What to expect for first-time cruisers

One of our very own Swimco Experts just returned from her first cruise! After an amazing time in Italy, Spain, and France, she’s sharing her experiences so you know what to expect your first time at sea.
First day aboard

  • Most cruise lines have boarding around noon. After arriving at port, you’ll drop off luggage at the terminal, and check-in. Suitcases are brought to your stateroom later, so keep any items you’ll need that day with you in a carry-on bag. Need help packing? Check out our cruise packing checklist.
  • Check-in will be similar to checking in at a hotel. You’ll be asked for your documents and forms, and be provided with your stateroom card key, plus activity schedules and a map of your ship.
  • The stateroom card key is important! It is the key to your room and checks you into activities, dining areas. This card is also required to get off and then return to the ship on port days. You are able to link credit card info to the key, so you can roam around the ship wallet-free!
  • There is a mandatory muster drill, which is a safety demonstration of an evacuation. Make sure you find out when and where that is as soon as you board so you don’t miss it.
  • On arrival day you’ll have lots of time to explore your cruise ship. Take advantage of this day to get well acquainted with your ship’s layout and amenities. You can also use this time to make reservations for dinner and other activities.
  • During your cruise

  • During the voyage your time can be as packed with activities or as relaxed as you’d like! Cruise lines will have many offerings like live shows, lectures, games, and fitness programs to keep you entertained. There’s something for everyone!
  • Read your ship’s daily schedule, and make reservations where required so you don’t miss out.
  • For kids and teens, ships will also often have kids’ programs and teen hangout areas, so parents get some free time while their kids are supervised.
  • Cruise ships will often offer excursion packages for passengers on port days. You may find it more economical to plan yourself or book with third-party companies. Doing research ahead of time will really help you maximize port days.
  • Now that you know what to expect, learn how to get the most from your cruise. Happy sailing!

    Cheryl, Swimco Buyer

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    Styles vary by location.