Stress-Free Embarkation: Navigating the Boarding Process
If you plan to go on a cruise this 2023, you're not alone: an estimated 31.5 million people have the same plans. Moreover, the cruise industry expects more passengers in the next few years, up to 39.5 million by 2027!
Many travelers love cruises as these let them travel without worrying about logistics. They don't have to think about how to get from one port to another, as their itineraries take them to each.
Still, while you have fewer things to prepare for, it pays to know what to expect and do on your big cruise boarding day.
To that end, we created this guide discussing the boarding cruise ship procedure. So read on, as we'll tell you how to make your embarkation experience smooth and hassle-free.
Understand the Lingo: Embark vs. Debark
Safety matters. Become familiar with the terms embark and debark. You must know this as both affect your travel schedules and cruise experience.
In cruise lingo, embark means to board a ship. So, "embarkation day" refers to your cruise's first-ever day, when you first step on the sea vessel and set sail.
Mind your embarkation day when planning how to travel to the embarkation port. You may have to book a flight or drive for several hours.
What is an embarkation port, then? It's the port where you'll find your cruise ship and where you'll board it for the first time.
Debark, or disembark, means to get off a ship. For example, you'll find the term "disembarkation day" when checking out cruise itineraries. It often refers to the cruise's final day, when every traveler leaves the ship.
Please check your disembarkation day, time, and port before booking anything else. The last thing you want is to buy a ticket for a flight that leaves before you even debark the ship.
Check Airport Transfer Inclusions
According to statistics, 55% of American families are considering international vacation. If you're part of this group and are planning a family cruise, go for a package with transfers included. This way, you don't have to hire third-party transfer services for everyone who's going.
Small cruise ships offering solo, couple, and family cruises often have transfers included. If you book one of these, the cruise line's representatives will be at the airport to meet, greet, and pick you up.
Your next stop depends on when your actual cruise boarding schedule is. If you get in on the same day you embark, expect the reps to take you to a pre-cruise boarding zone or hospitality area.
If you booked a pre-cruise stopover package, the reps would take you to your hotel. Then, they'll pick you up on your embarkation day and take you to the pre-cruise boarding zone.
Check Required Arrival Times
Cruises with transfers included usually have required arrival times at the pickup location. Knowing these requirements is even more crucial if you must fly to get to your port of embarkation.
For example, suppose you're looking at Alaska cruises for families or adult-only travel. They should provide information on the latest you can arrive at each Alaskan airport. You can then check for flights from your location that meet their requirements.
Please book flights that meet those terms to ensure you have enough time to get to the port.
You can also arrange pre-cruise hotel accommodations for your peace of mind. This way, you can arrive a day or more earlier and do some pre-cruise exploration. This also helps you avoid problems that may arise due to flight delays.
Have a Backup Plan
Did you know that about 1% to 2% of flights get canceled? A whopping 20% to 25% also get delayed by at least 15 minutes.
That's why it's best to get to your embarkation port's location at least a day before boarding day. If this isn't possible, plan to arrive hours before boarding time.
Also, even if you get free airport transfers, you should still know your embarkation port.
A good enough reason is that things don't always go as expected during travel. If something unexpected happens, you may miss the required arrival time.
That's also why it's a must to know what is your embarkation port and how to get there. This allows you to create a backup plan to reach the port in case of travel delays.
Have Essential Documents on Hand
The documents you need for your cruise depend on your destination and nationality.
For example, Alaska cruises may require non-U.S. citizens to present a valid passport. Passports must be valid for at least six months after they enter the United States.
U.S. citizens sailing through non-U.S. waters must also bring their valid passports. For example, suppose you're a U.S. citizen, and your cruise must travel through Canadian waters. In this case, you need to bring your passport.
Visas to enter the cruise's destination countries may also be mandatory. Please note that visa processing may take days, weeks, or even months. Thus, please allow enough time to apply for these documents before your cruise.
For non-international travel, the least you'd need is a valid government-issued identification card. You can use your driver's license, but your passport is also okay. You must present this during the boarding cruise ship procedure itself.
Family cruises to other countries may have specific requirements for traveling with minors. For example, you may have to bring birth certificates if they're not yours (e.g., they're your grandkids). You may also need notarized consent letters from the kids' parents or legal guardians.
Enjoy Your Cruise Boarding Experience
And there you have it, the most vital things you must learn about the cruise boarding procedure. These include embarkation, disembarkation, arrivals, transfers, and required documents. Knowing these can make your boarding experience smooth, stress-free, and enjoyable.
Are you ready to embark on a memorable adult-only travel or family cruise? Then, our team here at Uncruise Adventures is more than happy to help! Call us now to learn more about our small cruise ships and destinations or to request a quote!