Many first time cruisers not only have questions about what they should expect to happen during their actual cruise, they also have plenty of questions on what to expect before they actually board their dream ship.
If you're flying into your cruise port from out of town, consider purchasing a transfer from the cruise line. A transfer will cost you an average of $30 per person. The cruise line will request your flight information and have a shuttle waiting for you at the airport to take you and your bags to the cruise terminal. Transfers can be purchased round trip or one way. If you're arriving from out of town, this is the safest way to make sure that you won't miss your boat. Remember, cruise lines have no obligations to wait for you should your flight be delayed. However, they will wait for you if you've purchased your transfer from airport to cruise ship through the cruise line.
You can also drive yourself to the port. There is a charge to park at the port. In Miami its about $20 per day. New York's pier charges $40 per day at the time this article was written. Prices are high, so you might want to consider asking a friend or family member for a favor and have them drop you off. Just remember to bring them back a souvenier.
So, let's say you decided to drive. When you arrive at the port, don't immediately park your car. Drive up to the drop off point and drop off your bags, your kids and your significant other. No need in making everyone walk back from the parking garage. The family can wait for you right where you dropped them off. This avoids you not having to luch them and your bags across the parking garage. At this point, surrender your bags to the porter. Porters will tag your bag, make sure that you have all your necessary travel documents handy, so that they can write down your cabin number and all other pertinent information. Don't forget to tip the porters. Usual tip is about $1 to $2 per bag). You'll see your bags later in the day, nicely placed in your cabin. A reminder folks. Keep medicines and other important items with you at all times in your carry on.
Once your bags are dropped off, proceed to park your vehicle. Take your parking garage ticket with you. Make a note on your ticket as to where you parked your card, i.e., "third floor near elevator". Walk yourself over to the terminal for check in hand and fancy free.
Check in at the port works similar to that at an airport. No need to remove shoes or belts but do expect to be thoroughly scanned. So, now you've gotten through security and you're making your way to the check-in line. This is where all those travel documents will come in handy. By this point, you or your travel agent should have checked you in on-line. This would have entailed providing the cruise line with travel documentation numbers, etc. Having done precheck-in on line makes this step a little quicker. Walk up to the representative, show them your paperwork, necessary travel documents and get ready to have a great time.
From this point on, you're vacation has pretty much started. You'll be whisked away to the cruise line photographers that are anxiously waiting to photograph you in front of a large big photograph of your ship. Say cheese!
Have a great time on your vacation!