If you’re anything like me, the first day of a cruise is probably your favourite. It comes with all the excitement of being on vacation, checking everything out, exploring your cabin, discovering cool things to do, sorting your specialty dining options… Getting ready to relax and enjoy.
On the flip side, the last day is likely your least favourite! However, there are things that need to be done, and if you’ve never cruised before, you may not be aware. So, here’s some tips on what do to on the last day of a cruise, so you can relax and enjoy those final cocktails!
Every cruise line operates their check out procedures a little differently. Even if you’ve cruised before, you should check the paperwork which is put into your cabin as things can and do change.
This info will confirm your onward travel plans, and advise your departure time and coded group in order for you to make your flight/transfer. Obviously this is important information, so make sure you check it well, against your flight tickets or itinerary.
If you want more info on correct documents to pack, check out this post: First Time Cruise Checklist
There are usually two ways of your luggage tags being managed. Either the coded tag will be left on your bed one or two nights before departure, or you will be given a time slot to go and collect the tags which will be notified in the daily newsletter.
If you need to change these, make sure you visit Guest Services before the final night, as the queue will be insane!
Remember you also have the option of taking your own luggage off the ship if you wish. This often puts you into the ‘first off’ category, which is helpful if you have an early flight or plans. Just make sure you are able to carry everything yourself as crew won’t be available to assist you.
Check your accounts
Hopefully you’ve been keeping an eye on your account throughout your cruise – it’s easily available through your stateroom television. However, if you haven’t, this is your last chance to get it sorted. Trying to sort it on the last night or disembarkation morning will be a nightmare. Check that drinks packages are priced correctly, and cancelled shore excursions have been refunded, or that facial on special was actually discounted.
If you’ve had your eye on that handbag or watch, now is the time to go buy it! The retail team have targets they have to meet and they know at the end of the cruise how far off they are! So don’t be afraid to negotiate and you never know what amazing deal you can walk away with!
If you’re on an international cruise, you will have access to duty-free prices too which can be a huge saving compared to your prices at home, especially on things like alcohol. Just remember to not go over your country’s allowance, and don’t forget to collect the bottles after you have left the ship, as they may hold on to them for collection with your luggage the following day.
If you enjoy a flutter in the casinos when you’re on board, you’ll know that their opening times work with the itinerary, as they need to be a certain distance away from land before they’re allowed to operate. Which means they are never open in port, and if you wait until the morning of departure to try to cash out – you’re out of luck!
Make sure you collect your winnings the night before, it’s usually pretty quiet on the final evening as people tend to go to bed early so this is a great time to cash in those cards.
Want to know what else is available on a ship? Check out these 13 best cruise activities you should try!
Future cruise booking
As someone who worked in Cruise sales for many years, I’m a huge advocate for booking your next holiday whilst still on board. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked to honour the offer they got, but couldn’t make a decision, so now they’re home and want to take it up – well, too bad!
The offers are usually super flexible, you can generally change the date, the ship, the itinerary and you have plenty of time to do so, and you’ll get an offer which will exceed anything you can get on land. The part I love the most is that this booking will be passed back to your original Travel Agent so they can continue to manage everything for you from home – winning!
Confirm Flight Details
This should definately be on your list of things to do on your last night of a cruise. Take a minute to check over your departure documents. Do you need to check-in for your flight? Is your Travel Agent looking after this for you? Have your requested seats already been booked? How are you getting to the airport?
The guest services team on board can help you if you’ve booked flights through the cruise line, and there will always be an internet cafe for you to jump online to confirm everything yourself if needed.
I know, this is literally the worst part of your final day right? Try not to let it take up too much time and waste your precious last hours on board. Instead of leaving it to the evening and missing the farewell events, try to get the majority of your packing done during the day so all you have to do is throw your evening wear in before you go to bed.
If you are putting your bags outside your cabin for collection, don’t forget to keep out your toothbrush, a change of clothes, medications and your passport/docs.
The dress code for the last night of a cruise will usually be casual, understanding that you will have packed and probably already put your bags out, so don’t stress over your outfit, just make the most of your last night on board!
Need help with what to pack for a cruise? Check out these expert tips so you don’t forget anything!
Gratuities / Recognition
‘Gratuities’ is like a swear word in Australia. I couldn’t believe the backlash I’d receive daily about it. Especially after working in the UK which is also not a big ‘tipping’ nation, but over there they generally understand this is just how it works on cruise ships and happily pay it…in Australia they will find any way possible to avoid it.
So I like to explain that these crew members are working for up to 9 months at a time, without a day off, away from their families, to make sure that you and your family have the most incredible holiday. They will remember your name, your favourite drink, whether you prefer still or sparkling water with dinner, and will try to exceed your expectations in every way. If you did this all day long for other people, wouldn’t a little appreciation go a long way for your job satisfaction?
Another way to recognise a crew member is to mention them by name in the feedback forms. This gains them bonuses and promotions and a shout-out by their managers publicly, so please don’t skip these forms, they are vitally important to the crew.
No more sleep-ins! Don’t forget to set your alarm or request a wake-up call for the last night of a cruise. Your body clock probably won’t be used to this early start and you really don’t want to miss your transfer or flight!
Allow yourself plenty of time to actually disembark the ship if you have made your own plans. I’ve been waiting in line over an hour just to leave one of the mega-lines… only to stand in further queues for a taxi. It’s a stressful end to a holiday you just don’t need!
Depending on the cruise line and the time you need to depart, it can be a little chaotic on departure morning. Make the most of your last hours by finding somewhere quiet to enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat before your onward travels if you can. The buffet will be insane. Unless you need to grab and run, I recommend you avoid it at all costs.
Instead, head to the dining room where it will be a lot quieter and more sedate! Even if all you want is a coffee and pastry, it may still be worth it for some peace before you depart.
The last day of a cruise may have some chores attached to it, but it’s still your holiday! Make sure you enjoy it and don’t stress the ‘admin’!
I hope you found this post useful. Do you have any tips for what to do on your last day of a cruise? What are your biggest challenges?
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I’m always grateful! Feel free to leave me any feedback and share the post if you think it will be useful to your friends 🙂
See you next time
Wendy A x
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