered before you arise on
debarkation morning. Plan to get up early enough to check it over
for accuracy, finish packing your personal belongings, and vacate
your stateroom by the appointed hour. Any discrepancies in your on
board account should be taken care of before leaving the ship,
usually at the Purser's Desk.
Room service is not
available on most ships; however, breakfast is served in the main
restaurant as well as the buffet. After breakfast, there isn't much
to do but wait comfortably in a lounge or on deck for your tag color
or number to be called.
procedures can sometimes be drawn out by passengers who are
unprepared. This is no time to abandon your patience or sense of
Remember that all
passengers must meet with Customs and Immigration officials before
debarkation, either on the ship or in the terminal. Procedures vary
and are outlined in your instructions. In some ports, passengers
must meet with the officials at a specified hour (usually very
early) in an onboard lounge; in other ports, Customs forms are
collected in the terminal and passports/identification papers are
examined there as well.
Once in the
terminal, luggage is sorted by color or number. Locate yours and, if
desired, flag down a porter for assistance. Then, either proceed to
your bus, taxi, or retrieve your vehicle from the parking lot.
Your cruise is
complete and you are officially a "veteran" sailor!
Hint: One way to lessen the pain of
leaving your ship is to book another cruise while you are on board.
& things to keep in mind
Just as there is no such thing as a perfect vacation, a flawless
cruise is an unrealistic expectation. Every officer and staff member
on your ship has the same goal: to meet passenger expectations and
provide a safe and satisfying voyage. The more you know as a
passenger, the better you will be prepared.
With dozens of cruises logged on my current passport, I've never
been on a perfect sailing. Small things go wrong; however, some
problems are simply a matter of miscommunication or misguided
expectations. Following are a few "situations" you may
encounter. With expanded knowledge and an understanding of how
things work, they don't have to ruin your cruise.
As a rule, the larger the ship, the longer it takes for
your luggage to be delivered on embarkation day. Even if you were
one of the first passengers to board the ship, that doesn't
necessarily mean you will be the first to get your luggage.
Sometimes it will all appear early in the day; however, it could
materialize piece by piece during the course of the afternoon and
into evening. If it appears that all the luggage has been
distributed (you don't see any more in the passageways or being
delivered) and you don't have all your luggage by about 8 pm, check
with the reception desk. They might be able to give you a progress
report—for instance, the "room"
tag affixed to a suitcase may have been damaged. In that case, it
would be set aside until the name on the luggage identification tag
could be matched with the manifest. This illustrates why it's
very important to have your name on the outside and inside of
Staterooms: Congratulations if you received a last minute
complimentary upgrade or were able to purchase an upgrade to better
accommodations at the pier. After you board the ship and inspect
your superior quarters, tell your steward about the change and
request that he take care of getting your luggage to the right
stateroom. It's not a bad idea to be proactive as well, so take the
time to stop by your original cabin. You might find your luggage
there already, as well as anything that was delivered for you
(rented tuxedo, bon voyage gifts, messages, etc). If the steward is
available, tell him your new cabin number. Then, be patient—stewards
are very busy on embarkation day.
There are many "Kodak
Moments" on a cruise and ship photographers are there to
capture them. In fact, they often create situations for photo ops. The
photographers set their equipment up in a variety of locations
before and after formal night dinners to snap portraits and they
also make the rounds in the dining room to take informal shots of
couples and groups. Photo shop hours are listed in the daily
schedule and it's fun to pick out your pictures, whether you intend
to purchase them or not. Some shipboard photo shops also offer film
processing and other photo services.
For the sake of convenience,
most cruise lines automatically add the recommended gratuities to
passengers' on board accounts. You may request that your account be
credited if you prefer to handle them with cash. Other cruise lines
offer the option of charging gratuities and you may do so by
following the procedure they outline.
Missed Ports of
weather conditions and mechanical problems cause a cruise ship to
bypass ports of call. Read your "Contract of Carriage" and
you'll see that cruise lines reserve the right to change the
itinerary for just cause.
See the Hotel Director when a
situation occurs that you feel needs to be addressed. I've never met
a Hotel Director who didn't take his job seriously and there isn't
much he can do after the cruise is over.
This might more accurately be
termed "lack of communication." In the event of an unusual
situation or emergency, the officers and crew of your vessel are
more concerned with problem solving than keeping passengers
informed. Patience is called for—don't
insist that you are being kept in the dark. The Captain and his
officers will give you the information you need in good time.
Sailing & Bon Voyage!
What to expect:
to Embarkation Day