Summertime is just weeks away. The cruising season is just as booming as it is during the winter months, known as high season. Come summer, schools will be out. The youngsters will be out. They undoubtedly cannot wait to escape the classroom and the dreaded homework. Even adults can’t wait to get away from work and the stresses of the office. Believe it or not, everyone’s in the same ‘boat’. The one element that guests don’t realize is that on any cruise, the unexpected can happen. Whether on sailing day, mid-cruise, or during disembarkation, the least expected situations can occur. Not everything turns up rosy! What are some of the unexpected matters that could happen during a cruise? Here are just a few.

Sailing day: Sailing day is the most exciting day of any cruise vacation. Sailing day is the day all guests have been waiting for. From checking their luggage in with the longshoremen, to checking in with the shore staff, to getting their embarkation portrait photos taken, the energy only escalates. The energy reaches its peak when guests are finally boarding the vessel. Yes, that’s the happy side. Unexpectedly, the US Coast Guard makes an unannounced visit to the cruise terminal. Unexpectedly, guests are forced to wait longer than normal than advised by the cruise line. The US Coast Guard will do a crew inspection. During the inspection, the US Coast Guard instructs the ship’s crew to carry out one of a handful of drills. It could be a “man overboard” drill, a fire drill, or an emergency drill in the event should guests need to ‘abandon ship’. Better safe than sorry! One other unexpected event that can occur on sailing day is the ship conducting an extended health inspection. The pandemic may be long over, but Norovirus is still the #1 health threat onboard cruise ships. The ship may have encountered a Norovirus scare during its previous cruise. Once the last guests have disembarked the ship, the ship’s staff does a thorough cleaning of every stateroom and public space onboard. To ensure a healthy sailing day and lively voyage for the newly expected guests, this extended cleaning is necessary.

Mid-cruise: What unexpected matters could possibly happen mid-cruise? It’s paramount for guests to adapt the mindset that anything can happen. Mid-cruise, particularly while at a non-US port-of-call, the senior officers will conduct an emergency drill for the ‘crew only’. Guests will hear the announcements on the ship’s P.A. Guests are not required to attend this drill. When this drill is about to commence, guests must not be alarmed. They can go about their normal activities while the crew are carrying out their exercise. Mid-cruise, a medical emergency can occur. In respect to this situation, the ship will need to divert off its itinerary and evacuate the guest or crew member. The patient will need to be evacuated at the closest port city or the ship will turn back to its previous port-of-call. Once tied up at the pier, the patient is evacuated. It’s totally predicated upon the level of emergency. In case of such events, guests should go about their usual activities. Should any schedule changes be made, the cruise director or the captain will say so. Should these mid-cruise disruptions affect arrival at home port, the cruise line will do its best to accommodate guests’ with their departure information. Mid-cruise, all guests should maintain their “calm face” at all times.

Disembarkation day: Disembarkation day can be hectic. Disembarkation day is the day which guests dread. It is the day they’re leaving the ship and headed home. What unexpected events can happen during the disembarkation phase? Believe it, anything can happen. One unexpected matter is an occasional delay in the customs hall. Sometimes, too many guests are in the luggage and customs hall. When this occurs, US Customs Officers struggle to efficiently process guests. This may cause a backup onboard ship. This often results in guests worrying whether or not they’ll miss their transfer to the airport or train station. Further, they may end up worrying that their limousine driver will lose his/her patience in the process. Last, but not least, luggage can get jumbled in the luggage hall. Luggage is either tagged by color, number, or by character (i.e. Disney). Sometimes, the numbers can get mixed up, or the colors may get confused. Light Blue may get mixed up with Lavender. Purple may get mixed up with Dark Blue. Pink may get mixed up with Cream. This doesn’t happen often, but guests must be aware of this unexpected ordeal. Should guests’ be missing luggage, they should immediately approach a member of the shore staff in the luggage hall. Once having done so, the shore staff can comb through the luggage hall for the missing pieces of luggage. While in the luggage hall, guests must remember the rhyme, “Check your tags, count your bags”.

Cruising, without a doubt, is the ultimate summer vacation experience. During the summer season, there’s no shortage of excitement. However, there is no shortage of unexpected situations. Guests must keep in mind that the unexpected can happen. On sailing day, embarkation can be delayed due to a US Coast Guard crew inspection. There could be an extended ship cleaning. Mid-cruise, a guest or crew member may come down ill and will need to be evacuated. During disembarkation, guests may encounter the situation when their luggage gets misplaced in the luggage hall. The customs process may get backed up, causing a delay onboard ship. Guests must take such situations seriously, however, they must not stress. From the very moment they leave their home, to the moment they’re onboard, to the juncture when they disembark, they’re on vacation. As during any vacation, guests must expect the unexpected. That being said, guests keeping their ears open and eyes peeled goes a long way.

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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