Cruise Disembarkation Day Blunders

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

Cruise Disembarkation blunders

These are 12 things that I want to share with you to make sure when you next leave your cruise, you don’t make the same mistakes as lots of 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 really 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 really, really busy and you might have to carry those bags right down to the gangways.

So, before you go for disembarkation, make sure that you can carry all of your bags.

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

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

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

Absolutely 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.

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 everything that you might have left behind or forgotten to put in your bags that you can then repack once you get off the ship.

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 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 only 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 because 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 waste 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 really, really 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 on disembarkation time

The next 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 the guest services have some flexibility and they will let you go on a different time.

So, you might want to get off early because you want to go sightseeing or get to that flight, or you actually 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, just don’t 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 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 go to get services and check it during the cruise, which I recommend you do so, because any errors you can pick it up quite early on. Usually, you’ll get a statement delivered to you overnight.

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

It’s really difficult to do, and I have stories from so many people that have ended up with all sorts of charges which they dispute, but they didn’t check really 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 in time. 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 put something that you’re going to have to wear the next day, so one of your shoes or something in the safe.

if you want to keep stuff in the safe, because when you get ready in the morning, you’re going to be looking for the shoe and it’s in the safe. So that’s a really good tip.

The other thing to do is do a triple check every single drawer. Cruise cabins have loads of storage, lots of little nooks and crannies, and you might believe you’ve put some chargers or something you haven’t really used, some clothes perhaps, that you brought but you didn’t use.

So many times, I’ve found on a triple check of a cabin, 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, which they keep as you go through the different immigration checks in different countries you go to.

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

Really, 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 absolutely make sure. What I always do is 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 fetch the 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.

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

And often, you have to show that because they control you and without that they won’t let you off the ship and they make you wait until later.

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

So really important, make sure you remember the colour and little tag. One thing I do, is you normally get a little piece of paper when you get those luggage tags, which will tell you your colour on that.

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 and 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, when you get to get off the ship, you’re going to 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 really 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, because normally you’re going to find that’s the busiest 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, 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 – so 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 so you know that it’s going to be okay but be very careful about what you take off the ship because you will probably be charged a big premium for taking those off.

#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.

Obviously, one of the obvious ways of doing it is if you’re cruising in a suite to get preferential disembarkation early.

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 increasingly 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 for example (like some Royal Caribbean cruises) you’re able to actually check in your bags on the ship and the bags are then taken to the airport and to the airline so that 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, and they will be taken to Port Canaveral and onto the ship.

So increasingly 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.

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