First cruise – what to expect

A shipboard cruise, whilst not available on doctor’s prescription, may be just what a jaded soul may need.

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Embarkation

Depending on the efficiency of both the cruise company and the port authorities, this can take anywhere from an hour to three hours.  If you are going out of the sovereign territory of the country you are departing from, you will need your passport.  Where your final destination is a different county, you will need to provide proof of return at the passport control departure point.

Baggage

Unless you have a spacious stateroom, we recommend taking one compact suitcase.  Space is usually at a premium in cabins and you would want it to take up as little room as possible.  At embarkation, your luggage will be checked in and you will see it again once on board.  It will be outside your door, usually within an hour of being on board.

On board account activation

Once on board, before you can buy anything (even a drink of water on some ships), you will need to have activated your account.  On most cruises, you will be given a key card to your room that is also linked to your account.  You will use this card for all transaction on board.  They will require a minimum deposit to activate and should you run out, it can be topped up with cash or linked to your credit card.  Our suggestion is cash, as a credit card authorisation will be taken and then the actual amount taken at the end of the cruise.  The initial authority, though, will take several weeks too reflect back on your account, depending which bank you’re with.

Emergency drill

This is performed on all ships and in most cases on the first or second day of the cruise.  There will be a lifejacket in your cabin which will indicate which muster station you need to report too.  A sign of good staff knowledge of emergencies, is that any staff member should be able to help direct you.  It will be announced that it is just a drill and not a genuine emergency.  It is compulsory for all passengers to attend.  After all, should the unthinkable come to pass, better to be prepared.

During this drill, you may also be shown what to do in a case of ‘man overboard!’.  Our best advice on this – don’t be the man or woman overboard!

On board entertainment

Many cruises offer a specific program that you can follow to the letter if you wish to be occupied most of the day and night.  Depending of the nature of the cruise, the entertainment may be repeated on a weekly cycle.  If you are on a short cruise – no problem.

Such down-to-earth activities such as walking the promenade decks can be quite lovely at sunset or when coming into port and will provide an outlet for the energy gained from the high intakes of delicious food, common to cruises.

On board a cruise recently, we entertained ourselves by obtaining a game of Scrabble from the reception at a deposit of US15 which was refunded on return of the game.

Disembarkation

This usually takes a lot quicker than embarkation!  You will be given a coloured label for your baggage and be directed to a certain area of the ship in groups, before disembarking.  Your baggage will need to be ready outside your door, with labels attached, the night before disembarkation.

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