I partly apologize from here on out, there will be as many cruise posts as I can get away without being overly obnoxious within the next 6 months. Why you may ask? I am headed on my 7th cruise in January which is a 13 day Caribbean!! Now you can see where this just opened up a whole lot of blog possibilities. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about cruising over the years and embarkation is a huge one! For those that aren’t familiar with that term, it’s the actually process of checking in and boarding the ship to start your vacation.
Disclaimer: I have only been on Carnival Cruise lines (and loved every minute of it) so this is based on my experience with them from 4 separate ports and 6 cruises.
Cruise January 2017 – This was taken as you are embarking on the ship. Note Passport still in hand!
Let’s pretend you just got out of the cab/uber and are standing in front of this industrial ship yard looking building with all of your luggage in your hands excited and confused on what your next step is. First of all, there will be a lot of people standing around, usually in lines. Believe it or not they are not going with you, in fact they just got off the ship that you are getting ready to board and are busy completing their debarkation process of finding a ride. (more on that later) You may need to ask where the front of the building is, I have often needed to ask and luckily there will be plenty of people that know what’s going on to show you the way.
Before you enter the building you will come across men with carts, they are there to take your already tagged luggage (you get the tags ahead of time and need to have them on ASAP!) Don’t worry, those men will help make it so that your luggage magically appears in front of your door before you go to sleep that night. Make sure to have a few bucks on hand as it is customary to tip these magic men.
When entering the building make sure to have all of your paper work and passports easily accessible or in hand. You will be emailed the paperwork that you will need such as your booking number, health questionnaire, etc. This is the process that feels like you are going through airport security, only its a bit more relaxed. Passport check is usually up first, followed by the bag check. Big perk is that you can bring liquids, like canned soda as well as keep your shoes on! (or it was 2 years ago!)
Once you’ve been thoroughly screened down to your bones, haha see what I did there?!? Next is a bit of a line to the lovely Cruise Terminal employees that officially check you into your cruise. Now here is where things have been changing a bit for Carnival. This used to be where you got your Sail & Sign card which is like your key to the world but some ships you’ve been getting them in the mailbox outside your room, Tree Mail as my family calls it. It also used to be the official “check in” but now we are able to check into our cruise online on my birthday of all days and have to pick a check in time so obviously that bit is changing as well. This is also where you can link your credit/debit card to your Sail & Sign for all cruise purchases. I will be able to tell you more about this step after January because of all of the changes.
Ready to set sail with coffee in hand on the lido deck!
Once you leave the nice people and are all checked in, it’s a waiting game. You are boarded in zones and until your zone is called you get to find a seat within a very large room filled with people. Personally, I love to people watch and enjoy my last hours of cell service. I often find wedding parties walking the boardwalks all dressed up ready to go, but it’s also where you can start chatting with your fellow shipmates around you. When your Zone is called you follow the crowd of people and head up the escalators to the boardwalk and onto the ship where they welcome you to your new home.
Taking your first steps on the ship you are usually in the lobby where the customer service desks are, honestly I am never on this floor during the actual cruise, this is like the only time. It is recommended that you head up to the lido deck and enjoy lunch. I head for the side elevators, not the glass ones as there are four of them rather than 2. I also take this time to head straight up to the spa to make an appointment for myself that afternoon, then take my time exploring the ship and getting the lay of the land. When I head to the lido deck I go straight past the Buffett to the Pizza Pirate. I LOVE the changes they have made to this station and order myself a Quattro Formagio. (4 Cheese) Before we set sail I usually get on a first name basis with the barista in the coffee shop and lay out on deck until it’s time to leave port.
Glass Bottom Boat Excursion in Half Moon Key
Have a wonderful weekend y’all! I have a busy one ahead of me with lots of work to do. Hopefully this helped answer a few questions for those new to cruising! 🙂