First Day Of Your Cruise 15 Tips Not To Miss


What should you do and not do on the first day of your cruise? If it is your first time cruising with kids, look at these mistakes to avoid and must-haves on the first day of your cruise. The embarkation day of your cruise is important, and there are things you will not want to miss or forget to book once onboard.

People that have been cruising for years are pros at embarkation day. Some cruisers make a beeline for the bar some go straight to the pool, and others like to explore the ship.

Read these tips on everything you need to know about your first day onboard a cruise ship. This is a guide for all first-time cruisers on embarkation day. In these cruise tips we will discover what to do, where to go and what to take on the first day of your cruise embarkation.

When its your first cruise information can differ with different cruise lines especially now there are more health measures being put in place. Most things will still remain the same but may be slightly altered such as the Muster drill and cruise check in. Always do your online check in and check with your cruiseline any new COVID policy measures for check in that have been put in place.

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Take a look at our embarkation day tips for travelling with children

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What you must do and not do on the first day of your cruise tips for the first-time cruiser in 2023 -2024

Check the COVID policy before you arrive!

Before you start cruise lines now have a covid policy page, and you may require vaccinations, PCR tests or a lateral flow test port prior to boarding. It is your responsibility to find out exactly what’s needed and meet the requirements before boarding or you will be denied boarding. All cruise lines have a covid policy page which details exactly what is required.

As you embark at the cruise terminal, you will be asked to fill out a health Questionnaire and your baggage and suitcases will be taken from you. Make sure you have secured your luggage tags and keep your carry-on bag with you.

Have Lunch in the main dining room on the first day of your cruise

Do go and eat lunch when you embark, don’t head to the buffet if you can help it. The buffets are very busy on embarkation day; you are on holiday so are there to relax. The main dining rooms are normally open for lunch on embarkation day and sea days. Our favourite thing to do when we board is to head to the main dining room restaurant and have a delightful three course lunch. Don’t worry about the children they are always well catered for.

Book your speciality restaurants.

Embarkation day is a good time to book your speciality dining if you have not already pre-booked them. Some cruise ship restaurants are more popular than others.  You can also head to the desk and make any reservations for my time dining for the rest of the week. To avoid disappointment head to the specialty restaurants to peruse the menu and get in early. Some cruise lines also offer drink packages and dining packages.

Have you tried a Royal Caribbean speciality restaurant? Royal Caribbeans Wonderland restaurant is a totally different  concept in dining on a cruise. The Wonderland speciality restaurant is a take on Alices adventures in a toasty turvy world and is aimed at people of all ages including children. The whole atmosphere is magical from start to finish. Book your speciality restaurants on the first day of your cruise

Take a dip! Make sure you have a bag for around by the pool!

Take a dip on your first day on a cruise ship as the pools can be less busy. Be sure to pack a small separate carry-on bag with you. In this you will need;

  • A rucksack or carry-on bag
  • Swimwear
  • Suncream
  • Any medication you need
  • Spare clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Toys for children to play with

Check out this cruise packing guide for families

Check out where your main dining room table is

You are allocated a table in the main dining room. It is a good idea to check where it is before you go to dinner 0n your first evening. Doing this can enable you to make any changes if need be. If you have any dietary requirements now is a good time to check these are in place too. Head to the main dining room to do this. This is also a good time to confirm any dietary restrictions or requirements you have.

Pick up a daily planner.

Plan your day with the daily planner. You can pick up a daily planner at reception or have one on your bed if your cabin is open. Plan what you want to do on your first day onboard your ship with its list of daily activities and opening times.

Book your Spa treatment.

Spa treatments get booked up it is a good idea to book your treatment on the first day of your cruise. Head to the Spa area to see what spa treatments are available.

Explore the Ship

The First day of your cruise is a good time to explore this ship. Grab a ship guide and explore the whole ship from top to bottom. Cruise ships can be very large so it is a good idea. This is also good if you need to sign up for kids’ clubs and other activities.

Royal Caribbean carousel onboard Symphony of the Seas

Attend the Muster drill.

The muster drill is an obligatory drill you must attend on the first day of your cruise. A muster drill is a mandatory safety exercise for all guests and crew to advise on safety precautions in the unlikely event of an emergency. You will have instructions on how to do this in your stateroom. If you are in any doubt head to a corridor at the time of the muster drill and you will be escorted to your muster drill point by a stateroom attendant or crew member.

Now the muster drills are mostly done in your stateroom. You will be asked to watch a video which takes you through where the lifeboats are, your muster station and what to do in an emergency. You must then register your attendance. This is mandatory.

Sign your children up for the kids club.

You will need to sign up your children for the kids club on the first day of your cruise. Now there are strict policies in place, and you may have to pre-book your children’s session which can be limited due to social distancing. If you sign up the children straight away they can attend the kids club and join in all of the children’s activities throughout your cruise.

You will also need to make sure your children have a muster station wristband advising which muster station they are meant to attend if they are not in your care at the time.

Sign up at the kids club desk on the first day of embarkation and grab a muster wristband here also if you do not have one.

MSC Bellissima Kids club  sign up on the first day of your cruise to the Mini Duplo lego Room

Check out the shore excursion desk.

Have you booked a shore excursion? If you haven’t now is a good time to book one on the first day of your cruise. Peruse the cruise excursion activities booklet and book some days off of the ship with the kids at the excursion desk.

Join the Sail Away party

Most ships enjoy a sail away party on embarkation day. The sail away party is usually up on deck where you can grab a cocktail and dance as your ship pulls out of the port. There is usually music and entertainment at the sail away so it is something you may not want to miss and fun for all the family. Almost every cruise ship has a sail away party on the top deck where you can drink and dance before you set sail. You can find details of this on your planner.

Sort out your drinks package.

If you haven’t already purchased your drinks package now is a good time to arrange one. The first day of your cruise is usually the only time other than before you board that you can boo a drinks package at a discounted price. You can normally book a package on the promenade deck, at a bar or reception. Some cruise lines may differ so check your planner.

Grab a welcome cocktail.

Often as you first are welcomed onboard cruise lines offer a welcome cocktail. Look out for your welcome cocktail when you first get onboard. They are often at guest relations in the promenade area.

Download the cruise app if there is one.

Many cruise lines have a cruise app. Download the cruise line app for your cruise. You can book many different activities and shows and see any cruise credits.

Set up a group meeting point. 

Set up a group meeting point once you are onboard. If you lose your relatives or when you are out at sea you make have no phone signal. Set up a meeting point so you can regroup when needed. 

Put your phone on Airplane mode.

You do not want to be caught out by hooking up to the ship’s maritime phone signal. This could cost you a small fortune! Turn off your cell phone as soon as you start sailing. Sign up for the wifi instead to keep in contact with your loved ones.

Unpack and put items in your safe

When your luggage has been sent to your cabin now is the time to unpack. Put your valuables such as credit cards and passports in your safe.

Thank you for reading do’s and dont’s of the first day of your cruise

D x

15 must do tips for your first day on a cruise ship


  • Donna Vallance

    Donna loves cruising with her husband and two teenage boys. Having cruised with the children from a young age she feels it is the perfect way to experience the world safely. Her boys are social butterfly’s and love meeting other children their own age whilst onboard some of the most extraordinary floating ships. She also writes over at Like Love Do, a travel memoir of her trips, from London to far off beaches. She has an eye for the unusual and like to go off of the beaten track just to find the perfect photo. With a passion for photography and exploring cruising has become the perfect holiday choice.

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