Lynda’s Tips – Before Boarding and Checking-in

Below is some information that I have found useful to give to those new to cruising – take as much or as little as you want from here. They are not rules, but just information that I have found helpful.

After Booking

Congratulations on booking a cruise, now some fun stuff you need to be aware.

After you have booked your cruise, either direct with the cruise line, thorough a travel agent or another way; you should be given some form of booking confirmation. The confirmation will include a Booking Number which is about six characters long and usually includes letters and numbers – it will look like something this X6GHB6 (this is not a real code, I have just made it up – do not put your real code online).

When you have this code, log in to the Online Check-in (Cruise Personaliser, Cruise Control, etc) on your cruise line website. You will need to check for the following things:

  • Check your names are exactly as shown in your passport (often travel agents get this wrong
  • Your personal details are correct
  • Your preferences / medical conditions are listed
  • Your emergency contact details are shown

Some of this information will be pre-populated from what the cruise line has on file, or that which has been input by your travel agent, some you will need to input. You will be able to update most of the information, if you can’t, you will need to go back to your travel agent to correct any errors.

Once you have paid in full and around 70 to 90 days before boarding, you will be able to selected a boarding time. Select what ever time is most suitable to you, I usually pick the earliest time available.

Your will also likely to be able to buy any tours or packages at this time though the on-line system. The reason you may wish to do this includes:

  • They are sometime cheaper on-line, than waiting to you are on-board
  • Some tour sell out on-line, so you can not buy on-board

Some cruise lines require you to pay when booking, some allow you to reserve the tour, which may be cancelled once on-board.

This is a good time to check your passport expiry date, your passport will need at least six months’ expiry after the end of your cruise.

You should then be able to print your tickets. These can include several things, including your bag tags.

Bag Tags

Bag tags need to go on any bag you will be using as checked luggage, no need to put them on carry on luggage. Check the details on the tags before putting them on your bag, then staple the tag to the main handle as shown in the picture below.


I have found the paper tags will be strong enough, and once you bag is delivered to you cabin, you can rip them off and through them away (you do not need to keep them for getting off the ship).


The ticket will probably say a check-in time, which usually starts from around 10.30am.

Plan to arrive at the terminal at least 30 minutes before your check in-time. When you arrive, take your checked luggage into the baggage drop off area, you will see it – just don’t put anything you might need in your checked luggage, such as passports, wallets/purses, cameras, phones, etc – keep them with you.

You will need to fill in a health questionnaire before checking-in – one for each person over the age of 18 (children go on their parent’s form).

The next step is to check-In. All people in your cabin need to check-in together. Join the line to check in. At check-in they take confirm you payment method (Credit Card, wtc), they will then give you your cruise card and some cruise lines take your photo at this stage. You need your passport for this process.


The check-in staff will give you a boarding pass, which is basically a numbered or lettered card which represents your boarding group (sometimes these are just written on your cruise ship directory – different ports have different means of doing this).

Then you just need to wait for your boarding group number to be called. You will proceed through the boarding process. They will check your passport again and make sure that the names exactly match the names on the cards.

Depending on the port will depend on the order of the next few stages, but you will go though:

  • x-ray and security like at an airport (take any laptops and iPads out of bags, remove everything from pockets, etc).
  • Customs and Passport control are usually next – you are now leaving the country! Usually the TRS is set up around here if you are claiming any GST back, look carefully for the sign. If you miss TRS, you may not be able to go back

Once all of the above is completed you usually have your embarkation photo taken. You are not charged to have your photo taken, but have to buy the photo. If you are new to cruising, get used to having your photo taken, it will happen many times on your cruise and sometime it is easier to let them take your photo.

Then all that is left to do is to walk up / along the gangway. The security staff will check your cruise card here again to make sure that the dates are correct, and then you are on the ship. Once onboard, the staff will scan your card into the system and you are now officially on holidays.

If you have difficulties finding your cabin, just ask a staff member. You bags will arrive in an hour or so, so go and have a drink and explore the ship

Enjoy your cruise!

We hope you found this helpful ?

Have we missed anything or got something wrong, if so please leave a comment below. If you would like us to post on another interesting topic, please let us know what topics you would like.


Lynda Barry

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