First Day Cruise Ideas

20 Things to Do on the First Day of Your Cruise

in Cruise Tips

Ideas for things to do after boarding

You’ve made it through the embarkation process and finally boarded the boat.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed with options on the first day of your vacation. Boarding hours are usually between 11 AM to 2:30 PM on most cruise lines, depending on the scheduled departure time.  Keep in mind that your cabin and luggage may not be available for hours after you board, so make sure to pack your boarding bag accordingly. Here are 20 first day cruise ideas for you to consider:

  1. Eat Lunch
    Since the embarkation times overlap with the lunch rush, you may be hungry by the time you get through security and check-in.  Most cruise ships open up their main lunch buffet for guests.  Keep in mind that the buffet is often crowded for this reason, so if there’s another restaurant open on board – consider trying it instead.
  1. Take a Tour
    While you won’t be allowed in the cabin room areas until they’ve been cleaned, there is plenty to see.  For those who want a walk-through, there is often a guided tour of the ship offered.  Alternately, you can use the deck maps and set out exploring on your own.
  1. Pose for Some Pictures
    Since the cruise is less crowded, the first day is often the best time to get some photos taken around the ship.  Just try to stay off the main pathways.
  1. Share Your Special Dining Requests
    If you have food allergies or other special dining needs, its usually best to make them the first day that you board.  Usually, you can speak with the headwaiter or dining room host to set this up.  If you follow a kosher or halal diet, make sure you know what you’ll be getting before you book!
  1. Make Reservations
    You can make reservations for the spa, specialty restaurants, and shows.  Some cruises let you book these before you board, but many will make you wait until you are checked-in before allowing this.  Keep in mind that offerings during the ship’s Days at Sea often fill up first and fast.
  1. Schedule Shore Excursions
    If you didn’t do it already online, you can change or schedule an excursion after you board.  The shore excursion desk is typically located near the guest services on a cruise ship.  Lines can be long for this on the first day.
  1. Visit the Children’s Club
    There is usually a free open house at the kids’ club onboard on the first day, it lets your kids check it out before you officially register.  The clubs are typically complimentary, but require a one-time registration.  This is also a great chance for them to meet other cruising kids in their age group.
  1. Go for a swim
    The pools are practically empty on the first day.  That makes it the perfect time to go for a dip.  This goes double for the hot tubs.  Many people don’t want to get wet before they get their luggage, but if you’ve planned ahead properly, that shouldn’t be a problem for you. Towels are available for rental, so just make sure you pack your swimsuit in your boarding bag.
  2. Start Sunbathing
    |The pools aren’t the only thing empty on the first day.  Loungers everywhere are available, if you prefer soaking up the sun instead of a swim.  The bars are also open, so you can grab that piña colada while getting started on your tan.
  1. Meet a Character
    If you’re on a Disney cruise, you are probably planning to meet some characters.  There are always some character greetings the first day.  These are frequently less attended than those later in the week.
  1. Try an Activity
    Cruises have a variety of different activity offerings. Since most are less crowded on the first day, it’s the perfect time to try them out.  While other guests are wandering aimlessly around the ship, you could be playing miniature golf or shooting hoops at the basketball court.
  1. Learn How to Play Poker
    Have you ever been interested in learning table games, but without the financial risk?  Casinos often have free gaming lessons, which can be great if you want to gamble but don’t know the ropes.  Try not to feel pressured to purchase after receiving free information.
  1. Download the Mobile App
    Most major cruise lines have their own free mobile app.  This typically contains deck plans, restaurant menus, and activities information.  Some ships even offer a message system to help you keep in contact with other passengers. Mobile apps use the ship Wi-Fi, typically at no cost.
  1. Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode
    Avoid international fees, but putting your phone on airplane mode.  Many apps, such as WhatsApp and Skype offer free calling, video calls, and messaging with access to Wi-Fi.
  1. Sign Up for the Spa Raffle
    Interested free spa services? Sign-up for the spa raffle.  You’ll have to both sign up and then show up for the raffle drawing.  Since guests often have to be present to win, this can increase your chances of getting free stuff.  They usually take about 30 minutes of your time and everyone who attends gets a discount offer. Prizes include free facials, tooth-whitening, and manicures.
  1. Compete for Free Prizes
    Cruises have trivia type games throughout the cruise.  These are more lightly attended the first day, so you are more likely to win. The topics range from Harry Potter Trivia to Naming TV Tunes.  You can win things like hats, water bottles, t-shirts, and magnet, which make great souvenirs.
  1. Unpack
    Make your temporary home comfortable by unpacking and organizing your personal items.  If you would like any changes to your stateroom, such as having the beds separated, just let your cabin steward know.
  1. Attend the Muster Drill
    Every ship has a mandatory muster drill (aka the lifeboat or assembly drill).  This takes place around 3:30 PM, once the embarkation process has closed.  All ship activities are typically suspended for a prior to and directly after the drill.  However, you’ll want to make sure you are not otherwise occupied during that time.  Instructions will be provided by the captain and crew.  These drills only last about 30 minutes.  You can be kicked off a ship for non-compliance, so don’t skip it.
  1. Pick your Position
    After the muster drill, many people start seeking out spots to watch the ship leave port from.  If your traveling companions are not in the same muster drill group as you (this is based on room location), make sure you have a plan where to meet up afterward.  Ships typically set sail between 5 and 6 PM.
  1. Relax
    The great thing about cruising is that you don’t have to do anything unless you want to.  You can take a nap in your room or sit out on your stateroom balcony.  This is YOUR vacation, so take it at whatever pace you prefer.

We're here to help you make the most of your next cruise adventure. We are avid cruisers who believe that how you cruise is as important as where you cruise. Take a look around and let us know if you have any questions.

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