Do these 6 things the first day on your cruise

You've planned the trip, booked shore excursions, traveled for miles and your cruise vacation has finally arrived.  The embarkation excitement is palpable - you take the optional boarding photo with the crew, walk the gangway to swipe your entry card, meet fellow passengers along the way and attend to your stateroom.  Now that you've arrived - what's next? 

In order to start your vacation the best possible way, be sure to do the following 6 things on your first day and then its smooth sailing.

1.  Avoid the buffet.  The boarding process to get everyone on the ship takes several hours. More than likely your stateroom will not be ready and after a long day of traveling you are probably hungry.  Majority of passengers head straight to the buffet - and the bar. Although tempting, do yourself a favor and scout out one of the smaller restaurants on the ship or around the pool to grab a bite, relax and enjoy.

2.  Explore the ship.  Today's mega ships are so big and confusing it can take a couple days to get a good understanding of how to get around.  So tour the ship, walk the promenade, stop by the restaurants to see the menus, peruse the gift shop and more.

3.  Schedule your appointments.  If you haven't already made them prior to boarding, schedule your specialty dining reservations, visit the spa to inquire about services and appointment times, and stop by the fitness center to book a class.  All ships offer a selection of daily group classes that fill up quickly.   

4.  Buy the drink package.  Admittedly I am not a huge fan of the drink packages, but it does make the process of buying alcohol and soda a lot easier.  It can be a bit of a sticker shock, but once you pay, your done thinking about it.

5.  Lounge by the pool - weather permitting.  Most passengers will wait for a couple hours for their luggage - instead plan ahead.  Pack your swimsuit and sandals in a carry on so you can enjoy your afternoon by the pool.

6. Don't miss the sail-away. Watch the land drift away from your private balcony, the top deck or the pool area. Shortly afterwards all ships will have a spectacular show to celebrate the beginning of the cruise. 

Happy sailing.

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