The long awaited day has arrived and you set foot on the deck of the ship that will be your home for the next week, ten days, two weeks. What do you do to get your cruise started off on the right foot? We have been on 52 cruises as I write this and in doing so have pretty much established a routine. You may not want to do what we do but here are some suggestions you might want to consider.
If you board any time before one in the afternoon, chances are your stateroom will not be ready. Most likely you will be directed to the buffet which will be the busiest place on the ship. A good alternative is to look for the grill or the place where the pizza is made. It will be less crazy and you can relax with your lunch usually on a back deck or next to the pool.
Beware of the fancy drinks in the souvenir glasses. You're paying extra for the glass and you really don't want to have to pack that baby when there are so many other nice souvenirs to get along the way. Instead get yourself something to drink you know you will enjoy or try the fancy drink in a less fancy glass. It is available if you insist.
As soon as you can get to your room to drop your carry-ons, take a picture of your room while it's still pristine and check out the day's activities you will find on the ship's newsletter that should be on your bed or desk in your room. Then take some time to explore the ship. We like to start at the top (taking the elevator up) and then walking the length of the ship on each deck with public areas and going down the steps to the next. I look at it as using up calories to justify dessert at dinner.
If you are going to want a night or two in the specialty restaurants and haven't already booked ahead online, do so now. It's easier to cancel than it is to try to get a reservation once the ship is on its way. The same applies to those spa and beauty appointments you might want.
You will almost certainly be inundated with opportunities to buy a soda card, a wine package, and perhaps a coffee card if the ship has a special coffee shop. They can be good bargains if you consume enough. We have always found that the soda card doesn't work for us. There's no way we can drink enough diet Coke to justify the cost. Some, especially those with children on board may find it feasible for them.
Take time to find the internet lab and look at the packages available to you. Many cruise lines offer sail away specials. Be sure to check out my post on using the internet efficiently. And while we are on the topic, you might want to turn off your data roaming on your phone or you may find your next bill higher than you like.
Don't miss the emergency drill. It is mandatory on all ships no matter how many times you have sailed. It has gotten a little nicer now that most cruise lines don't require you to wear your life jacket to the drill. Too many people were tripping on the straps after taking them off to return to their rooms.
The first night is always casual in the dining room so unless you really need a lot of time to get ready for dinner, watch the sail away and enjoy the party. Fort Lauderdale is an especially fun sail away. As you pass the high rise condos along the channel people wave arms and flags from balconies and blow air horns.
That sounds like a lot but really doesn't take all that long. Chose what you think will help you but don't stress out trying to do it all. This is supposed to be relaxing. So relax! I remember the first cruise we took. We thought we had to do it all and came home more tired than
when we left. We've learned to chill--a lot.