If you are a first time cruiser, then things may get overwhelming when it comes time to debark. Two thousand people or more leaving the ship, two thousand or more waiting to board. In addition to all of this, porters are moving luggage to and from the ship, taxis, buses, and limos are coming and going. The whole place seems to be a madhouse. If you know what is happening, and where to go, the process will be much less overwhelming.
Getting To the Terminal
First of all, you will need to get to the cruise terminal. You will probably be arriving in one of three ways. You will either arrange for transportation through the cruise line, you will take a limo or taxi from the hotel or airport, or you will be driving your own vehicle to the terminal. In all three cases, you will want to have your luggage properly tagged. When you book your cruise online, you can print off luggage tags to attach to your luggage before you get to the cruise terminal. These tags will have your cabin number, so the crew will know where to deliver your luggage.
If you have arranged transportation with the cruise line, you will be taking a bus from the airport. You will leave your luggage with the cruise line’s representative at the airport, or in the luggage bay of the bus. Either way, you will want to make sure your luggage is properly tagged, so it will be delivered to your room. Make sure that you have all your necessary paperwork with you or in your carry-on luggage, because you won’t see your checked luggage until later in the evening.
If you are driving your own vehicle, or taking a taxi or limo to the cruise terminal, you will be taking your luggage with you to the pier. In this case, when you get to the pier, you will be giving your luggage to the porters to load onto the ship. Again, you want to be sure that you have all of the necessary paperwork to board the ship, and you want to have your luggage properly tagged. Okay, so you’re at the pier, and your luggage is on its way onto the ship. Now, it’s time for you to check in.
To check in, you will need your paperwork. When you book your cruise, the cruise line will give you what amounts to a boarding pass, which will have your cabin number and other information on it. You will need this to check in, along with your passport and proper ID. You can contact the cruise line to find out exactly what paperwork you will need. The first thing you’ll do is go through a security checkpoint, much like at the airport. Your carry-on luggage will go through the x-ray, while you go through a metal detector.
Next, you’ll be checking in. At this point, you will be given a card, which you will use in several ways on the cruise. It serves as your room key, and you will use it for any onboard purchases. Any money you spend on the card will be drawn from your bank or credit card account, or you can deposit cash in an account for the card to draw from. The card will also be used when you enter and leave the ship. Your card will also have important information on it, such as the table that you’ll be sitting at for dinner, and your muster station in case of emergency.
Once you’ve checked in, you will board the ship. You will have two pictures taken, one of them is mandatory, and one is optional. You will need to have your picture taken once for security purposes. When you board and leave the ship, you will insert your card into a card reader, which will display your photo to security personnel. The second picture is a boarding photo, which you may purchase once the cruise has started.
So, now you’re on the ship. You can head up to the buffet for lunch, or just explore the ship until your room is ready. At some point before the ship leaves, you will have to go to a lifeboat drill. When the announcement comes over the PA system, take a look at your card, and find your muster station. Proceed to that part of the ship, and you will be instructed what to do in case of an emergency. Soon after the lifeboat drill, the ship will leave port, and all that is left for you to do, is to enjoy the cruise.