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What to expect when you embark on a cruise ship - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Places to Visit

Many people now combine a stay in Orlando, with all its wonderful attractions, with a cruise to the Caribbean or the Bahamas. It is a great way to finish a visit to Orlando, and offers a complete contrast to all the excitement of the parks, and the numerous delights of shopping, or just relaxing in a beautiful villa with a pool.

I cannot describe the excitement we still feel when we finally arrive at the port and embark on our cruise ship. We are always impatient to get on board, so once all the check in formalities are completed, we look forward to our first glimpse inside our gleaming cruise ship.

You will probably be directed along a corridor in the terminal building and across a covered walkway into the very heart of the ship. Once on board, security staff will scan your very important Cruise Card, and your photograph will be taken and implanted within it. Your Cruise Card not only allows you to enter your stateroom, but it acts like a credit card, and all purchases can be made with it on board. However, one of its most important roles is that of security. Your identity is checked each time you disembark or embark the ship, and this helps ensure that, not only do they know when all passengers are on board, ready for sailing, but it prevents unauthorized persons from gaining access to the ship.

Numerous staff will be waiting to greet you in their pristine uniforms, and you will be directed to your stateroom - if it is available - or up to the buffet restaurant where a delicious lunch will await you. If your stateroom is not ready, and ours was not available until 1.00 pm, then you can relax here and enjoy your first meal – one of many gastronomic delights which await you. As we usually arrive early, and there are few other people on board, it is also an ideal opportunity to explore the ship, and take photographs.

During the afternoon, your luggage should arrive, but bearing in mind that the ship has thousands of items of luggage to deliver, this can take some time. However, we usually find it arrives quite soon after we embark. Occasionally, items go missing but they usually turn up in the wrong stateroom, and it is a highly efficient operation. After thoroughly exploring your stateroom, and reading the information provided, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the luxury. Everything is thought of for you. At this stage, your Cabin Steward or Stewardess is probably waiting in the corridor to introduce himself or herself, and this is an opportunity to make any special requests. You may want extra pillows or another blanket, and they will speedily ensure that these are provided. They will also direct you to the sign telling you which Muster Station you have been assigned to, and show you your all-important lifejackets, which you will need for the compulsory boat drill, later in the afternoon.

This has, by law, to be performed before the ship leaves port, and it is taken very seriously. At the designated time the ships alarms will be sounded, and you will be asked to return to your stateroom to collect your lifejackets, those bright orange ‘Mae Wests’. When you arrive in your stateroom your cabin steward will have laid them out on your beds, ready for you to pick up. Make sure you memorise where your Muster Station is located.

When we first started cruising the Caribbean, many cruise lines required you to stand outside on the deck, behind the lifeboat which you had been assigned to. However, nowadays, it is more common for you to assemble in a lounge or dining room, where the captain will address the passengers and the ship’s company, and the ship’s crew will stand by to help you put your lifejackets on correctly.

After a leisurely lunch, and maybe a tour of the ship, the alarm bells will sound around 4.00 pm. When these formalities are over, the real cruise is will begin, with a ‘Sail Away Party’ on the top decks. Most people either retire to their stateroom balconies to watch the ship leave, or they gather along the railings to watch the ship leave port.

With the sound of steel drums and calypso music, and with a glass of Pina Colada in your hand, you can stand and wave goodbye to Miami, as your ship makes her way down the waterway and out to sea, at the start of your wonderful cruise vacation.

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