|Ah, sailaway! Even if you’ve been onboard for hours, sailaway is the official start to a cruise vacation. The lines are pulled in, the ship’s horn blasts, and you can feel your excitement grow as the vessel glides away from the pier and starts to pick up steam. It might be one of the best moments of the entire trip.
Yet so many people don’t give a thought to how they embrace this sailaway moment. You’re distracted by the muster drill, perhaps your luggage just arrived, and your thoughts have already turned to where you’ll get dinner and what to do on your first evening onboard. Get too bogged down in fighting over closet space and — bam! — you’re half way to the Bahamas.
What’s your sailaway style? Do you live it up to the fullest, mark it with a token gesture or skip it completely? If you don’t want to miss the magic moment on your next cruise, try one of these rituals to enhance your first few minutes at sea.
Ritual: Head to the ship’s top decks to join the crowds dancing by the pool or lining the balcony as you sail out of port. This is your chance to enjoy the party music while it’s fresh, before the oft-repeated opening strains of “Hot, Hot, Hot” make you want to cry. Just be sure you don’t drop your drink as you get your groove on.
Drink: the Drink of the Day (preferably a fruity, frozen cocktail) in a souvenir glass
Song: Pink’s “Get This Party Started”
Ritual: Skip the crowds, and cuddle up to your sweetie on your own private verandah. You get the same sailaway views of land slipping away without having to elbow your way to the railing. Just remember: other people can see you on your balcony, so don’t get too caught up in the moment.
Drink: Champagne or a glass of wine
Song: Rod Stewart’s “Sailing”
Ritual: Sailaway is a perfect time for memorable vacation photos. Some people pose for the same shot on every cruise.
Facebook fan Tania Mongar‘s husband “has to take his traditional ‘drinking a beer in front of the funnel’ pic on the first day of every cruise.” Other cruise travellers do the obligatory “drink in everyone’s hand” shot, or they wear matching T-shirts or outfits for that first group photo.
Drink: a bottle of beer — easy to hold while managing a camera
Song: Outkast’s “Hey Ya” (especially if you can “shake it like a Polaroid picture”)
Ritual: Why wait to fully embrace the relaxation that comes with a cruise vacation? Cruise Critic editor Brittany Chrusciel waxes poetic about enjoying sailaway from the thermal suite in a ship’s spa. Whether you’re soaking in a hot tub or getting Zen on a heated lounger, you can enjoy fabulous views while letting your stresses melt away.
Upside: You can be first in line when they announce the spa raffle winners. Downside: You might fall asleep and miss the sendoff.
Drink: herbal tea or fruit-infused water
Song: Enya’s “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)”
Ritual: Some folks are too busy unpacking or exploring the ship from stem to stern to even notice that the ship has already left. You might pass them on the stairs and overhear a confused “wait, is the ship moving?” If you plan to miss sail away, at least do it with intention: Throw open your window curtains as you unpack, or take a detour via the promenade deck as you make your way around the ship.
Drink: Red Bull — these travellers are on the go!
Song: Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop”
Ritual: Maybe it’s cold outside, or maybe you like a bit of peace and quiet, but if you’re like Cruise Critic editor Ashley Kosciolek, you enjoy sail away from the ship’s library or a quiet lounge — any place with large windows, small crowds and comfy seating.
Drink: something to sip like a latte or a gin & tonic
Song: Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea”
Ritual: You just have to stick it to all your non-cruising friends: You’re on vacation while they’re hard at work. So do as Cruise Critic editor Gina Kramer does, and take a selfie to quickly post to your favorite social media site before your land-based mobile service cuts out. Eat your heart out, Facebook.
Drink: anything with bright fruity colours and an umbrella on top for full effect
Song: “If My Friends Could See Me Now” from Sweet Charit
22 Do’s and Don’t’s for Your First Day Onboard a Cruise Ship
A muster drill that’s life-saving and lively
Have you have used your cell phone or tablet during a cruise ship safety demonstration?
During a recent muster drill, a crew member stopped me from using my phone to send a tweet. No pun intended: It was the right call. Passengers are supposed to be paying attention to the safety message.
Except that there were long stretches when nothing happened. No instruction, no videos, nothing but waiting. Some sort of communication seemed to be happening behind the scenes. And granted, sometimes it takes more than a few minutes for everybody to report to their assigned muster stations. But in the meantime, passengers are cooling their heels.
Getting attention for routine safety messages is a problem that has plagued many companies in the business of transportation. On every flight, airline personnel are required to tell passengers something that most of them have already heard. The natural impulse for most listeners is to tune it out. Social media and portable devices (cameras not forgotten) are just the latest means of avoiding a mind-numbing couple of minutes.
The recent fire on Grandeur of the Seas offers a reminder of why it’s worth it to pay attention to the safety message. Passengers roused at 2:50 a.m. had at least some idea of what was happening, where to go, what to do.
And of course one of the lessons from the Costa Concordia tragedy, which occurred just hours after leaving an embarkation port, was the need to conduct a muster drill before sailing and to compel every passenger’s participation during the drill.
But still, some thought and effort should go into the presentation of these life-saving exercises. Perhaps some sort of interactivity is called for. Or a quiz at the end. A cruise credit for the passenger that correctly demonstrates they’ve been paying attention.
Cruise lines also owe it to passengers to make the drill as effective as possible. Please keep it moving, to minimize the boredom. Make whatever is said audible, especially announcements on the ship’s public address system.
And try to involve the crew in communicating to small groups of guests. The more personal the safety demonstrations are, the more attention and respect they will command.
And now one long tone signals the end to the muster drill. Back to your phones!