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It’s your Celebrity Cruises embarkation day, and you likely want tips for smooth sailing as you board the ship. After all, you’ve dreamed of this vacation for a long time and want to make the most of it. We’ve cruised with Celebrity 23 times and are happy to share what you can expect on day one. Read on for our Celebrity Cruises embarkation day tips so you can make the most of every moment.

Embarkation day tips on Celebrity Cruises

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What is embarkation day?

People often ask, “What is embarkation day?” It’s only the very most best day ever! It’s the first day of your cruise vacation, the day you board (or embark) the ship.

Our first Celebrity Cruises embarkation day tip: start preparing early

Even before you think about packing, you should start prepping for your cruise. First, download the Celebrity Cruises app. On it you’ll find menus, restaurant and bar opening hours, and your cruise itinerary. As your cruise draws near, a list of activities and showtimes on board will also be available.

Celebrity Reflection theater performance

You can save events to your personal calendar so you don’t miss dining reservations, or the activities and events you’ve chosen. Using the app also allows you a virtually paperless embarkation day–details below.

Celebrity Cruises Embarkation Day tips Celebrity app

You also want to be sure you have everything you need for your cruise–swimsuits, sunblock, sunglasses, and hats. Oh, and magnets, too. Why? Because the walls of your cabin are made from metal so magnets make for a super-convenient way to hang and store things.

You’ll also want to know what NOT to bring. Prohibited items include sharp objects like knives, CBD oil/products, candles, travel steamers, heating pads, and extension cords. For a complete list of prohibited items, check out the prohibited items list on Celebrity Cruise’s FAQ page.

Celebrity Cruises prohibited items

Check in for your cruise in advance online

Forty-five days before your cruise, the online check-in window opens. You can then login to your Celebrity Cruises account (until three days before your cruise) and complete the simple check-in process. Just click on “Manage Trip” and select “check-in” from the dropdown menu that appears.

Celebrity Cruises Embarkation day website screenshot

This will open a form to complete and voila! You’re all set. You’ll have an “Xpress Pass” (boarding pass) available in your phone app or you can print it and bring with you to the port.

Celebrity Cruises Express Pass

When you check-in, you’ll choose a time to arrive at the pier. To ensure you have the arrival time of your choice, be sure to complete the check-in process early.

Print your luggage tags at home

A couple of weeks before your cruise, luggage tags will be available in your account. Print them at home and then bring them with you. We just put them in a file folder and keep them flat so they’re easy to carry while traveling.

Celebrity Cruises luggage tags

Just before heading to the ship on the morning of the cruise, you’ll want to fold them following the directions on the tag (the folds make the tags strong) and tape/staple them to your bags. Don’t do this any earlier as they aren’t needed and would be in the way. Pro-tip: Use THESE LUGGAGE TAG HOLDERS (paid link) to securely attach your tags to your bags.

Celebrity Cruises embarkation day tips: Fly in at least a day early

Can you imagine anything worse than being all ready for your cruise only to have airline delays prevent you from making it to the ship? If you’re flying to the port, we recommend coming in at least a day early so that you have plenty of time for planes to be late and for connections to be missed. Then, on embarkation day, you can wake up relaxed and ready for your big day!

Celebrity Cruises embarkation day airport

Fill out the health questionnaire

The day before your cruise, you’ll get a notification from the app that it’s time to fill out a health questionnaire. It’s about four questions long and you basically just confirm you’re currently feeling well (please be honest). Everyone must complete this questionnaire, so doing so as soon as it’s available is one of our main Celebrity Cruises (pre)embarkation day tips.


Tips for embarkation day on celebrity cruises

Do your homework

As long as you’re in the app the day before the cruise, take some time and scroll through the activities available on embarkation day. Note the things you’d like to try or see and make a plan. Know that raffles, contests, and giveaways all come with a sales pitch – so only go if you’re genuinely interested.

Heated loungers Celebrity Reflection spa

Arrive at your assigned time

During your online check-in, you’ll select a time to arrive at the port. This keeps things running smoothly and helps avoid large crowds in the terminal. Plan ahead so you can arrive at the port during your assigned time slot (or shortly thereafter). Also, be sure to attach your luggage tags right before going to the port. If you’re a little late, that’s okay, just don’t miss the ship.

boarding the celebrity beyond

Celebrity Cruises embarkation day tips: use porters for luggage

When you pull up to the curb at the terminal, porters will approach the car and ask to help with luggage. This is expected (and wonderful)! They’ll take your large luggage and make sure it gets onboard the ship. You won’t give them everything, though. You’ll want to personally carry on a small bag with valuables, medications, passports as well as anything else you might need to board the ship or that you’ll want right away (like a swimsuit).

finding porters at the cruise port

Bags left with porters will be delivered to the corridor outside your room by late afternoon. In 20+ cruises, we’ve never had a problem (or heard of a problem) with bags being lost in this system. If you happened to forget luggage tags, no worries, porters have those, as well. It’s typical to tip the porters a few dollars per bag.

It’s important to note that at some ports (like Seattle) more than one ship may share a terminal. At those ports, it’s very important to make sure you verify with the porter that s/he is collecting bags for your ship and not the other one. In Seattle, Celebrity helps you locate those porters by having a well-marked luggage drop area.

Celebrity Cruises bag drop

Don’t carry on large bags yourself

Some people like to carry-on their large suitcases but there’s no need. First, they can be tough to get through in-terminal security scanners. Second, (and more importantly) they take up a lot of room on elevators as people are boarding the ship and trying to get to their rooms. Experienced cruisers know that a little patience and a couple dollars to the porters makes the process easier for both you and those around you.

Head inside the terminal

You’ve arrived and dropped your bags, so what’s next? Time to go inside the terminal. At the door, pull up your Xpress Pass on your phone (or have the paper copy ready). You’ll show that to a person at the door along with your passport and they’ll let you in.

Then, you’ll head through security (kinda like at an airport but you can leave your shoes on) before moving along to the check-in counter. Because you checked-in on line, though, the process is simple. Basically they scan your Xpress Pass and your Passport and then point to where you go to board the ship.

Celebrity Cruises embarkation day tips check-in

If you are in The Retreat (suite class) you will enter through a separate area. You’ll help yourself to refreshments and have a seat. Someone will come to you with an iPad and check you in right there in the lounge.

Step aboard

Walk up the gangway, savoring the moment and anticipation! Your cruise vacation is finally beginning. Sanitize your hands, (someone will be there squirting sanitizer onto them) and then step aboard your fabulous ship. Feel the weight of the world slip off your shoulders. You made it!

walking up the gangway

Celebrity Cruises embarkation day tips: take care of business

Now that you’re on board, you have just a couple small things to do that are required of all passengers. We suggest taking care of them right away and then settling in for fun!

First, we recommend heading directly to your stateroom because your Sea Pass/room key will be at your room and you’ll need that to do about anything else on board. At your room, you can drop your carryons and even change for the pool if you’d like.

bedroom on royal suite on celebrity reflection

Also, while in your stateroom, you’ll find the safety briefing loaded onto the TV. Take a minute or two (literally, that’s all it takes) to watch the safety briefing so you know what to do in an emergency. Then, mark you’ve watched it on the screen using the remote. (You may also watch the safety briefing in the app once prompted the day you board.) You should also take a moment to store your passport, money, and other valuables in the safe in your room. Your Sea Pass is all you need to have with you while on the ship.

Don’t forget to report to your muster station

You have one more stop before the fun begins. On your Sea Pass, you’ll find your muster station number. Everyone in your group must personally check in there with a crew member before the ship can set sail. No worries: this process is simple, as well. Go to your muster station, find the crew member assigned to it (they’re easy to spot as they’ll be wearing a high-visibility vest) and hand them your Sea Pass. They will scan it, confirm you are who your card says you are, and ask if you have any questions. Then, you’re done. Time to enjoy all the fabulous things the ship has to offer.

muster station on celebrity cruise

Let the fun begin

You’re on board, you have your Sea Pass, you’ve finished your safety briefing. What now? Whatever you want. We typically arrive at the port as close to 11am as possible, so by the time we’ve been to our room and then muster station, it’s probably time for lunch. Lunch venues open at noon, and there are a variety of possibilities. Open restaurants include Oceanview Buffet, the Mast Grill, and the AquaSpa Café. Eden Café (Edge-Class ships only) is another great option.

avoid gaining weight on a cruise buffet veggies

Suite (Retreat) guests may go to the suites-only restaurant, Luminae, for a lovely sit-down lunch with full table service. Know that on embarkation day, our experience is that service can be slower than normal.

Retreat worth it Luminae shrimp pasta

Folks booked in Concierge Class are also invited to a special embarkation day lunch in the Main Dining Room. (Both Retreat and Concierge Class guests may choose from the other options, as well). Remember the coffee shop and bars are open, as well, so grab a coffee or cocktail if you’d like–after all, you’re on vacation!

martini bar on embarkation day

Celebrity Cruises embarkation day tips: go explore

The ship is a huge, beautiful place with tons of nooks, crannies, venues, bars, and restaurants and they’re all there for exploring. Take some time to find your way around. On most ships, lower decks like Decks 3-5 as well as the upper two or three tend to house public spaces. The middle decks generally have only staterooms, so you can skip those for the most part. That said, do consult a map of the ship so you don’t miss anything.

Lawn club alcove Celebrity Reflection

We always like to find our primary dining room, as well as the Spa, Fitness Center, Martini Bar and World Class Bar as we know we’ll be coming back to those places. We also check out the pool deck and solarium.

pool deck on celebrity relection

By doing this exploring, we learn our way around the ship which makes life easier throughout the week. Note that shops and the casino will not be open when the ship is in port due to local tax laws. Those venues will open once the ship is at sea.

Unpack your suitcase

Around 3 p.m., they’ll start delivering luggage to the hallway outside of staterooms. We head back to our room around this time, grab our bags, and take a few minutes to unpack and put things away. Cruise staterooms are carefully designed and you’ll find lots of spaces in which you can store things.

Celebrity Cruises embarkation day unpacking

Because your room is your home for the duration of the cruise, we recommend you take a few minutes to set it up the way you like it. Once unpacked, you can store your empty suitcase under your bed. We leave ours open and just throw dirty clothes into it throughout the cruise–it works really well.

Savor the sail away

Think ahead about where you want to be for sail away. It’s so exciting when the ship begins to move away from the dock and glide to sea. If you’re a people person, head up to the pool deck, (or the deck above). From there, the view is great and the Cruise Director will be there throwing one heck of a party.

John teget and his son, Steve teget

But if you like things a bit quieter, no problem. You can watch from your balcony, the Promenade Deck (usually around Deck 5), the top deck away from the pool, or the Sunset Bar (outside aft, near Oceanview Café).

Royal suite balcony Celebrity Reflection

With the ship now at sea, continue your explorations, take a dip in the pool, hit the shops and casino, sip a cocktail, or listen to some live music. Then, get dressed up and go to dinner. You can do anything you want. You’re on vacation, after all!

One final note: Please pack your patience

Embarkation day is a fun day, and all your fellow passengers are just as excited as you are. It’s a busy day, and elevators can be slow and lines can be long. Have a little patience and know that all of this will fade after everyone is onboard and settled in. Remember, you’re on a beautiful ship at sea and life is pretty darned good.

What do you look forward to most on embarkation day? Let us know in the comments below.

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