There is nothing worse than missing the ship. Guests must always arrive at the cruise terminal on time.

Cruising is the greatest vacation experience anyone can have. Every cruise line provides a unique on board atmosphere, ranging from dining, to entertainment, to shore excursions, and staterooms with all the comforts of home. Whether it is a seven, ten, or fourteen-day adventure, the fun is non-stop. Every cruise kicks off on sailing day. Sailing day is day one. Sure, it’s great to be excited about sailing day. However, it’s vital for guests to make sure they have all of their ducks in order. Amidst the excitement, guests tend to make a handful of mistakes. They can be mistakes that could greatly affect the outcome of their cruise. Here are the top five sailing day pitfalls which guests must avoid:

5) Misjudging sailing time: When it comes to sailing day, it is paramount for guests to arrive at the cruise terminal on time. Guests should not want to miss all the great activities that await once they’re on board (buffet lunch, having drinks poolside, etc.). Boarding normally begins at 11 am. Once on board, guests have all the time to unwind. What are the pitfalls? Often, guests push their arrival to the very last hour of the day. It is one of the most avoidable pitfalls. Pier security is directed to shut the terminal doors within an hour prior to the ship’s departure. If the ship’s departure is at 4 pm, guests should arrive no later than 3 pm. Guests have been turned away for arriving too late. Guests leave their homes for the pier and then get caught in traffic along the way. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help their chances. It doesn’t matter how much money they spent on such a long-awaited vacation. Guests should never wait til the final hour. The ship will sail without them, regardless of circumstances. Of all sailing pitfalls, it is one not worth facing. On-time is the best time!

Cruise passengers worry excessively about packing the right items on a cruise. Travel documents should be packed in carry-on baggage.

4) Luggage concerns: Of all the things guests worry about on a cruise, it’s their luggage. Honestly, it is the one element they worry too much about. Guests should pack in their luggage all of the key essentials, excluding their travel documents. Packing travel documents in luggage is a no-no. That’s true! If the weather forecast is supposed to be hot and humid, guests should be prepared for it. Guests should not show up in a sports jacket and tie, or some outfit that’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. Guests should always have a change of clothing in their carry-on baggage. That way, in case their luggage hasn’t yet arrived at their stateroom, they should not feel forced to bow out of the sailing day excitement. None of these matters should get in the way on sailing day. Worrying about luggage should be immaterial. Being prepared for the weather is always #1.

3) Gratuities: Gratuities always come to question when booking a cruise. Guests are always concerned about tipping on board. Gratuities should not have to be a monster issue. They should not be. Not prepaying gratuities is among the unexpected pitfalls faced by cruisers. When booking a cruise, guests should always ask the cruise line reservations agent or their travel agent if they can prepay their gratuities. If yes, it’s the right call. Cruise lines normally charge $12.00 per day for gratuities and $16.00 for guests in suites. Once the gratuities are prepaid, there’s no need to add a tip when signing room charge receipts. Plus, it saves the guests money on their on board charge account. The best way is to prepay!

Gratuities should be the least of all guests’ worries. Prepaying gratuities makes life a whole lot easier.

2) Repositioning cruises: Repositioning cruises are a lot of fun. They are actually the cheapest of all cruises. What are repositioning cruises? They’re one-way sailings from one major port concluding at another. They take place particularly when the seasons change. There is one major pitfall that guests face when going on repositioning cruises. On repositioning cruises, guests mistakenly drive to the cruise port, thinking they’re on a round-trip voyage. It makes anyone wonder “What in the world are they thinking?”. It happens often. It creates a hardship for the guests trying to retrieve their car. Further, this pitfall results in the guests trying to devise a grandiose plan on when and how they’ll be able to pick up their car. When booking a cruise, guests should make the effort of researching the cruise itinerary first before committing, A repositioning cruise is just as fun as any other cruise. Doing proper research makes a big difference. It is the key difference between a memorable sailing day and a vacation hardship in the making. A repositioning cruise should be the ship’s transition from one port to another, not one obstacle on top of another.

Repositioning cruises are fun and offer plenty of fun. Warning: guests MUST NOT drive to the cruise terminal.

1) Documentation: To this very point in time, guests still encounter multiple pitfalls regarding documentation. Documentation is the #1 step to a successful sailing day. Documentation is the bread and butter of a cruise. It is needed for not just embarkation, but also for re-entry into the country. What pitfalls have guests faced regarding documentation? The pitfalls range from simple faults like leaving passports at home. The middle-of-the-road faults include packing travel documents in their luggage. The most serious matters include failing to obtain the more important documents, including visas, parental consent letters, and medical letters. Medical letters mainly pertain to pregnant guests. Once guests book their cruise, they get too comfortable with looking forward to their trip. Guests MUST research what documentation they’ll need for their cruise, especially concerning minors, visas, and medical issues. Failure to have the proper documentation will result in their denial of boarding.

Inadequate documentation is the #1 of all sailing day pitfalls. All guests are responsible for having the proper documentation for sailing day.

A cruise: it’s the ultimate vacation experience. Cruises offer merely everything under the sun, including good times had by all. Before going on a cruise, guests must be aware of the pitfalls. Multiple mistakes are made. One day, there will be a cruise which all guests will do everything properly prior to sailing day. Wishful thinking, right? It is imperative that guests pay attention to the pitfalls and make the right choices before suffering the consequences. Guests must arrive at the cruise terminal on time. They should allow themselves the opportunity to unwind. Guests must exercise caution when packing their luggage for the reasons previously mentioned. They should prepay their gratuities. When going on repositioning cruises, they SHOULD NOT drive to the pier. All guests must bring along the appropriate documentation for boarding. Failing to avoid sailing day pitfalls results in the hopes of a long-anticipated cruise being dashed. Avoiding frequent pitfalls does more than assuring guests a pleasurable cruise experience. Avoiding pitfalls assures guests a memorable sailing day.

About Author

David Kriso has been a travel writer since August 2011. He is a contributing writer for both of his hometown's newspapers, The Gazette, and The Observer. His articles focus on cruise and railroad travel. David is also published online at, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, David also writes for the publication On, he writes about cruise and rail travel. David is a long-time train traveler, avid cruiser, and a Disney traveler since age 4.

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