(Read The Love Boat Bachelor: Write Integrity Press: Chapter Five Port of Call: Aruba)
At last, the day has arrived. Your bags are packed and tagged. Now, giddy with excitement and wide-eyed with all the new sights, sounds, and smells, you arrive at the pier. What’s next?
Tip 1: Dress in comfortable clothes, especially the shoes. The first thing you’ll do is drop your bag(s) at the terminal building’s entrance—all except your carry-on(s), that is. A porter will load your bigger stuff for delivery to your cabin later that afternoon.
Next, you’ll follow the masses inside the terminal building and line up in a queue. Remember, the cruise ship is a small city with anywhere from 1,800 to 4,000 passengers. On-boarding registration takes time. And patience.
Tip 2: While you’re in line, one of the cruise line personnel may hand out a health questionnaire. Anyone exhibiting or admitting to a recent illness will likely be examined by the ship’s doctor to determine the health risk, and if you can proceed. This is an important commitment to the health of passengers and crew alike.
Tip 3: At last, you reach the administration desk and are called forward by one of the agents. This is where you present your cruise ticket, passport, and credit card. (If you preregistered online, you might get to skip some of this part.) This is where you’ll receive your Sail & Sign card – the most important thing you’ll need while on your sailing vacation. Each cruise line has their own name for this card, but they all function the same way — as your identification, your credit card, your dining room table assignment, your room key, and your entry/exit card to get on and off the ship. I recommend you purchase an inexpensive lanyard in the gift shop, attach the card (and maybe your driver’s license when you go ashore), and wear around your neck. You can get the corner punched at the Information Desk, or get one with a plastic pouch.
Tip 4: You’ll get your picture taken (it will be embedded into the Sail & Sign) card, and then you’ll pose for a whole gamut of “scenic” photos. And finally, you’ll wind your way up the gangway to the ship. Be advised, the place will be a madhouse of confusion. Those who managed to board earlier will already be imbibing in their favorite beverages. Loud, boisterous, and packed is the name of the game.
Tip 5: Cabins are typically ready for you by the time you board. You can make your way there and drop your stuff off before you go exploring. If it’s not ready, find your way to the buffet deck (called the Lido on many ships), and enjoy a delicious lunch.
Tip 6: A mandatory safety briefing will be held before the ship sets sail. All passengers and many of the crew are required to participate in this drill. Your Sail & Sign card will show your emergency station. Your cabin steward will also advise of it, as well as the many crewmembers along the way. It’s a short, but necessary event, so be patient. Not long after, the ship’s horn will sound and you’re on your way!
Here’s a few more “Shore Excursions” I think you’ll enjoy from The Love Boat Bachelor:
Marji Laine’s blog: E-mail to Roselle: From Aruba
Joan Deneve: Interview on Quid Pro Quills
Julie Arduini: Least Likely Cruise Heroine Part 2
Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge: Port of Call: Aruba with Alyssa LaRoche