10 Disembarkation Tips You Need To Know

10 Disembarkation Tips You Need To Know

It’s understandable to feel a little sad when disembarkation day arrives at the end of a fantastic cruise holiday, and you may not want to think about having to leave. However, there are several things that we recommend doing to make sure your disembarkation runs as smoothly as possible. 

Remember, the cruise line has to help (often) thousands of guests leave their ship, get correctly re-acquainted with their luggage and proceed through customs, so following their procedures and having a little patience will make the end of your cruise a little easier.

10. Allow enough time to get your flights

Disembarkation can take longer than you might imagine, sometimes with a few hours between arrival at port and leaving the ship. Make sure you take this time into consideration when booking your flights home, allowing enough time to disembark and get to the airport. If you are unsure, speak to your cruise line or cruise agent, who will be able to advise you.

If you have any questions about disembarkation or any other part of the cruise holiday process, please get in touch with our cruise specialists, who’ll be happy to help.


9. Have your passport and custom declaration forms ready as you leave the ship

Once you’ve disembarked from the ship, you’ll be guided to the terminal to collect your luggage. You’ll then need to pass through customs, so have your passport and custom declaration forms available for inspection.

8. Be aware of disembarkation timelines

Although your ship may arrive in port early in the morning, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to disembark straight away. Protocols at customs may mean you could remain on board for several more hours, so there’s no need to rush around first thing. 

Your approximate disembarkation time, along with your luggage labels, will be provided towards the end of the holiday. Stick to this time, as getting there early will not make the process any faster, and you’ll just end up waiting around.

7. Keep hold of your key card or cruise ID for a little longer

Don’t discard your key card on the day of disembarkation. You’ll need it for one final swipe as you leave the ship, checking you out for the last time. Once you’ve left, the card becomes deactivated. Although it still makes for a nice souvenir of your trip.

6. Check your cabin carefully

Make sure you haven’t left anything in places such as drawers, wardrobes and the balcony before leaving your cabin. And don’t forget the safe, where your passport and any valuables may have been stored. With the cruise line cleaning the room once you’ve left, it can be very tricky to find anything you’ve left behind, and you don’t want the panic of a left-behind passport on disembarkation day!


5. Consider the option of self-assisted disembarkation

If you are travelling light, it may be worth opting for self-assisted disembarkation. This means that you keep your luggage in your cabin and carry it off yourself. The advantage of self-assisted disembarkation is that you are usually given the all-clear to leave the ship first – handy if you want to catch an early flight. However, do remember there will be stairs and gangways for you to negotiate.

4. Remember your colour-coded luggage tags

Your cruise line will provide you with colour-coded luggage tags if they are handling your baggage for disembarkation. These tags are usually delivered to your cabin towards the end of your cruise holiday. Don’t forget your colour code, as this denotes the area from which you’ll pick up your luggage in the terminal.

3. Pack any alcohol purchased carefully in your hold luggage

If you’ve bought bottles of wine or spirits from the onboard shops or in port, they are usually delivered back to you on your last day. Be sure to pack them securely in your hold luggage so they can be safely brought onto your flight.

2. Get packed and prepared the night before

Cruise lines often ask guests to vacate their cabins first thing in the morning on the final day, allowing them to prepare the rooms for their next guests. You are also normally asked to pack your bags and leave your luggage outside your cabin the night before, so you need to get prepared early.

Decide what you’ll need on disembarkation day and set it aside before packing your luggage. Remember to keep out things you’ll need to get ready in the morning, such as your toothbrush, toiletries, spare clothes, and underwear. Remember, it may be several hours or more before you see your luggage again at the terminal, so also keep aside things such as books or children’s toys to keep you and your family entertained. At the terminal, you can put items that cannot remain in your hand luggage when flying, such as liquids, back into your suitcase.

overpacked suitcase

1. Go through your cruise bill sooner rather than later

At the end of your cruise, you’ll receive a statement detailing everything you’ve spent that has been charged to your onboard account. This amount will automatically be taken from your credit card or debit account on the day of disembarkation. 

It’s worth checking this statement as early as possible. Disembarkation day is very busy, and you could face long queues at guest services if you leave any queries to the last minute. Some cruise lines now provide access to this information via their cruise app. Alternatively, you can ask for a printout in advance.

So these were our top 10 tips to make your next cruise ship disembarkation as smooth as possible.

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