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A few suggestions for embarkation day

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Its finally here, you've planned, you've patiently waited and now the day has come for you to board and sail away on your cruise. Most of us long-time cruisers have a ritual on what to do and what to see on embarkation day. Here are some of my favorites:

Definitely start your vacation with some kind of a tropical drink. It's not free but it will certainly set the mood. Not big on booze? Then, opt for a non-alcoholic drink, a cold soda or some sparkling water. Want to keep it cheap? Choose a regular drink that doesn't come in a souvenier glass.

Do yourself a favor and give yourself the grand tour of the ship. Get to know the ship before it set sail. You are sure to find great restaurants and lounges, little places to sit with great views. We always recommend you start on the top deck and work your way down. Elevators can be slow and packed on day of embarkation, so start at the top deck and work your way down via the stairwells.

Take lots of photographs. Take photographs of your cabin before you unpack and it turns into a college dorm.

Unpack as soon as humanly possible. Decorate your cabin door with a balloon or some kind of a banner. This will help you find your cabin easier when you've had one too many and are making your way back from the night club.

Make it a point to meet your cabin steward. Make any requests of him or her on the first night. Now is the time to ask for extra pillow or blankets, a few more bottles of shampoo, ice in your ice bucket, or a complimentary toothbrush to replace the one you forgot at home.

Make your way to the spa and salon and schedule those treatments right away. Do the same with any specialty dining venue. If you haven't already made dining plans, you might find that some cruise lines offer discounts to passengers who are willing to dine specialty restaurant on the first night of the cruise. This is also true for shore excursions and the kids club area. Get those registrations done so that you don't have to deal with it during your cruise.

Consider taking a dip in the pool or spend some time in the whirlpool. On the day of embarkation, most pools and whirlpools are generally empty. Take a change of clothing in your carry-on bag and enjoy a little tranquility before the crowds start.

Make your way to the sail-a-way party. These are always fun, featuring live music, drinks and great views of your departure port.

Make an effort to stay away from the buffet area. Many passengers board the ship and head straight there. It's one of the noisiest, busiest places on embarkation day. If you're not accustomed to the atmosphere, it could really set a terrible tone and mood for the rest of your vacation. I suggest you try finding different dining options. You might be surprised to find venues open which are far less crowded.

Whatever you do on embarkation day, remember to pack lots of patience because you are definitely going to need it.

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