What to Expect on a Cruise: Boarding a Cruise Ship (2023)

What to Expect on a Cruise: Boarding a Cruise Ship (1)

What to Expect on a Cruise: Boarding a Cruise Ship (ID: 1710) (Photo: Cruise Critic)

What to Expect on a Cruise: Boarding a Cruise Ship (2)

What to Expect on a Cruise: Boarding a Cruise Ship (ID: 1710) (Photo: Cruise Critic)

(Video) Boarding day cruise ship tips for 2022

How do I get on my ship? Is there a check-in process like at the airport?

The arrival and check-in process for your cruise can seem overwhelming and chaotic, but it's generally organized. Your cruise line will send you information about when to arrive at the port, giving a several-hour window, typically from late morning to mid-afternoon. You can show up at any time during that window. Generally speaking, the busiest time for boarding is between noon (when most cruise lines' regular check-in begins) and 2 p.m., so we recommend arriving just before or after that window. Bear in mind: If you arrive too early, you might have to wait around, especially if the passengers from the previous cruise are still disembarking. You also shouldn't cut it too close; understand that if you arrive after check-in has ended, even by just a few minutes, you likely will not be allowed to board.

When you arrive at the cruise terminal, the first thing to do is locate your boarding documents (either mailed to you or printed out at home) and your identification (passport or driver's license and birth certificate), and keep them handy.

(Video) What Happens Inside a Cruise Terminal on Boarding Day? [Cruise Tips]

Upon entering the terminal, you'll need to show your cruise documents and go through a security line. You will need to pass through an x-ray machine and have your carry-ons scanned, but the process is not as rigorous as at the airport. (You likely won't need to remove your shoes, for example.) Then you'll enter a large open space with roped-off lines and check-in stations. Cruise line staff will be on hand to direct you to the correct line; suite passengers and high-status past-passengers will typically go into a shorter line or separate waiting area, while regular passengers join a main line.

At check-in, you will present your ID and documents for the representative to check you in. You will also be asked to fill out a form stating whether anyone in your party has been sick lately; this is for the cruise lines to guard against norovirus and other illnesses easily spread in confined places. In turn, they will take your picture for security purposes, give you your cruise card (an all-in-one electronic card used as your boarding card, room key and onboard credit card) and give you a schedule of the day's events and possibly a handy map of the ship. Note: Some cruise ships issue wristbands in lieu of cards. Additionally, select Carnival ships operate on a keyless embarkation system, in which passengers can pick up their cards in the mailbox outside their cabin, eliminating the extra step of having them issued in the terminal.

Select cruise ports -- namely PortMiami, Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) and Port Tampa Bay -- have undergone renovations aimed at expediting the embarkation process. PortMiami's Terminal F (operated by MSC Cruises), for example, recently received 60 additional ticket counters, among other upgrades. Other terminals are building in new technology to cut down the wait time. PortMiami's Terminal A will adopt a paperless check-in system as well as digital luggage tracking when Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas arrives in fall 2018. The terminal is designed to host the line's Oasis-class ships. Meanwhile, Port Everglades' Terminal 2 will be equipped with similar technology to host Princess Cruises' Ocean Medallion-class ships.

Can I find food or bathrooms at the cruise terminal?

Terminals will usually have bathrooms for passenger use and might have some juice, coffee or cookies available. Food will always be available once you board the ship, regardless of time.

How do I actually get onto the ship?

Once you have checked in and have your cruise card, you will either follow signs and staff members to board your ship right away, or you'll be directed to a waiting area with instructions on when to board. On your way to the ship, you'll encounter the ship's photographers asking passengers to pose for a picture, often with a backdrop of the ship or a ship's life ring. These photos will be available to purchase onboard, and if you do not want to take one, you can simply say "no, thank you" and pass by.

Once you're cleared to board, you will follow a gangway (elevated ramps) up to the ship. There, crewmembers will typically check you in via your cruise card. You'll likely enter the ship in a public area, such as the main atrium, near elevators and staircases, and crewmembers will be available to point you toward food options or your cabin (if it's open).

Will I have to carry my suitcases with me?

When you arrive at the cruise terminal, porters are available to take your large suitcases and transfer them to the ship. You are not required to hand your bags over, but you'll likely want to do this, as cabins are often not ready when you board, and you'll be left lugging your heavy suitcases with you for a few hours. Have a few small bills ready to tip the porters.

Your luggage should be delivered to your cabin by dinnertime. Because you'll be without your suitcases for several hours, you'll want to pack a carry-on bag with everything you'll need for the first afternoon (such as a swimsuit, change of clothes, camera and cell phone), as well as any important items you cannot lose (medications, ID, etc.).

Is there anything special I need to know about traveling with children?

If you're traveling with kids, warn them in advance about the long lines. Consider bringing snacks or entertainment to keep them busy while you wait.

Related: 9 Tips for Controlling Your Kids on a Cruise

(Video) First Day Working On A Cruiseship | Step by Step Details | What To Expect

If I or one of my traveling companions can't stand for a long period of time, will we still have to wait?

If you, or someone in your party, cannot stand for a long time or walk long distances, you might want to bring a walker with a seat or foldable stool, as procedures vary by terminal, and there might not be expedited boarding or appropriate seating options. Additionally, you might want to request a wheelchair; while some might be available at the port, you are better off alerting your cruise line in advance. (If you require a wheelchair for the entire cruise, you'll need to bring your own or rent one via an agency like Special Needs at Sea.) For more information, check out our article on cruising with a disability.

How can I find out more the first day of my cruise?

You might like the following articles:

The What to Expect on a Cruise series, written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, is a resource guide, where we answer the most common questions about cruise ship life -- including cruise food, cabins, drinks and onboard fun -- as well as money matters before and during your cruise and visiting ports of call on your cruise.

Updated January 08, 2020

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What do you expect in cruise ship? ›

Virtually every cruise ship, large or small, will have bars as well as a theater or lounge with live music, dancing, and magic or comedy shows. Most offer spas and exercise rooms, even some small ships. Bigger and newer ships generally offer much more onboard in terms of venues than their smaller counterparts.

What are your expectations of a life on board the cruise line? ›

Long shifts and extensive working days (12-14 hours a day and 7 days a week). You could suffer from seasickness (nausea, dizziness, etc). The personnel are always on. Although there is a time off, the employee is expected to be ready to work twenty-four hours a day.

What do I need to know before boarding a cruise ship? ›

First Time Cruise Tips
  • Location vs Duration. ...
  • The Right Type of Cruise. ...
  • Be Sure That You Understand What's Covered. ...
  • Follow the Instructions Sent by the Cruise Company Prior to Embarkation. ...
  • Pick The Location of Your Cabin. ...
  • Check Whether Your Travel Insurance Includes Cruise Cover. ...
  • Plan Your Port Days.
29 Apr 2022

How does boarding work on a cruise ship? ›

Cruise line staff will be on hand to direct you to the correct line; suite passengers and high-status past-passengers will typically go into a shorter line or separate waiting area, while regular passengers join a main line. At check-in, you will present your ID and documents for the representative to check you in.

What are the things we should know before going on a cruise? ›

15 First Time Cruise Tips
  • Research Your Ports in Advance. ...
  • Don't Tip Double on Alcohol. ...
  • Pack With Space in Mind (and Consider Only a Carry-On) ...
  • Take Yourself on a Ship Tour on Embarkation Day. ...
  • Board Your Ship As Soon As You Can on Embarkation Day. ...
  • Pick a Cabin That Works for Your Cruise Needs.

How do you feel in cruise ship? ›

Among the most common reasons people give for not taking a cruise vacation is seasickness. While it's true that you're on a moving ship, it's nothing like going on your friend's fishing boat: the movements are slow and much less pronounced. On newer ships you often don't even feel like they're moving.

What was life like on board a ship? ›

Life at sea during the age of sail was filled with hardship. Sailors had to accept cramped conditions, disease, poor food and pay, and bad weather. Over a period of hundreds of years, seafarers from the age of the early explorers to the time of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, shared many common experiences.

What challenges do you think you will face onboard? ›

Here are some of the biggest challenges managers face when bringing new starters onboard and how to deal with those problems.
  • Welcoming your new hire. ...
  • Discovering the new workplace. ...
  • Meeting the family. ...
  • Understanding your culture. ...
  • High expectations. ...
  • Challenges with interdepartmental co-operation. ...
  • Acting lawfully.

What is the most important part of a cruise ship? ›

They want to eat better than they do at home, receive better service than they typically do in their day to day life, and want to be comfortable. Dining, cabins and service are the three pillars of the cruise experience, and if they're not done right, the rest doesn't matter.

What do you wear when boarding a cruise? ›

Casual attire is welcome on board – you are on vacation after all. While the days of dedicated “formal nights” in the main dining room have since sailed, one of the most pressing questions for first-time cruisers remains: “how formal is formal?” The answer: it's up to you!

What should you do before embarkation? ›

Here's everything you should know about embarkation day:
  1. Check-In Online the Day Before. ...
  2. Don't Arrive Late. ...
  3. Have All Necessary Documents on Hand. ...
  4. Check Your Bags with a Porter. ...
  5. Don't Forget to Pack a Small Carry-on Bag. ...
  6. Stay Hydrated. ...
  7. Don't Forget Lunch. ...
  8. Take Lots of Photos.

What does boarding a ship mean? ›

(bɔːʳd ) Explore 'board' in the dictionary. verb. When you board a train, ship, or aircraft, you get on it in order to travel somewhere.

How do you board a ship? ›

The process of boarding a boat begins well before you reach the dock.
  1. Check Your Shoes. ...
  2. Make Sure the Boat Is Close to the Pier. ...
  3. Place Provisions on the Pier. ...
  4. Ask Permission. ...
  5. Locate the Shrouds or Rails. ...
  6. Getting Onto the Boat Safely. ...
  7. Stepping Into the Hull. ...
  8. Assist the Crew.
26 Oct 2021

What is security like boarding a cruise ship? ›

Go through security.

When you enter the terminal, you'll go through an airport-style security screening before you board the cruise ship. Your carry-on bags will be screened and you'll walk through a metal detector, but unlike an airport, you may also be asked to fill out a health questionnaire.

What should you not forget to take on a cruise? ›

15 Things NOT to Forget to Pack for a Cruise
  • Sweater or Light Jacket. This one is most important for the ladies. ...
  • Emergency Contact List. ...
  • Identification. ...
  • Medication. ...
  • Prepackaged Snacks. ...
  • Power Strip. ...
  • Reusable Water Bottle. ...
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes.
5 Oct 2020

Where do you feel the most motion on a cruise ship? ›

Cabin Choice

This is because of the way the boat is engineered. The lower you are, and more towards the middle of the ship, you will not feel it as much. Cabins at the front and back of the ship tend to sway the most, so you want to avoid any rooms in these areas.

How much motion do you feel on a cruise ship? ›

If the sea is flat you will feel no movement at all. You can't get seasick on a river cruise. Cruise ships can easily handle waves that are over 12 feet high. However, with waves of this height, you may begin to feel the ship rock and if you're prone to seasickness you may start to look for relief.

Where do you feel more movement on a cruise? ›

Best Cruise Ship Cabins for Motion Sensitivity

You want to be as close to the pivot point as possible to feel the least movement. Avoid cabins near the front (bow) or back (stern) and on decks higher than the middle deck of the ship. So, on a ship with fourteen passenger decks, your best options are below deck seven.

What is the first and most important thing you should do when you board the ship? ›

Exchange Contact details with your Family

This is the most basic and essential thing a mariner has to do before joining a ship. Give all your contact details including your ship's email address and phone number (calling on the later would be expensive but it's always handy for emergencies) to your loved ones.

What is the most important thing on a ship? ›

  • It is a mechanical device having blades fitted on a central shaft. ...
  • Engine, shaft and propeller together constitute propulsion unit. ...
  • It is the most important part of the ship without which a ship can't move.
12 Jul 2021

Why do you want to work in cruise ship answer? ›

One of the main reasons people choose to work on cruise ships is the chance to travel to many places they might not otherwise have the opportunity to see. Since they live on the ship, they receive room and board as part of their compensation. They travel the world without paying for expensive hotels and food.

How do you answer what challenges do you expect to face? ›

How to answer "What is the biggest challenge you've faced in work?"
  1. Consider previous challenges you've faced. ...
  2. Tailor your answer to the job description. ...
  3. Be specific about why they were challenges. ...
  4. Be honest. ...
  5. Make sure your answers present you in a positive light. ...
  6. Use nonprofessional examples if necessary.

How do you answer what challenges are you looking for? ›

How to answer, "What challenges are you looking for?"
  1. Think about your goals. ...
  2. Consider which challenges can help you accomplish your goals. ...
  3. Evaluate any weaknesses you have. ...
  4. Decide what interests you about a position. ...
  5. Deliver an answer that considers your professional goals, weaknesses and interests.

What is the biggest challenge you would face in this role answer? ›

For example, you could say: “the biggest challenge will be getting to know the members of the team. I'm used to working with a large and diverse team and thrive on finding the best in my colleagues.” Or: “the biggest challenge in this job is keeping pace with technological change in this industry.

Which floor is best on a cruise ship? ›

The lower and more central you are in a ship, the less roll and sway you will feel. Even if you choose a balcony room, choose a low level and a room closest to the ship's center. The higher decks and cabins at the front (forward) or back (aft) of the ship will rock and roll the most.

Which deck is better on a cruise ship? ›

The higher the deck, the better and, often, more panoramic the view. Cabins on top decks aren't always the best on the ship, but many suites and specialty cabin categories are typically located on upper decks.

How would you walk on board a ship? ›

Trail the strongest of the two hands underneath the handrail behind yourself and turning the body slightly towards this hand when walking down. If the person falls, the trailing handgrip can prevent a serious injury.

Do you carry a purse on a cruise? ›

Bring a small purse to hold your cruise card and camera when walking around the ship. I always like to have my camera with me so carrying a small purse means I don't have to always have it in hand.

What happens on cruise embarkation day? ›

What is embarkation day? Embarkation day is the first day of your cruise. It's the day you arrive at the cruise terminal to embark on your vacation. Disembarkation, similarly, is the last day of your cruise, when you disembark from the ship, whether you're staying an extra day in port or catching a flight back home.

Do cruises look through your luggage? ›

Just like the security screening at an airport, we also screen all luggage our guests bring onboard to ensure everyone's safety. If there is an item in your luggage that is prohibited or is believed to be prohibited, your bag will be taken to a screening location and will be inspected by our Security Team onboard.

How much money should you bring on a cruise? ›

As a general rule, plan to have $50 to $100 each day in the local currency. Also, you may want to bring an extra $20 a day for tipping crew members. Make sure to include smaller bills for tips. Fifty to a hundred dollars a day should be enough to cover small purchases, tips and snacks at each port.

What do I need to bring on a cruise ship? ›

What to Pack for a Cruise
  1. Bring activity-appropriate clothing and shoes. ...
  2. Bring a Back Pack or Beach Tote. ...
  3. Bring Sunscreen and After-Sun Lotion. ...
  4. Bring Your Own Toiletries. ...
  5. Bring Medications for Upset Stomach and Motion Sickness. ...
  6. Bring an Underwater Camera. ...
  7. Bring Cash for Tipping. ...
  8. Bring a Portable Back Up Battery Charger.

How many bags are you allowed to take on a cruise? ›

On cruises of 6 days or longer, no more than two bags, per person. Each checked bag and carry-on bag should not weigh more than 50 pounds and, when lying flat, bags must not exceed 16 inches high, by 24 inches wide (the length of the bag is not a factor). For security screening purposes, all luggage should be unlocked.

What do you do with your luggage on embarkation day? ›

As passengers arrive at the embarkation port, porters are waiting to collect their bags. So, drop your heavy luggage and while bag drop is free, remember to tip the porters. The porters work for the port authority, not the cruise line. It's suggested a dollar or two per piece is sufficient.

What happens during embarkation? ›

What is embarkation? Simply put, embarkation is the process of getting on your ship – it's the cruising equivalent of boarding a plane! While the embarkation procedure may vary slightly between the different cruise lines, it will fundamentally remain the same and require you to have similar documents to hand.

What does boarding mean? ›

Definitions of boarding. the act of passengers and crew getting aboard a ship or aircraft. synonyms: embarkation, embarkment. Antonyms: debarkation, disembarkation, disembarkment. the act of passengers and crew getting off of a ship or aircraft.

How long does it take to board a cruise ship? ›

In general, expect to spend about 15 minutes on the boarding process if lines are short (usually when boarding later), or at most about 45-60 minutes if lines are long (usually when boarding earlier). When you arrive to the cruise port can make a big difference in how long you'll wait to board.

What is used to board a ship? ›

Modern shipping uses gangways to embark and disembark passengers.

Why is safety important on board the ship? ›

Whose purpose is to ensure Safety of life at Sea (SOLAS), to prevent human injury or loss of life, and to avoid damage to the environment and the ship. Personal safety or safety of life at sea comes at the top of the priority list as there is no loss that is considered greater than the loss of human life.

Do cruise ships have cameras in the rooms? ›

While most, if not all, cruise ships already have video cameras in place, the newly proposed rules stipulate that the vessel's surveillance system must cover all areas of the ship where passengers or crewmembers have common access. (This rule excludes staterooms and crew cabins.)

What is the best time to board a cruise ship? ›

So some people like to get to the port around 1:00 pm or a little later because by then most of the lines have died down and you can usually just get right on the ship after a brief wait. If you get there right at noon then you can expect some delays ahead of you.

What interests you the most about working on a cruise ship? ›

One of the main reasons people choose to work on cruise ships is the chance to travel to many places they might not otherwise have the opportunity to see. Since they live on the ship, they receive room and board as part of their compensation. They travel the world without paying for expensive hotels and food.

Why do people choose cruise ships? ›

On a cruise, you can see the world, unwind completely, experience diverse cultures, dance the night away, feast on fabulous cuisine, learn new skills, make new friends and bond with your family. The possibilities are endless, and the benefits are plentiful…

How do you pass a cruise ship interview? ›

10 Tips to Help You Prepare for a Cruise Ship Interview
  1. Be ready for a virtual interview. ...
  2. Read through your CV. ...
  3. Brush up on your knowledge. ...
  4. Do some self-reflection. ...
  5. Research the cruise line. ...
  6. Dress appropriately. ...
  7. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and energy. ...
  8. Prepare for common questions.
18 Mar 2021

Why should we hire you answer best? ›

Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.

What are the five reasons why people go on a cruise? ›

Romance, variety, reunions, new experiences, and simplicity also rank high on the list of reasons for choosing a cruise vacation. No matter the reason for choosing one, a cruise is a great value, offering relaxation and fun in a family-friendly atmosphere with good food and entertainment all in one unique location.

What are five reasons people go on a cruise? ›

  • A Cruise Vacation Offers Great Value. ...
  • See Multiple Destinations, Unpack Only Once. ...
  • Cruise Ships Are Family Friendly. ...
  • Cruise Ships Come in All Shapes and Sizes. ...
  • Ships Offer a Variety of Onboard Activities. ...
  • Cruise Vacations Are Easy to Plan. ...
  • Ships Are Floating Cities. ...
  • Cruise Vacations Can Be Exotic.

What are the benefits of cruising? ›

  • #1: A Cruise Vacation Offers Great Value.
  • #2: See Multiple Destinations, Unpack Only Once.
  • #3: Cruise Ships are Family Friendly.
  • #4: Cruise Ships Come in All Shapes and Sizes.
  • #5: Ships Offer a Variety of Onboard Activities.
  • #6: Cruise Vacations are Easy to Plan.
  • #7: Ships Are Floating Cities.
  • #8: Plan an Exotic Vacation.


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