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5 Things You Should Do on Embarkation Day – Straight After Boarding

I am lucky enough to cruise many times a year, and there are five things I always do once I get on board. Find out what those five things are in the article below.

I am quite an organised person, so prefer to get things done as soon as possible. Then I can just sit back and enjoy the rest of my cruise!

Emma cruises Arvia balcony
On My Balcony – P&O Arvia

#1 Check In At Your Muster Station

It is a legal requirement that everyone taking a cruise must take part in a Muster Drill of some type.

Cruise lines are legally bound by SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) to provide a Muster Drill for all guests. The cruise line would be breaking the law if it, for whatever reason, didn’t conduct the muster drill correctly.

The time, location and specifics of the Muster Drill will vary by cruise line. Each passenger will be marked off a list when they have attended the Muster Station, to prove they have taken part.

Prior to the Costa Concordia disaster of 2012, the Muster Drill was required to take place within 24 hours of embarkation. It must now happen before the ship departs or immediately on departure. 

Pre Covid, Muster Drills would be completed by gathering together all guests in their allocated Muster Station area at the same time. This has now mostly been replaced by “E Musters” instead.

msc muster drill in cabin
MSC Muster Video

An E-muster or Virtual Muster Drill involves guests watching safety videos before boarding the ship or onboard on the cabin TV.

Guests then only need to visit their assigned Muster Station once aboard, so that they know where to find it in case of a real emergency.

E Musters take far less time out of your day – far better in my opinion than standing around in a life jacket at your Muster Station, waiting for latecomers to show up!

Watching the safety video and attending my Muster Station is usually the first thing I do when I get onboard a cruise ship.

Find out everything you could ever wish to know about Muster Drills in the article below:

What is a Muster Drill on a Cruise? Everything You Need to Know (REVIEW of Traditional and Virtual Muster Drills)

#2 Go For Lunch

I am normally quite hungry by the time I get onboard the ship, having taken a morning flight, or driven to my local cruise port.

Usually, I get onboard around lunchtime, so I check the Cruise Ship App – if there is one – to find out which restaurants and buffets are open.

Celebrity buffet
Enjoying a buffet lunch on Celebrity Edge

If the main dining room is open for lunch, I like to go there.

It’s so nice to sit there and be waited on – it’s like having a nice meal in a restaurant on land – but with no nasty bill at the end!

Lots of people head straight up to the buffet once they board – and the buffet is often at its busiest then. If there is another food venue open, why not try that instead?

There is often a Poolside Grill open on the top deck, serving hot dogs and burgers. If the weather is good, why not sit out in the sun and enjoy a meal there?

Find out more about the differences between eating in the dining room and buffet here:

What is the Difference Between Eating in the Buffet or the Main Dining Room on a Cruise Ship?

#3 Book Entertainment and Speciality Meals.

On larger ships with lots of passengers, you often have to book theatre shows and speciality meals in advance.

This can be done via the cruise ship app or at the onboard reception desk.

I like to book theatre shows for every night of my cruise if possible. I can always cancel at a later date if my plans change.

Aqua Theatre onboard Symphony of the Seas

Older and smaller ships often don’t have this booking system; you can just show up to the theatre, but you will probably still have to book the speciality restaurants.

You don’t have to buy the ship’s WiFi to use their App to make reservations. Find out more about that here:

You Don’t Need to Pay For Wi-Fi To Use a Cruise Line App – Here’s Why

#4 Put Your Suitcases In Your Room

Sometimes if you get onboard early, your cabin won’t be ready.

Once I am able to get into my cabin, I normally go and check out my room and take my suitcases inside.

Suitcases are left outside your cabin door by the crew – but I am always keen to get mine safely inside!

I often leave unpacking until later in the day, but it is always reassuring to know that your case has arrived onboard.

Emma and suitcase
Me, pleased that my suitcase has arrived safely – P&O’s Arvia

#5 Check Your Dining Time

Often you will find a piece of paper inside your cabin, giving you your table number and dining time for the main restaurant.

Older or more traditional cruise ships often have set dining.

Find out all about the cruise I took with the traditional British Cruise Line Fred Olsen below. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat in the main dining room many times – I was far too seasick!

Newer and more casual cruise lines may have “Freestyle” dining – where you just show up at the restaurant when you are hungry, and they will find you a table.

Sometimes there will be a short wait if you arrive at a busy time.

norwegian sun main dining room seven seas four seasons
Norwegian Sun Main Dining Room

Sometimes I ask to change my dining time once onboard. Most people prefer to dine around 8 pm it seems, whereas I would prefer to eat at around 5 or 6 pm!

Normally it isn’t a problem, the restaurant is normally quite empty at the time I want to eat. If you were trying to move from an early dining time to a later dining time, that might be more of an issue.

Before You Go

Find out about things you need to plan ahead for and pack when taking a cruise here:

Planning And Packing For Your Cruise, Things to Organise in Advance, Packing Essentials And More

Find out how early you can get on your cruise ship here:

How Early Can You Board a Cruise Ship? – Cruise Line Guide

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

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