In all the excitement (and a bit of confusion) on the first day of your first cruise, here’s a list to help.

1. Muster drill

Let’s start with the less-than-thrilling safety drill onboard ship known as the ‘muster drill’ or ‘lifeboat drill.’ The last thing on your mind after boarding is an emergency – or maybe it’s the first? In any event, this is a mandatory attendance event for all passengers. Crew will show you how to put on lifejackets (which you won’t need), where your lifeboat is (which you won’t need), and escape routes (which you won’t need). But…if you do need them, you are prepared. So go learn. File it away. And let the fun begin.

2. Change into your ship clothes

Your luggage might take a bit to arrive at your stateroom. So pack ‘ship’ clothes in your carry-on, and change out of that land-lover travel outfit you’re wearing. This also might include a swimsuit since the pools are often slimly occupied on the first day.

3. Make onboard reservations

Go ahead and book specialty dining reservations, spa appointments, shore excursion plans, and purchase your drink package(s).

4. Use your phone for the last text, and turn off ‘roaming’

Enough said.

5. Unpack

Not exactly a thrilling activity. But you only have to do this one time on a cruise, and it’s done!

6. Take loads of pictures

Nothing like the first day of a cruise when everyone’s expressions are giddy, happy, and not-yet sunburned. You did bring sunscreen and hats, right? (Read about 7 Things People Forget on Their First Cruise.)

7. Explore the ship

This is your new home for the next days/weeks of your first cruise vacation. There are maps and apps, so get to know your surroundings. And, take the stairs when you’re exploring. That elevator, especially on the first day, will ‘never’ arrive at whatever floor you’re standing on!

8. Be on deck when she ‘sails’

It is a festive and giddy time to see and feel your cruise ship leave the dock. Usually there’s music and celebration at different locations on the ship. But be aware, there will likely be no one on the dock sending you out into the open ocean, like they do in the movies. That was a blow to me on my first cruise – I wanted to wave at someone!

9. Introduce yourself to the cabin steward

They are the experts and can help with any situation that might arise during your first cruise. Also, it’s just fun to talk with professionals on the ship – they know all the ‘best’ tips.

Stay tuned for the next cruising 101 article to make your first cruise the best cruise!

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