A cruise is any family or couple’s most anticipated vacation. Many months of planning and counting down all lead to the most exciting day of all-sailing day. Sailing day is day one of a cruise vacation. At the cruise terminal, there is a great deal of anticipation. The guests drop off their luggage with the longshoremen, they clear through security, and then get checked in at the counter. Despite all the pomp and circumstance, the guests ask a ton of questions. As they say, no question is a dumb question. In the cruise industry, all questions are good questions. Guests ask questions which the check-in staff and the ship staff hear week-in and week-out. What are the most common sailing day questions asked by guests? Here are the top five sailing day questions-answered.

5) When is the best time to arrive at the terminal? The answer to this question is clear, cut, and dry. Guests should arrive at the terminal before eleven o’clock. The boarding process normally begins by then. Once guests are successfully checked in, they’ll receive their stateroom key cards. On other ships, they’ll use their boarding passes to board the ship and receive their key cards at their staterooms. Embarkation time solely depends on how smoothly disembarkation goes. The ship is arriving from its previous voyage. Once the last guests have exited the ship, claimed their luggage, and cleared through customs, the ship will be ready for its newly expected guests. What’s the latest time to arrive at the terminal? Guests should arrive no later than two o’clock. Guest should allow themselves time to unwind before the lifeboat muster drill.

4) Will we able to have lunch in the main dining room? Unfortunately, the dining room is closed during embarkation time. Once guests are successfully checked in, they can proceed aboard the ship and enjoy lunch at the buffet upstairs. On larger ships, there are alternative locations on board to have lunch. The buffet upstairs can get quite crowded throughout the afternoon. If guests need to follow up on dining concerns such as food allergies, changing their table assignment, or changing their dining time, they need to speak with the head waiter as soon as possible. The dining room is open until three o’clock, before the start of the lifeboat muster drill.

3) When will we be able to get into our staterooms? Once safely aboard the ship, guests are invited to enjoy lunch at the buffet upstairs or at one of the alternative eateries available on board. Staterooms are usually ready for occupancy at one o’clock. Until then, guests may explore the ship at their leisure. They may tour the spa, the youth activity area, enjoy a few drinks at the bars, and sign up for shore excursions if not already done so. Once the staterooms are ready for occupancy, the announcement will be made. Note: Guests are encouraged to go light on the carry-on luggage, so not to stress themselves out. Sailing day is supposed to be exhilarating, not excruciating.

2) What do we do with regards to our on board credit? This is an honest question. It’s asked hundreds of times. To answer it appropriately, on board credit is often confused with the on board charge account. They are two completely separate things. At the check-in counter, the guests must make sure that they have a payment method registered for their on board charge account. This is for all on board purchases-drinks, souvenirs, excursions, etc. Guests can take care of their on board credit at the guest services desk. This should be done first thing, as soon as they board the ship.

1) Do we have to attend the lifeboat muster drill? Of all questions asked on sailing day, this one is a no-brainer. Yes, all guests are required to attend the lifeboat muster drill. The drill takes place within the hour prior to sailing time. The lifeboat muster drill is required by International Maritime Law and in accordance with the rules and regulations known as SOLAS (Safety of Lives At Sea). When the announcement is made, all guests must proceed to their lifeboat muster assembly stations. They must also bring along their stateroom key cards. During the lifeboat muster drill, attendance is taken.

Cruising is indeed both a fun and educational traveling experience. It’s the most exciting way to see the world in one week or more. Despite the pomp and circumstance, sailing day is the day which all guests look forward to. On sailing day, the questions are numerous. However, guests ask the same five infamous questions. All guests should arrive before eleven o’clock. The buffet is always available for lunch during embarkation time. One o’clock is when the staterooms are open for occupancy and enjoyment. Yes, all guests must attend the lifeboat muster drill. Yes, on any sailing day, all questions are good questions. Questions transform curiosity into gratification. Above all, questions turn guests’ uncertainty into a day of resoluteness.

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 ProwsEdge.com, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, Whistlestop.Amtrak.com. David also writes for the publication Examiner.com. On Examiner.com, 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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