• Connie George

Do These 9 Tasks on Your Last Day of Cruising to Cruise Like a Pro

three straight white couples waiving from behind ship railing blue sky

Sadly, “all good things come to an end,” and that’s especially true when you know your cruise will soon be over. Knowing what you must do before disembarkation day will reduce your stress and enable you to get the most out of your last 24 hours. THAT is “cruising like a pro.”

Nine chores may sound like a lot, but some may not apply to you. If you are aware of them, you can be organized to complete them quickly. My goal with this post is to prepare you so you can squeeze every last bit of fun out of that last day and night, enabling you to get the most of what you want out of your vacation budget. THAT also is “cruising like a pro.”

paper with columns of information brown luggage tag with Princess Cruises logo
Watch for disembarkation information such as this list of disembarkation groups and color-coded tags for instructions and accuracy to coincide with your travel plans.


Be better prepared for your disembarkation, luggage service, and other details and opportunities by reviewing materials that your cabin steward or butler previously put into your cabin or suite. Look this morning to see if there are any papers that you may have missed. You may find helpful tips or possibly have overlooked something that you will now have to have corrected.

The information available in advance includes where and when you may need to meet to exit the ship the next day. You want to be sure the time fits your needs and that you have the correctly color-coded baggage tags to match your next day’s travel plans. If this needs to be fixed, your chances are better if addressed with Guest Services as early as possible.

cup of coffee paper clips pencils airline app on cell phone
If you are flying home on disembarkation day, check in for your flight on the last day of the cruise.

Airline Check-In

If you will be flying home the next day, use your phone or tablet to check-in and get your mobile boarding pass. Or use the ship’s Internet Café to check-in and print your boarding pass. Not checking in could result in you losing your seat assignments or even the cancellation of your flight reservation.

cartoon man in pajamas and robe carrying smiley face coffee cup newspaper rabbit slippers
When putting your luggage outside your cabin the last night of the cruise, keep an outfit for the next day out so you don't have to wear your pajamas off the ship.

Bags Out

Unless you are going to “walk-off” the ship with all of your luggage, you will have a deadline by which you must have your luggage outside the door of your cabin. Before placing your luggage outside your door, be sure to attach the color-coded baggage tags that the cruise line gave to you. That’s vital to your being able to find your luggage after disembarkation.

The deadline for putting your bags out is typically 10pm or 11pm though I have had it as late as midnight. Your luggage will be collected, and you’ll catch up with it the next day in the port terminal. Which also means, if you do not keep out an outfit for the morning, you’ll be walking off the ship and into the terminal in your PJs! Keep a carry-on bag with you in the cabin with any toiletries, clothing, and other items you’ll need through the night and in the morning.

two men and two women holding fanned out paper bills
Cash out your casino chips ot tickets by your last night.

Cash In

If you’ve been enjoying the casino, be sure to cash in any chips or tickets before they close on your last night. The casino will not be open before disembarkation on the following day.

calculator pink piggy bank coins
Check your shipboard account for accuracy on the last day.

Check Your Account

It’s much easier to resolve account issues on the ship before your credit card is charged than it is to address them after you are home and your bank card has been charged. Cruise lines have various ways in which you can check your account. They may include checking your account on your cabin TV, on the cruise line’s cell phone app, with the Guest Services Desk, or at a kiosk near that desk. If you see any discrepancy, work with Guest Services today or tonight. The line can be long on the morning of disembarkation.

“Cruise pros” check their ship account multiple times during their cruise so they can catch any potential errors more timely. They know that errors don’t happen often, but they can happen.

If you have shipboard credit that won't carry on past your sailing, be sure to use it for a treat (or two!) before the boutiques close.

Use Your Onboard Credits

Do you have Onboard Credits, also known as Shipboard Credits? Some types of credits can be refunded after a cruise, but most of them tie in with promotional prices and do not carry over. If you have “use it or lose it” credits, be sure to go buy something fun. My “cautionary tale” is that I realized about 10:30pm on the last night of a cruise that I had about $100 in credits that had not been used. I quickly dressed and ran down to the shops, only to find that they had already closed. I lost out on a quick $100 shopping spree. <sigh>

green Jameson Caskmates bottle
Bottles of alcohol purchased aboard the ship or brought aboard in port will be delivered to your cabin the last evening of your cruise.

Receive Your Souvenir Liquor

If you purchased alcohol onboard or in a port, it was stored for you during your cruise. Staff will deliver it to your cabin, often before 9pm.

woman wearing pink hat and glasses peaking over the top of a blue book
Books, games and beach towels borrowed from the ship must be returned.

Return to the Ship’s Stuff

If you enjoyed any of the books or games from the library, please return them by your last evening. Likewise, if you still have one of the ship’s beach towels that was supposed to be returned to the pool area, return it by the afternoon. I’ve seen lines list a $20 - $40 fee for their beach towels for unreturned towels.

hand with thumb up wearing bohemian bracelets
Be sure to recognize your favorite hard-working crew members on the last day.

Recognize Favorite Crew Members

Even if you prepaid your gratuities or have them charged to your cabin, you may wish to show appreciation to your favorite crew members. There are three ways to “share the love” with exceptional ship staff on your last day:

  1. Extend an extra tip individually and deliver it in person. With very few exceptions in the industry, crew members are permitted to accept additional gratuities and are always appreciated.

  2. Write a note to them. I try to remember to bring some small note cards with envelopes. I’ll use the card to deliver an additional tip and may include a more personal message I’d like to write to that person. i.e. “I appreciate all you did for me this week, particularly keeping my ice bucket full. I’m glad your contract ends early enough for you to enjoy your son’s graduation while you are on break. I hope to see you again on future cruises.”

  3. If the line has “Crew Comment Cards,” fill out the crew member’s name and why they were exceptional. Princess Cruises has small "Consummate Host" cards at their Guest Services desk on which you can list a crew member and why theywere outstanding. These types of comments go a long way in the person’s recognition, advancement, and perhaps a perk.

By knowing what you need to do on the last day of your cruise, you’ll be able to take care of these responsibilities, so you can get back to your real job---- having fun like a cruise pro!

Would you like more tips? One of the many advantages of booking through a good travel specialist instead of online is sharing our expertise with you.

Happy Traveling!


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