Now that you have booked your cruise, you may be wondering what to do next. Here is a quick guide that will help you through the process of preparing for your cruise.
1) Get or renew your passport. If you are using your passport as your proof of citizenship, make sure it is current. The requirement in most cases is that the expiration date is more than six months away from the date of sailing. Currently, if you are a United States Citizen and traveling on a cruise that departs and arrives back to a U.S. port, you are able to travel on an original or certified copy of your birth certificate and a valid government issued identification (drivers license for example). However, it is recommended that you get a passport. Of course traveling abroad requires a passport. Your travel agent will help you with what is required.
2) Flights and hotels. If you are flying to the city where the cruise departs from, it is recommended that you arrive a day early and stay in a hotel. Speak with your travel agent to discuss flight and hotel options to determine what best fits your schedule. Review flight information for flight times and the correct spelling of names as the airline may deny boarding if the names do not match. Many hotels will offer a shuttle to the cruise terminal; your travel agent will be able to assist you with selecting the best options.
3) Register online. Once your reservation is paid in full, you will need to complete your online registration with the cruise line. This is how you will get your boarding pass, as most cruise lines do not send out paper documents to your home any longer. You will need your cruise reservation number, your passport information and a few other items to complete this process. It should take about 10 – 15 minutes to complete.
4) Make show and dining reservations. Many of the large cruise ships are packed with entertainment and dining options. You are able to reserve show times and dining times online prior to sailing. It is best to do this ahead of time, as you will have more options as to the times that fit your schedule. You can wait until you board, but your selection will most likely be limited.
5) Spa and Salon appointments. As with shows and dining, you can also make your spa and salon appointments before you sail. By booking early, you have more options to choose from. Keep in mind that while the ship is at sea the spa is usually booked, so book sea days early. Also, most cruise lines will run a special for days the ship is in port. So do not rule out port days for your spa visit.
6) Pre-book shore excursions. If you want to do a shore excursion while in port, book it early. Shore excursions have a limited number of spaces and they do sell out. Chances are that if you see a shore excursion that you think is great, others think the same thing. Booking early offers the most choices. Also, if you do book early and need to change your excursion or cancel it, you are able to do so usually outside of 48 hours of the excursion date.
7) Packing. Check your cruise itinerary and cruise line’s attire guide, as this well help tremendously with your packing. Depending on your destination you will want to bring certain things. Be aware of any formal nights and the evening dress code for the dining room. You also want to make sure you bring any necessary items such as medications and toiletries. Keep in mind that when you arrive at the cruise terminal, your luggage will be checked. If there is anything that you want to keep with you, pack it in a carry bag (back packs work great).
8) Make arrangements for the care of your home. Before you leave, you may want to arrange with someone to check on your home a couple of times while you are gone. If you will be away for an extended period of time, have your mail and newspaper delivery held so the outside of your home does not look like it is vacant. Make necessary arrangements for your pets as well.
9) Speak with your travel agent. Travel agents are a great resource and can help with any of these items. They will also think of things that you may have missed.
10) Relax and have a fantastic time!
Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have or if you would like more details.