Saturday we are disembarking in Athens, so I share my disembarkation tips for your future cruise planning…
9 Tips for an Easy Cruise Disembarkation
For the easiest disembarkation, the key tips start before you ever get on the cruise. Thinking through it and preparing ahead will make disembarkation day stress-free.
Ahead of Time
1. Plan your travel arrangements with disembarkation in mind. If you schedule your flight at the earliest time recommended by the cruise line, it will create a huge amount of anxiety with the need to be up early, dragging all your bags yourself to be off first, and worrying about traffic to the airport. Sometimes ships are delayed with being cleared through customs.
If you are flying home the same day as you disembark, pay a little more for a flight that leaves midday or later, depending on the port. We are flying from Athens on the 1:45pm flight, so won’t have to leave the ship until the latest possible time of 9am. Consider doing some sightseeing in the port with a late day departure – many ports offer luggage storage, and some cruise lines will transport your luggage to the airport while you stay and enjoy the day. If you are staying locally for a few days, you’ve just made life a lot easier.
2. Plan your last evening and disembarkation morning outfit before you take your cruise. This sounds a bit over-the-top, until you hear the stories of the guy who has to disembark in a robe or the folks with no shoes. You’ll need to put your big checked bags outside your stateroom the night before disembarkation, typically sometime around 9pm – 11pm.
If you’ve thought about it ahead of time and separated those clothes you’ll need at the very end of the cruise, you’re less likely to inadvertently pack a necessary item. Prepping a small tote with your outfit for the last dinner, your pajamas, and the next day’s outfit, all with accompanying items like underwear and shoes, means that packing the rest of your stuff will go very fast because you’ll know you won’t need any of it. Of course, medications and valuables always go in your carry-off-the-ship bag.
3. Add something distinctive to your luggage to identify it. You’re probably used to dealing with your luggage on flights, but the number of bags at disembarkation is in the thousands, so there’s a higher opportunity for someone to accidentally grab your luggage. The something distinctive, while convenient for you, is really more about making it obvious to another traveler that it is not his bag.
4. Verify any onboard charges before the end of the trip. Two-thirds of the way through the cruise, ask for a statement of your account and just make sure everything looks okay. If you need assistance, it’s better to deal with it when there are no lines at the reception area than right after the entire ship just got their final statement. I’ve found it is just as easy to call from my stateroom to ask about a charge than to go down to guest services. Your final balance will be charged automatically to the credit card you provided so no need to deal with that on disembarkation day.
5. Another little trick is to pack your dirty clothes and souvenirs mid-cruise. If you have two large bags you’ll be putting outside, halfway through the cruise go ahead and pack one with the clothes you’ve already worn and won’t use again during the cruise. Then stick the suitcase back under the bed – creates a little more space and makes that last full cruise day easier.
6. Fill out the disembarkation paperwork when requested. Watch for the form to be delivered 3-5 days from the end of the cruise and be prompt in filling it out. Then when your color-coded tags are delivered, take the time to read the instructions thoroughly, and use your color-coded tags. If they don’t give you an extra tag, make sure to write down your color.
7. Before going to bed the last night of the trip, take everything out of the safe. Make sure you have passports, computers or tablets, jewelry, etc. If the battery in the safe decides to die, better to deal with getting assistance with it now rather than during the crazy morning rush.
8. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the dining room. You’ll need to leave your stateroom earlier than the final disembarkation time, so the perfect way to end your cruise in a relaxed manner is to have a lovely breakfast – maybe enjoy that last eggs benedict before home to the real world.
9. Keep your cruise card/id and your passport in an easy to reach place. You’ll need to show your cruise card to disembark the ship.
These tips should help you end your cruise in an easy and smooth manner.