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11 Rookie Mistakes that will Ruin Your Cruise Embarkation Day

Are you going on a cruise soon? Whether this is your first cruise, or you’ve been on several cruises, there are many common embarkation day mistakes that could ruin your day. To make sure you have a smooth first day, here are the top embarkation day mistakes to avoid. Trust me, you don’t want to make these mistakes! I’m also sharing my cruise carry-on bag packing list as a free printable below.

Cruise Embarkation Day Mistakes to Avoid

1. Not Printing Your Luggage Tags

One common mistake that first-time cruisers make is that they forget to print their luggage tags before going on the cruise. This can lead to a lot of unnecessary hassle because you’ll have to fill out luggage tags manually at the cruise port. 

Usually, the cruise port provides porters to take your luggage for check-in. But without your tags, they will not be able to do so. 

Filling out the tags manually can be a stressful experience since you will have to look up your stateroom number. On some cruise lines, such as Princess, you may also need to provide the Luggage Door/Deck number. This can easily become a daunting task, especially when you are in a hurry to board the ship and are trying to find your confirmation documents. To avoid this unnecessary stress, it is best to print your luggage tags ahead of time and attach them to your suitcases.

Cruise Embarkation Day Mistakes

2. Expired Passport

One common mistake people make when they go on a cruise is not checking their passport expiration date. If your passport has expired or is close to expiration within six months, the cruise line may deny you boarding. 

Most cruise lines require that your passport remains valid for at least six months after the cruise. To avoid complications and the possibility of being denied boarding, it’s important that your passport is not expired. 

You should also check the expiration of other travel documents like your resident alien card (green card) to make sure that it is not expired or approaching expiration.

3. Arriving on the Day of Embarkation

I know many people may be tempted to arrive on the day of embarkation, thinking that they have plenty of time to get from the airport to the cruise port since the ship doesn’t sail until 4 pm, right? But, this is a risky move because a lot can go wrong. 

Your flight can get delayed or canceled, which means you might miss your ship. Flight cancellations and delays have become increasingly common these days. Plus if you’re traveling in Europe, airports can shut down due to strikes. 

To avoid these risks, it’s best to arrive the night before and spend the night at a nearby cruise port hotel. This way, you can board the ship the following day, feeling calmer and less stressed.

4. Not Booking a Car in Advance

It’s a common mistake for first-time cruisers not to book a car in advance to get to the cruise port. They think they can just wing it and get a taxi or Uber to the port. 

But if you’re staying at a hotel near the cruise port, it’s likely that many other guests will also be heading to the same port at the same time. This means that if you haven’t pre-booked your ride, you’ll find yourself competing with others for the same taxi or Uber.

My suggestion is to book your ride to the cruise port ahead of time instead of trying to wing it that morning and scrambling to find a ride. By doing so, you’ll avoid the hassle of waiting and arrive at the port on time and stress-free.

5. Online Check-In

Newbie cruisers often make the common mistake of not completing their online check-in, which can result in a delay in the boarding process. This delay can be avoided by completing the online check-in in advance. 

By checking in online, you will have printed your luggage tags and added all your information to the cruise line’s system. But if you didn’t complete the online check-in, the cruise staff will have to enter all your information manually at the cruise port check-in, causing a delay in the boarding process. 

Instead of enjoying starting your vacation on the ship, you will find yourself standing at the check-in counter, waiting for a long time to be checked in! 

Cruise Embarkation Day Mistakes

6. Lunch at the Buffet on Embarkation Day

Don’t make the mistake of rushing straight to the buffet for lunch on the first day of your cruise. It’s where everyone tends to go, making it the most crowded place on the ship! 

You’ll have to deal with chaos, long lines, and limited tables at the buffet. Instead, head to one of the dining rooms to enjoy a calmer lunch experience. You might also find other smaller cafes or restaurants open on embarkation day. Just ask the cruise staff. This way, you can have a more relaxed and less hectic meal. Save the buffet for another day!

7. Taking the Elevator on Embarkation Day

One common mistake that rookie cruisers make on embarkation day is that they rush straight to the elevator. Instead of joining the throngs of people waiting for the elevator, I suggest taking the stairs if your carry-on bag is manageable. 

The elevators are the most congested area on a cruise ship on embarkation day, with long lines and stops on every floor. Plus, if you’re traveling with a group, it will be impossible to get everyone on the same elevator. Save yourself the hassle and take the stairs instead!

8. No Minor Travel Consent 

It’s important to keep in mind that if you’re traveling with a minor who is not accompanied by their parents, you’ll need to complete a minor travel consent form before boarding the ship. This is especially important if you’re taking your grandchild on a cruise without their parents. Failure to complete the form could result in delays during the boarding process, so be sure to check with your cruise line to see what forms are required.

9. Leaving Your Passport in Your Check In Luggage

Don’t make the rookie mistake of leaving your passport, credit card, and other crucial travel documents in your checked luggage! Once you hand your luggage over to a porter, it can be quite difficult to track down if you need access to those important documents. 

To avoid any delays during check-in at the cruise port, keep your travel documents and wallet with you in your carry-on bag. This way, you’ll have everything you need within reach.

10. Not Packing a Carry-on Bag

It’s a common mistake for newbie cruisers not to realize that once they check in their luggage, they won’t have access to it until later in the afternoon or early evening. As a result, they often forget to pack items they need immediately such as toiletries, toys, devices, and medications. 

To avoid waiting for your checked luggage to be delivered, it’s best to pack a carry-on bag with all your essentials. I suggest using a small roller bag as your carry on bag.

Make sure to pack essential items like toiletries, medications, toys/devices for kids, and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag. If you’re heading to a warm weather cruise destination like the Caribbean or Mexico, you may also want to pack your bathing suit, goggles, and sunscreen so you can take a dip in the pool or lounge poolside as soon as you board the ship!

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11. Bringing Prohibited Items on the Cruise

It’s common for newbie cruisers to make the mistake of bringing prohibited items on the ship. To avoid any delays in the boarding process, you should carefully review your cruise line’s policy on what items are allowed and what are not. 

Bringing prohibited items on board can cause unnecessary delays that can easily be avoided with a little bit of prior research. Some of the commonly restricted items include hair dryers, extension cords, and liquor. 

It is important to note that different cruise lines have different policies regarding alcohol. For example, some cruise lines allow a bottle of wine or champagne per person, while others allow two bottles. To make sure that you’re fully aware of your cruise line’s policies, it’s always better to check with them before boarding the cruise.

Free Cruise Carry On Bag Packing List

Get Your Free Cruise Carry-On Bag Packing List

Sign up once and you will get access to ALL exclusive content on this website. After unlocking the printable, just save the printable image and then print it. Use it as a checklist to pack your carry-on bag so you don’t forget anything! I hope you like it!

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