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Basic Cruise Information: Navigating a Cruise Ship

  • When it comes to taking a cruise the last thing you need to worry about is the difference between portside and starboard. (Here's a clue: The easy way to remember that port is left is that both terms have the same number of letters!)
  • Thankfully, cruise lines offer several ways for landlubbers to get quickly oriented on board so that their vacation at sea can begin right away!
  • For example, most cruise lines will escort passengers to their cabins, so don't worry about finding your quarters upon arrival.
  • Inside your cabin you’ll find everything you’ll need to know through the remainder of the cruise: deck plans, programs, and cards verifying details for amenities like dining arrangements. Take a quick scan. These documents will be prominently displayed in your cabin.

Let's discuss the previously mentioned documents.

  • Deck plan: Allows you to create a mental map of your own. You'll become the expert on where the nearest elevator, eatery, casino, common area or infirmary is located.
  • Events program: Changes daily! There is always something to experience! During the day you'll be able to attend lectures maybe on nature or an upcoming shore exursion, arts and crafts workshops, and fitness and dance classes. At night the ship's entertainers come to life with Vegas and Broadway-styled revues or an array of music from classical to rock-and-roll. First-run films, games, and karaoke are also the perks and cun activities that can be a part of the ship's events!
  • The events program will also tell you how to book services you may be interested in, like massages or hair appointments.
  • Dining verification: Tells you when and where you'll be eating your major meals. There are usually at least three seatings (early, late and "my time") so should there be a glitch in the schedule contact the Maitre-D' as soon as possible to make appropriate changes.

Moving on...

  • While you're unpacking, tune into the video that should play non-stop on the ship's close-circuit television system during the day of embarkation. The video will assist you in getting acquainted with the ship by reviewing where facilities are, upcoming events, safety protocols and where the lifeboat stations are.
  • Safety is of the utmost importance for cruise lines. Like airlines there are procedures in place to get people off the vessel. Prior to leaving port passengers will go through a mandatory lifeboat drill. This will ensure you are familiar with the cruise ship's safety features in the event of an emergency.
  • Each cruise ship has its own unique configuation however, there are aspects that are common throughout.
  • The Lido Deck (made famous by The Love Boat series) is where casual dining takes place and is where the swimming pool can be found.
  • The center point of the ship, sometimes referred to as The Atrium, is a large common area that houses such spaces as the purser's office, show lounges, movie theaters, and other facilities.