In the last article, I talked about the boarding process and what to expect. Keep in mind that you probably won’t get your checked luggage delivered for hours. But don’t let that slow down your fun! If you’ve packed a bathing suit in your carry-on, you can take advantage of the ship’s pools immediately.
But first, you’re probably hungry by now… Virtually all ships have a buffet lunch available the first day. This is always on the same deck as the main pool area. It may be crowded there, though, so also check out whether the dining room is open for lunch. Sometimes it’s nice to start your luxury cruise with a luxury lunch! If you go to the dining room now, you can also check out the location of your assigned table for dinner (if traditional dining applies to you).
When you do get to your cabin, if your steward is around, s/he will introduce him/herself to you. If not, don’t worry—your cabin will be kept in pristine condition, and any requests can either be left in writing to your steward or you can call (the information will be in your cabin). Don’t be afraid to make reasonable requests—your steward is there to make your cruise as enjoyable as possible! Need another pillow? Just ask!
You might find it convenient to use Post-it notes for your requests if the steward isn’t around—just stick them to the mirror where your steward will see them. Write legibly—remember, English is not everyone’s first language, and a ship’s crew is quite international.
You’ll find the daily program for the first day in your cabin. A couple of things you need to be aware of: first, before the ship sails, you’ll be required to take part in a muster drill. No, not “mustard”—this has nothing to do with condiments. It’s the lifeboat drill, and all passengers, by law, must take part. You’ll find the directions in your cabin. Nowadays, you don’t even have to take your lifejacket with you, which will make this drill much easier and less cumbersome.
The next thing you need to be aware of is the sailaway celebration, held on deck on virtually every cruise. Usually the band will play and various festivities ensue. It’s definitely a fun thing to take part in.
During this celebration, you’ll see many bar waiters offering you the “Embarkation Special” drink in a souvenir glass. Be aware: these aren’t included in your cruise price—they cost extra! First-time cruisers always seem surprised by this… their surprise probably stems from watching too many episodes of “The Love Boat” TV show!