• Carolyn

Cruise Alternative Itinerary: Day 1 - AKA Embarkation Day

Updated: Jan 24



Note: Well friends, less than 3 hours after I posted yesterday's blog, our May cruise was cancelled. So, it looks like we'll be taking our own advice! Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the first day of vacation - AKA Embarkation Day....


Embarkation day is thrilling because it marks the start of an adventure. Whether it's exploring the ship, settling in to your cabin, or watching land drift off into the distance, it all signals that something exciting awaits. You can have those same feelings on the first day of your vacation in Panama City Beach, FL!


Here Are My Tips for Embarkation Day


The order YOU want to choose here probably depends on your personality. I've laid them out in the order I'd choose, but you do you. You're on vacation after all!


1. Get Settled In


Let's be real, embarkation day is exciting but it can also be exhausting, because it involves schlepping luggage, waiting in long lines and crowds. If you've ever done the clumsy "negotiating narrow walking paths with carry on bags so you can stake out a table at the lunch buffet trek", you know what I'm talking about. With a land-based vacation, you can go straight to your beach home for the week. If you stay at the Joy Coastal condo, you'll have contactless check-in and you can get settled in without the lines.

I think one of the great things about cruising is that you just unpack once for the whole trip. Staying on land affords the same convenience - with more space for everyone in your party. I like to take some time on that first day to unpack, get the luggage out of the way, and get ready for the week ahead.


Speaking of getting settled in, one of my favorite hacks is to use Shipt to have groceries delivered shortly after we check in. You're on vacation and no one wants to start vacation by grocery shopping. Can I get an amen? ;)

Three Tips on Using Grocery Delivery on Vacation:

  1. Think about the timing for your delivery so you're not missing out on the first trip to the pool because you're waiting on groceries!

  2. Make sure that you have changed your delivery address to your condo - it would be unfortunate to send groceries to your front porch at home while you're on vacation.

  3. Florida law currently allows Shipt shoppers to deliver from liquor stores, so keep that in mind when you're placing your order if that's of interest to you.


2. Explore Your Home for the Week


After getting settled in at our "home away from home", we love to explore the ship on a cruise. If you're staying at the Joy Coastal condo at the Dunes of Panama, you'll have plenty to explore as well.

The Dunes of Panama is spread out over 1500 feet of beach on the Gulf of Mexico. There are 5 condo buildings, 3 swimming pools, tennis courts, shuffle board, a snack shack, tiki bar, swings, and beach volleyball. I would suggest getting your bearings right away so you don't miss out on any amenities because you didn't know they were there!


3. Find Some Fun that Says "You're Now On Vacation!!!"

Everyone is different, but at some point (preferably early on) you've got to do something that signifies to your family that you are now *OFFICIALLY* on vacation!


Plant your feet in that white sand. Jump in the waves. Cannonball into the pool. Eat ice cream for lunch. Crack open a cold one. Whatever it is for you, do something that symbolizes your vacation has begun!


4. Have Your Own Sail-Away Party


Hearing the horn blast as the ship leaves the port that first night is a feeling like no other. You're setting sail and embarking on an adventure. There's nothing to say you can't have that same experience on land! There are so many great options for celebrating the beginning of your vacation in Panama City Beach.


Set up camp on the pool deck and order pizza! Pizza at the pool somehow tastes better, doesn't it? Maybe because it's seasoned with lazy summertime fun!

Go out to dinner at an open air, beach-front restaurant. The slower pace and connection with the beach is a constant reminder that you're not in Kansas anymore. Three of our favorites in Panama City Beach are Schooners, Runaway Island, and Sharky's.

Or celebrate and watch the sunset from your own balcony!

With seating for 6 and plenty of room, this is an ideal place to mark the beginning of your vacation. Make yourself a drink (or grab one from Suds Weezers downstairs), put on some music, and supervise the waves as the sun sets. You've got a week of relaxation ahead you and it's worth taking some time to slow your pace and settle in to vacation mode!


How about you? What are your favorite "embarkation day" traditions? Comment below! And join us tomorrow for our recommendations for your first "sea day".