Just How Much Happens on the Embarkation Day – The First Day of Your Cruise? 

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a cruise ship in the water

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Embarkation day can represent the happiness of a long-awaited vacation, but it can also be an exhausting process, and a mean one at that! I mean, you may have traveled long hours, sometimes more than 1 flight, likely an overnight in the port city, sometimes traveling from abroad meaning an immigration process is involved, then at last make your way to the Cruise Terminal, you go through the check in, and the first thing they’ll do is take your picture! Then finally you get on the ship and wait around for the rooms to be ready and in the process desperately looking forward to what’s to come. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of things happening behind your back that will allow this dream vacation to happen. Here’s a list of such things:

Bunkering

It means the ship is being refueled. Not much of an imposition to you unless you were thinking of visiting the outdoor smoking area, as this is, for obvious reasons, not accessible during such times. Cruise ships do use a lot of fuel to run the massive generators that provide all the power to the ship’s systems.

Luggage

By the time you drop off your luggage to be taken on board, pier staff and Cruise Line crew alike have been working tirelessly for hours to get the previous travelers’ suitcases OFF the ship. This process is nothing short from exhausting and started the night before you arrived at port. Once debark has been completed, the same process, but in reverse, will be repeated. Luggage is placed on trolleys, ideally separated by the area of the ship they are destined to arrive at, then loaded onto the ship and using crew elevators they are dropped off in each deck. This is why you may have to wait a few hours before you can reunite with it.

Crew Sign Off / On

While not always happening on embarkation day, especially in Europe since recently the crew turnaround day means the start of a long-awaited vacation for a few crew members, as well as the beginning of a contract up to 9-months long for others. Sign-off crew will typically be driven straight to the airport by chartered buses, where they’ll catch flights home typically provided by the Cruise Line. Even your Captain may have just come onboard for a new contract! Few guests think about how much of your crew is just starting a long contract the day you get onboard.

Rooms made up

Almost immediately after debarking guests leave their room, a team of Housekeeping workers will rush in to make them up and leave them ready for the new guests, working hard as quickly as possible in each room in order to have them ready for occupancy as soon as possible. Keep this mad rush in mind should you ever find something wrong with your room the first day you arrive. If anything is out of place be assured it will be fixed over the next day or so.

Supplies being loaded

Mostly everything you will consume during your cruise, from every egg you have at breakfast to the flour for your favorite volcano cake at dinner will be loaded on that day, which is why containers full of supplies can be observed on the loading dock, if you pay enough attention. The main passageway below decks, called I-95 on most ships, is crazy busy with pallets moving into coolers and freezers for your voyage.  

Clearance

Meanwhile, the Embarkation and Clearance Officer, or Chief Purser (depending on the Cruise Line) is preparing and submitting all the paperwork required for the cruise ship to not only leave port, but also to arrive in its following port of call, complying with all the legal requirements involved.

Show rehearsals

While the main shows will generally happen a few days into the cruise, rehearsals for lights, wardrobe, music, vocals and even wigs will be conducted regularly in order to perform at the best possible level.

Even after so many years onboard I find it remarkable that in a few short hours an entire ship of up to 8000 passengers and crew can be completely turned around in a few short hours. So enjoy your first day onboard, dear guest, but if something is not perfect please understand everything that has been going on with your crew up before the crack of dawn, getting only a few short breaks, and getting to bed very late the first day of your cruise! – ThatGuy (onboard)

 

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