ADVICE FOR SMOOTH SAILING ON YOUR CRUISE
NUMBER ONE RULE – Utilize your travel agent to make sure you and your cruise ship are a good match. Yes, it’s unashamed self-promotion, but it’s also the best advice you will receive.
You will enjoy your cruise much more if your interests and personal style are reflected in the focus of the cruise line.
Your travel agents (that would be us) know the cruise lines, ships, itineraries, ports of calls and programs offered at sea. Planning with your interests, as well as your budget in mind, will get you started right – before you board the ship. Finding out on your first night at sea that you have taken your energetic toddler and five-year old on a cruise geared toward senior travel would not be a happy surprise.
Book your cruise preferences and shore excursions online, prior to your embarkation.
If you are currently booked on a cruise and have not done this yet, stop reading this and go take care of it.
Giving the cruise lines all the info they need ahead of time will speed up your check-in. More importantly, it will ensure that you get onto the popular shore excursions, which fill up quickly. Don’t worry, you won’t be charged for them before you board the ship and once onboard you can change or cancel your shore excursion reservations.
Buy the soda sticker or beverage deal when you board.
Many cruise lines offer the opportunity to purchase a sticker or card that entitles you to unlimited sodas while on your cruise. Since non-alcoholic beverages are charged to your account (at the standard bar rate,) these all-you-can-drink stickers are a good value and well worth the cost.
Consider arriving at your cruise port the day before your cruise.
Spend the night in your cruise port, wake up relaxed, maybe see some sights or hang around the hotel pool before you head to the cruise terminal for boarding.
This is a stress-free way to begin your vacation and it eliminates anxiety caused by possible flight delays. It allows you to go through the embarkation process in a leisurely manner. You are starting a vacation, after all.
Make sure all your documents are prepared and complete.
Go through the cruise line check list of required paperwork and double check that everything is there and filled out. Much of the time this can be done online, but whether you choose paper or internet, make sure it is completed prior to embarkation.
Check your passport when you book your cruise, NOT when you are packing. WHY?
Because most countries REQUIRE your passport to be valid for six months after you leave their country. Having it good through your travel dates is not enough. I repeat, having your passport good just through your travel dates is not enough.
If you have a trip or a cruise booked, and do not know when your passport expires, stop reading and go check. Go on. Just bookmark the page. I’ll be right here when you get back.
Give yourself time to renew your passport. The U.S. State Department gets backlogged.
Yikes, you’re leaving in three weeks??? Okay, if you are in a total jam, I can refer you to an independent service that will expedite the process – for a hefty fee of course – but your vacation will be saved and you will have a valid passport. Avoid the extra fees. Avoid the stress. Check your passport.