Cruise ships are truly surreal, they offer a chance to travel to different parts of the globe simultaneously, provide more room for luggage and gives you the time to connect with your travel partner whilst not only taking in beautiful sceneries but having an amazing lifetime adventure.
However, as dreamy as all that sounds, it’s just as important to plan and prepare accordingly, in this post, we will be discussing some of the things to take into account when looking forward to a cruise travel experience.
1- Researching your destination(s).
Doing some research into the port or ports that your chosen cruise line will be travelling to for your journey will help you learn any crucial information you may need to know about your cruise’s destinations.
Side note: Pay attention to legal details.
You definitely want to be attentive to things like the laws, guidelines and restrictions for the different country ports you’ll be stopping by, some of the things to find out include:
• Information about any required visas for the country you’ll be entering or any parts of the region you intend on exploring once you disembark the cruise.
• Information about any necessary permission to get ahead of time if you intend on bringing in any medical substances or products.
• Information about vaccinations you may be required to get before entering.
• Information about any age-group specific travel document required.
Pro tip: Opt for a travel agent/adviser.
You may want to consider employing the service of a professional travel agent when you’re planning a cruise, they can help you further plan out the trip, cut down costs and even get your travel insured if you’re confused about doing it yourself.
A travel agent can also help you point out any cruise policies you might find distasteful before you deposit or fully pay for a cruise package with any cruise line.
2- Gathering all required documents.
For instance, if you’re a parent taking along your child then you should be sure to collects things like their birth certificate and a notarized letter if needed.
Be sure to have all of the necessary documents in place and ready to go before your cruise embarkation day.
Passports should be ready and be active for more than six months before it expires, so you should process this ahead of time.
Some other important documents include your vaccinations records showing you’ve received any required vaccinations specified by your destination and your health certificate along with your medical records.
If you’ll be taking any medications along, be sure to discuss this with your doctor and have them prepare a written documentation of your medical condition.
Along with details about your prescribed medicine to minimize possibilities of your medications from being confiscated.
Side note: Passport cards are optional.
For US citizens, you can also opt for a passport card which is sufficient for identification while travelling by land or sea between places like the US and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean.
Please note that passport cards aren’t recognized by airlines, rather you’ll require a passport for that mode of travel.
Another splendid idea is to get a good travel insurance. This will be particularly helpful in the event that you receive any important medical expenses to cover or your trip got delayed, missed or cancelled and you’re concerned about getting the respective reimbursements for your prepaid expenses.
Its also advised to steer clear of travel insurances offered by cruise lines as they majorly cover very specific travel circumstances that can occur within your time with the cruise line, leaving you open for other uniquely demanding and dire travel situations.
Be sure to purchase your travel insurance prior to embarking on the cruise right before indulging in any expenditures.
Don’t forget to bring along a summary of your travel insurance coverage policy and methods for contacting the insurer.
Pro tip: Have some backup.
Try to make some coloured copies of your passport and other important documents.
You can carry your passport copy while you’re ashore as some cruise lines may not permit embarkation to the ship if your passport gets stolen or lost.
3- Accounting for cruise line intricacies.
Before settling for any cruise ship package, you’ll want to make sure you’ve gotten acquainted with a fair amount of the cruise line’s rules, guidelines and restrictions.
Some cruise ships may have a certain dress code you may want to note as you browse their website. They might also have policies regarding some items you aren’t permitted to bring on the trip.
You may also want to note that there are different cruise ships built for different experiences and book your cruise line accordingly, some of those include:
• Classic cruises.
• Expedition cruises.
• Sightseeing cruises.
• Theme cruises.
• Freighter cruises.
• Repositioning cruises.
• Club cruises.
Side note: Use your luggage tag.
Another thing would be the case of luggage tags. Some days before embarking the cruise ship, you might receive your luggage tag in advance, or you might even find it online via the cruise’s website.
You may also learn more about boarding passes and vouchers at this time.
Luggage tags helps the cruise ship personnel identify your luggage and determine where it should be placed upon the embarkation process.
Pro tip: Book according to your accommodation preferences.
When it comes to cruise ships, especially the more bigger ones, there can be lots of cabins in a lot of areas spread out across the ship, you may want to consider this when you make reservations with your cruise line.
Some cabins are closer to the lower decks for those who would prefer avoiding interruptions from the ship’s movements and some are well spaced away from the cruise’s nighttime carouser environments for those who enjoy a rather quiet environment.
Location and cabin types can really make or break a great cabin experience so be sure to keep those things in mind when you or your travel agent is making reservations.
Some cabin types include:
• Inside cabins.
• Ocean-view cabins.
• Veranda cabins.
• Mini-suite cabins.
4- Travel arrangement extras.
With cruise travel, it’s very common for cruisers to have off-cruise travel plans or even cruise extensions where the cruise line make bookings for a cruiser to be flying to another destination after disembarking the cruise ship.
Side note: Book early.
If you intend on getting yourself a cruise extension, its better to let the cruise line know ahead of time as purchasing an extension later will likely be much more costly, an optimal time would be when you’re about to purchase your desired cruise line travel package.
Once the cruise line finds you a flight schedule, they’ll send you the details for you to review and request for any further correction or clarification.
If you find it favourable then you’ll just have to accept it and let the cruise line continue with the preparations on their end.
You also want to make sure you’re clear on the things your cruise line will and will not assist you with both during disembarkation and ashore.
If you have any seating needs or transfer preferences, be sure to let the cruise line know prior to making any flight choices.
Also keep in mind that if the cruise embarkation port is some distance away from where you are, you should consider getting there a day early whether by air or road, depending on the distance to avoid any chances of missing the embarkation process.
If you purchase any items on the ship, keep the receipts incase you’re required to verify them.
Pro tip: Account for communication.
Phone usage charges on cruise ships are considerably high so you may want to contact your service provider in advance for them to provide you with a suitable cell phone plan.
5- Monetary planning.
Traveling by cruise ships can definitely rack up high expenditures pretty fast.
Which is why its quintessential to plan out your expenses to help you manage your finances better, excluding things like miscellaneous or unforeseen expenditures.
Side note: Get a credit card.
Its advisable to acquire and use a credit card when making initial payments like deposits and also final payments, the issuing bank will have some protections setup in place should anything go wrong, debit cards may not provide that kind of luxury.
Some cruise lines also have tipping systems or gratuities in place that may be automatically charged over the course of the cruise, since they put a lot of effort and time into providing you with a great experience, its just good business for the cruise personnel.
You can go through the cruise line’s website for any details on stopping such charges if you wish to be exempted for the system.
You may want to note that you’ll be charged considerably higher for your stay if you’re cruising alone without a partner, this is because some cruise line’s cost structure has been designed for more people maximising their ship’s space.
If you’d really prefer cruising solo then you may want to opt for the service of an experienced travel agent as they can help rid of any unnecessary quotes within your cruise package.
Another thing to do a little research on is what time of the year is better for you to travel, if its not something you really need to do within a specific timeframe, consider cruising later.
Typically, for cruise lines, there’s always a high and low season for each destination and booking your cruise at the lower season will help cut down costs you might otherwise have to pay in high seasons due to extreme weather conditions.
Pro tip: Have things clearly defined.
Try to get an invoice for your desired cruise package before buying it to review all of the important details like all accounted costs, information on the cruise contract and other details regarding cruise disaffiliation travel arrangements.
In the event that you’re purchasing the cruise package online, you can print out the invoice along with your cruise line’s contract and review it promptly before making your final decision, don’t forget to complete any further registration processes after buying your package.
6- Being health conscious.
As much as the cruise ship personnel will do everything they can to ensure your wellbeing, you still have the duty of taking good care of yourself.
Because of the huge multitude of people who will also be aboard the ship, it’s not uncommon for a few cruisers to get sick en route, but taking preventive measures will substantially minimize that possibility.
Side note: Wash your hands.
You wanna make sure you’ve gotten your hands washed especially after shaking someone or touching something unsanitized.
Don’t forget to also pack sanitized wipes for wiping down any platforms you’ll be settling in or placing your items. This is not to say that cruise ship personnel are in any way sloppy at their jobs, but as with all things travel, a little extra precaution won’t hurt anyone.
Pro tip: Get medical insurance.
You should consider getting an extra health insurance for any potential, unforeseen medical situations like a medical evacuation procedure which would cost a huge amount and probably isn’t exactly accounted for in the cruise contract.
7- Taking safety measures.
Although cruise travel is one of the safest modes of modern day travel, being prepared and taking adequate safety precautions is not an exception to it.
With that said, some things to note about cruise ship safety include:
• Avoiding going back to your cabin with a stranger.
• Limiting your level of alcohol consumption.
• Avoiding taking drinks from strangers.
• Not making it obvious that you’re alone if you’re a solo cruiser, making friends with someone trustworthy earlier on the trip can help you feel more relaxed and you guys can set up a buddy system.
• Avoiding going to the cruise’s crews quarters.
• Refraining from carrying large amounts of cash on you, besides you’ll be making use of your cruise card for purchases for the most part.
• Reporting any detected suspicious activity to your steward.
• Being discreet about your cabin number.
• Securely storing your valuables.
• Properly locking your cabin doors and windows when appropriate.
Side note: Keep your valuables well.
Be sure to keep and lock away any valuable items you may have brought or bought in your cabin’s vault as you cruise.
If you won’t really have any use for any valuable you bring along, don’t bother bringing it in the first place.
Pro tip: Focus during muster drills.
Muster drills are designed to teach you how to respond in times of terrible cruise travel situations and the laid out procedures for getting through them in regards to your role as a cruiser.
Think about it, as much as these people strive to provide you with a wonderful travel experience, they’re also responsible for hundreds, in some cases thousands of people’s lives.
It would greatly appreciated by your cruise line’s authority to help them worry about one less person by paying attention to the ship’s carefully designed muster drills.
Cruising is a truly wonderful way to see the world and enjoy new experiences. Have fun moderately, take necessary precautions, leave enough time to plan things out and you’ll be good to go. Keep calm and enjoy your travels.