Cruise Disembarkation Day Blunders


Cruise Disembarkation blunders

Cruise Disembarkation Day Blunders

What are the 12 biggest blunders that cruisers make when it comes to disembarking the ship?

These are 12 things that I want to share with you to make sure when you next leave your cruise ship, you don’t make the same mistakes a lot of other cruisers make.

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#1 Don’t self-disembark unless…..

First of all, never go for self-disembarkation unless you are really sure that you can manage all of your luggage. You’ll potentially have to carry it down multiple stairs and multiple decks because the elevators could be really full.

Self-disembarkation is great because if you can carry your own bags off the ship. You’re normally first off so, you can get off the ship early.

However, you will be given no help whatsoever. You have to be able to carry everything, so you need to bear in mind the elevators might be very busy and you might have to carry those bags down to the gangway.

So, before you go for self-disembarkation, make sure that you can carry all of your bags. This could be a huge cruise disembarkation day blunder.

#2 Make sure you have enough clothes for getting off the ship

If you have put your bags out to be collected and taken onto the pier for you the night before, make sure that you have kept enough clothes to get off the ship.

There’s a lot of jokes about people having to madly scramble around to find clothes. Some having to leave the ship in a bathrobe because they’ve packed everything else!

Make sure that you’ve left enough clothes to get off the ship, and particularly if it’s going to be hot or cold, you’ve got the appropriate clothes. This is one of the cruise disembarkation day blunders that you really want to avoid.

The other thing that I recommend you do is always make sure that you’ve got a nice, big bag. Some sort of hold-all bag that you can just chuck anything in that you might have almost left behind and only found on the morning of disembarkation.

MSC Cruises MSC Preziosa in Hamburg for Hamburg Cruise Days. For more:

#3 Booking your flight too early (or too late)

The other big blunder that people make is they book their flight home, or to the next destination, either too early or too late.

A cruise ship will normally get into port at seven or eight o’clock. However, you’re not going to be able to disembark until the ship is cleared. So, depending on your grade and status, you might find that you’re getting off the ship quite late.

Most cruise lines will give you a recommended time that you book a flight.

I would normally say aim for noon or later. Then, even if you’re getting off the ship quite late, you’ve still got time to get to the airport and get on board.

The other mistake that people make, and this is one thing that I see particularly when working with agents, is they try and book you on a flight that’s too late. So you end up wasting a complete day.

Most airlines only open their check-in desk two hours before a flight, so the danger is if you’ve got a flight late afternoon or early evening, you could be sitting at the airport for many hours hanging around until check-in opens before you can go through.

So, booking your flight too early or too late is a big blunder that people make. Getting the right time (around about noonish time if you can) is the optimal time for a flight.

#4 Not negotiating the disembarkation time

The next cruise disembarkation day blunder that people make is that they just accept the time they’re given.

So, normally, when you disembark, you’re given a colour code and you put that in your bags to put out, and then you use that colour code to get off the ship and you’re given an allocated time.

If the time doesn’t suit you, it’s too early or it’s even too late, go and try and negotiate because you’ll normally find that guest services have some flexibility and they will let you go on a different time.

You might want to get off early because you want to go sightseeing or get to that flight, or you might want to get off late because you’re checking into a hotel and you can’t check in until two o’clock, or whatever.

I’d say always go and negotiate, don’t just accept the time you’re given – try and negotiate a time that works for you

Azamara Club Cruises Pursuit cruise ship

#5 Not carefully checking your statement

The fifth big cruise disembarkation day blunder that people make is not carefully checking their statement before they get off the ship. Normally, you can check it online.

There’s lots of apps you can use to get services and check it during the cruise. Which I recommend you do so. That way, any errors can be picked up quite early on. Usually, you’ll get a statement delivered to you overnight.

Check it very carefully because once you’re off the ship, trying to correct errors is almost impossible.

I have stories from so many people that have ended up with all sorts of charges which they dispute, but they didn’t check their statement carefully.

Nowadays, because of technology, you can check as you go.

If you don’t have an app, I always go and get guest services to print me out an invoice at various points during the cruise. But check your invoice before you get off.

#6 Leaving stuff in the safe or cabin

The sixth blunder that people make, and we’ve all done it, is leaving stuff in the cabin. Now there’s two really, really critical things.

First of all, check the safe.

Because that’s where you’re going to have your money, your passport, valuables, your medication. Really make sure that you’ve checked the safe.

One of the tips that I got from someone once is to put something in the safe that you’re going to have to wear the next day. So, one of your shoes, perhaps, in the safe.

Check and double the check the drawers. Cruise cabins have loads of storage and you might believe you’ve already packed some chargers or something you haven’t really used. Only to find that they weren’t packed and were still in a drawer.

There have been many times when I’ve found stuff in little drawers that I’d forgotten about!

So, when you’ve packed, before you put the cases out, if you’re travelling with someone, get them to do a double check in every single drawer.

Because once you’re off the ship, it’s really hard to get it back.

#7 Not fetching your passport

Sort of linked to that, another blunder that people make is not getting their passport.

Depending on where you’re cruising to, you might actually have to hand your passport in to guest services. They keep is as you go through the different immigration checks in different countries.

And then on the last day, you can go and fetch your passport. Sometimes you can fetch it the day before.

This point is really important. Make sure you get your passport. I have been on trips before where people have got on the excursion bus or the transfer, and realised they haven’t got their passport.

It’s a real hassle getting back on the ship. So, make sure you have it. I write a big note for myself; I stick it on the safe or put it in the safe, put it on my bags to remind myself to get my passport.

Cruise Ship Sydney Harbour

#8 Forgetting which luggage tag 

The next blunder that I see people make is forgetting what colour their luggage tag is and not keeping the little receipt to help you get off the ship.

You’re given those coloured tags, which you put on your bags. You then put the bags out and you ask to keep the little tag and that’s what you show to get off. Or to show that you are in that particular time slot to get off the ship.

Often, you have to show that because they control the foot-fall and without that they may not let you off the ship. You could be asked to wait until later.

The other big issue is if you’ve forgotten your colour card and you walk in to where all the bags are. There could be thousands of bags, and you then have to try and remember what colour you are and where your bag could be.

It’s really important to remember the colour and the little tag. You normally get a little piece of paper when you get those luggage tags, which will tell you your colour.

So, I just file that with my passport or my documents. So, even if I have forgotten the little sheet, I have the original document that tells me what colour I am. And I know which colour I need to look for to find my bags!

#9 Leaving your keycard in the cabin

The next big blunder, although it’s not the end of the world, is people leaving their key card in their cabin.

You know, when you leave a hotel, if you’ve self-checked out you can just leave the card in the room and off you go.

That doesn’t work on a cruise ship, you need that key card to get off the ship. If you’ve left it in your cabin, you’ll have to go all the way back to your cabin and find the steward (if your cabin is closed) and get the key card.

So, always make sure you’ve got your key card with you right through until you’re off the ship.

#10 Not being smart about elevators

One of the biggest challenges that you’re going to face on disembarkation day is elevators.

Lots of people, particularly if you’re on a big ship, are going to be trying to get off the ship. So, everyone is likely to be using the elevators and they’re going to be incredibly busy.

A couple of little tips and tricks if you don’t want to walk down the stairs. First of all, avoid the midship elevators. You’re going to find that’s the busiest area of all.

Use the elevators at either side of the ship. But the best tip of all is push up. Go up at least one level because the lift going up is going to be not very busy, so go up to come down.

And that’s your best chance of getting in a lift with luggage and being able to get down. It would probably drive people crazy because that’s how you do it, but it’s an absolute must if the elevators are busy.

#11 Taking bathrobes and other things from the cabin

Another big mistake that people make is they take things from the cabin.

The most obvious of these are things like the bathrobes and the umbrellas. Things that are in the cabin supplied as part of the cabin amenities.

If you take one of those items, it’s a big mistake because you are going to be charged for it and the price that they put on those things is pretty hefty. Don’t bother taking things from the cabin.

Now, probably the big exception to that is if you’re also on one of those cruise ships that haven’t moved to refillable toiletries.

You’ve got the little miniatures of toiletries, if you really want to take those with you, my best advice is to take some of those halfway through the cruise.

Put them to one side in a cupboard or something and they’ll be replenished. This way you know that it’s going to be okay. But, still be very careful about what you take off the ship because you will probably be charged a big premium for taking those.

#12 Not cruising on lines with simple disembarkation

Another big tip /blunder/opportunity is there are different cruise lines that are making it even easier to get off and disembark easier.

As you are more and more loyal to a cruise line and you work your way up the different tier levels, you’ll also find that you get early disembarkation.

But, there are a number of cruise lines that are starting to build in other things. So, you can sometimes buy a specific pass which gives you early embarkation and disembarkation.

You’ll find, in some ports, that you’re able to check in your bags on the ship and the bags are then taken to the airport and to the airline. So, you don’t even have to worry about taking your bags off at all and taking them to the airport.

You’ll also find, for example, on Disney cruises, if you’re staying in their parks in Orlando, they will do an arrangement where you can check your bags in there. They will then be taken to Port Canaveral and onto the ship.

So, find out if there’s any little opportunities that you can have from the cruise lines to ease through the whole process of disembarkation. There’s a whole bundle of blunders that people make that end up making disembarkation day quite stressful!

These are some of the things that I do to basically make disembarkation much easier and avoid some of the blunders that people make.

View more of my cruising tips.



Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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