How to Check In for Cruise Before Sail Day

Knowing how to check in for cruise sailings before the sail date is a big help, especially if this is your first cruise ship vacation.

For those who have flown before, you have the advantage of the online check-in experience.

Similarly to airlines, cruise lines stopped issuing paper documents some time ago. When I took my first cruise in 2004, I received paper documents.  That has since changed.

You now print your boarding pass, receipt and even luggage tags online (although luggage tags are still available at the departure port).

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First Thing To Note About
How To Check In For Cruise

Cruise lines are required to submit a travel manifest with all outbound passengers to Homeland Security some time before departure.

Consequently, they urge all passengers to check in online before arriving at your cruise ship’s home port.

What To Expect When 
Checking In For Your Cruise Online

Checking in online is quite simple. Basically, you will need to create an account (if this is your first cruise with that line). The account registration generally calls for your name, email address and a password or booking ID.

After registering, you will follow the prompts to find your cruise sailing, using your booking ID number. From there on, follow the instructions.

Be prepared to provide emergency contact information, travel documents information and to set up your onboard account. This is the account to which charges made on the ship are billed. There is no cash exchanged on the ship, except probably for games like Bingo.

Depending on the cruise line, you will have an option to use a credit card or choose to deposit cash upon arriving onboard the ship, to set up your onboard account.

What Happens After Completing Online Check-in for Cruise

After you have completed the check-in process, you are ready to print out your cruise documents. You can print one boarding pass for all the passengers in a cabin.  Or, you may print individual passes. You are also able to print luggage tags (for most or all cruise lines).

In addition, registering at the cruise line’s website gives you the opportunity to see what else is available on that particular ship. You may purchase whatever else you need.

What Happens If You Do Not Check In Before Getting
To Port?

Note that you may check in online up to about two (2) days (varies by cruise line) before your ship’s departure. If for some reason you do not know how to check in for cruise sailings (no one told you, you didn’t read elsewhere or here), prior to reaching the port, do not panic.

You can check in at the port.

However, try to imagine thousands of people waiting on line to check in on sail day. That’s not a pretty sight!

If you are one of them, get to the port at least 90 minutes before departure.

Where to Check in For Cruise

Now that you know “how to check in for cruise sailings”, let’s help you with where to check in for your cruise.

Below are links to the websites of some of the more popular cruise lines. Click the link you need.






Holland America



Princess Cruises

Royal Caribbean

Travel Agents Help You Check In for Cruise

In addition to doing it yourself, you are generally covered with how to check in for your cruise vacation by your travel agent. 

If you're traveling with a big party, it adds a lot of extra work for a travel consultant to check in everyone. However, if your party is smaller, your agent will gladly get you checked in for that cruise vacation.

If your travel professional is simply unable to get that done, he/she will guide you on how to check in for your cruise.

Happy travels!

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