Day 1 means that we get to have our first look at the Liberty of the Seas. This will be the largest ship that we’ve ever sailed on and I’m very much looking forward to exploring it’s offerings when we’re able to board.
Before leaving the hotel, be sure to have a carry-on packed. Typically, my carry-on consists of prescription medications, a swimming suit (if you’d like to swim when you get on the ship) and a change of clothes for that evening’s dinner (in case your luggage is a late-arrival). Having these items will ensure that you have an enjoyable first day on the ship. Sometimes, luggage doesn’t arrive until 7 or 8pm and occasionally, even later, so having a few important items will allow you to be able to do things on the ship that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
We usually leave the hotel around 10am to head for the Port so that we can be on board as close to lunch time as possible. Most cruise lines tell you that boarding doesn’t begin until 1:30 or 2pm, but that’s not true. You can be on board as early as 11am on some occasions. Early boarding is all dependent upon how early the ship got into port and how smoothly debarkation of the last set of passengers went. If things were moving slowly, they may not open boarding until 1:30 or 2pm, but we’ve found that that’s not usually the case. I don’t think we’ve ever boarded a ship later then 12:30pm.
When we arrive at the port, we will be greeted by luggage porters. These are the men and women who handle all of the luggage for all of the passengers arriving to board the ship. This means 3,634 passengers luggage is handled by these people each time the ship comes into port. If you take into account that these porters are also assisting people getting off the ship, this could be 7,268 people in one day.
It’s customary to tip the porters when you hand off your luggage. Some people believe that a bigger tip means that your luggage will get to your cabin faster, but I don’t think there’s any way that one can guarantee that with so much luggage changing hands. You should definitely tip the porters though, just as you would tip your cab driver or a doorman at a hotel.
Once your luggage is left safely with the porters, you can proceed to the check-in area. Sometimes, it will be open by 10am for check-in and sometimes, you will have to wait a bit until they are ready for you. If you have to wait, generally, there is a seating area for you to wait in, but be prepared, because sometimes, especially with the larger ships, these areas can become crowded quickly.
Check-in is typically pretty painless. Just make sure that you have your passport, cruise documentation and the credit card that you will be charging for all of your on board purchases (no, everything isn’t included – alcohol, Ben & Jerry’s, specialty coffee, etc. is all an additional charge).
Once we board, we have to wait until the cabins are ready, which usually doesn’t happen until around 2 or 3pm. This will give you plenty of time to explore the ship and stop at the Windjammer for a buffet lunch but be prepared, because this day in the Windjammer is going to be complete chaos. This is one of the only open locations on the ship during boarding and that means that it’s where everyone ends up. It can get pretty hectic, so my recommendation is that you find a table first and then have someone stay where while the rest of the group goes to get their food. If you don’t scope out seating first, you may end up wandering around for 20 minutes while your food gets cold in your hands.
This is also a good time to do some exploring and to get yourself acquainted with the ship. If you’re not hungry immediately, you can even wander around the ship first and wait out the crowd in the Windjammer.
The rest of day one is filled with muster drills (thank goodness you don’t have to wear your life jackets anymore) and a sail away party. I usually spend this day getting used to where things are on the ship. I know this time won’t be any different since it’s a very large ship and we’ll have a lot to explore in 5 days.