Embarking on a cruise can be a wonderful and thrilling experience. However, it takes plenty of preparation to make sure your journey goes smoothly. Use this step-by-step guide to help you be fully prepared when you step onto your cruise ship for the experience of a lifetime.
The first thing you’ll want to attend to after booking your cruise is gathering all of the travel documents you’ll need for the trip. These documents can vary widely based on what type of cruise you are taking and where you’ll be traveling, so it’s important to check with your individual cruise line for specifics. The following are some of the key documents that you may need:
- Photo ID: All passengers ages 16 and older are typically required to bring a photo ID on board.
- Passport: The cruise line may want a copy of this passport for their records. Make sure to check your passport expiration date to ensure that it extends past the end of your cruise. In some cases, a birth certificate will suffice.
- Travel visa: Certain visas are required by some countries. Check with the United States Department of State for more information about whether you need a visa and, if so, what kind you’ll need.
- Proof of vaccination: You may need to get certain vaccinations (if you don’t already have them) and get proof from your doctor that you’ve been vaccinated.
- Insurance: Bring appropriate paperwork regarding your health insurance and travel insurance on the cruise.
As with any vacation, you’ll want to pack a variety of clothing and accessories for your trip. Check weather reports to make sure you have appropriate clothing for the expected temperatures. In addition to your basic vacation wear, here are a few specific things to consider when packing for a cruise:
- Bring comfortable shoes for walking around during on-land excursions.
- Bring layers for cool nights at sea.
- Pack gym clothes if you plan to work out on the ship’s gym.
- Check to find out the dress code for certain dinners or shows held on the ship. You may need formal wear for certain occasions depending on your ship’s dress code. (Some cruise lines let you order these items in advance so you don’t have to pack with for your trip).
- Bring sunscreen and sunglasses – the sun can be especially harsh at sea.
- Find out if you have laundry facilities on your ship. Bring detergent if you want to avoid cleaning fees.
- Pack a water bottle which you can fill on the ship if you’ll be participating in excursions in areas with unsafe drinking water.
Once you’ve settled on the cruise you want, you’ll need to organize your travel plans accordingly. Most people have to travel to reach the origin port for the cruise. It’s important to find out if and when the cruise line offers a shuttle from certain airports to the port. This can save you an expensive taxi cab fee if you have to get from the airport to the port on your own. The same rule applies for when you reach your destination. Some cruise lines offer a shuttle from the destination port to the nearest airport as well, so find out if one is offered and consider taking advantage of it. You may need to sign up for these services in advance in order to get a seat on the shuttle, and an extra fee may or may not be applied.
In addition to coordinating flights and ground transportation, you can also consider extending your trip by traveling before or after the cruise. Many passengers take advantage of their destination port after the cruise ends by staying in the area for an extra day or two. This is a great way to take advantage of your travel time without spending a lot of extra money.
Cruises are one of the more cost-effective and fun ways to travel these days. With so many options, almost anyone can find a cruise that meets their travel style and desires. Use these tips to help your cruise go smoothly and avoid any stress associated with preparing for the journey.