You have finally don’t it, you have booked your first cruise!

What do you do now?

Hopefully you have a travel agent to help guide you, but if you don’t, here are 10 things you should ( or MUST) do before you cruise.

  • Travel Protection –  Travel protection, or travel insurance is one of those things you REALLY need to purchase. Vacations are typically expensive , and the should be travel protection protects that investment in the event something happens and after the final payment is made, you can’t make it.  It can also help you if you miss a flight, get sick and need to see a doctor, lose your luggage.  Having a grasp of what good travel protection can/ can’t help you with is probably the most important piece of travel knowledge you can have.
  • Check your Passport – Many countries require you to have at least 6 month left on your passport before they let you into the country. If it has less than a year left on the day travel,  renew it!   It’s too small of a cost to warrant not being able to board the cruise ship because XYZ port won’t allow you entry due to a nearly expired passport. And NO you can not just stay on the ship at that port.  If a country won’t allow you access, you can’t board the ship.
  • Visit the state department website for travel advisories regarding each destination you are visiting! – Do this, do this, do this, do this, and in case you missed the message, DO THIS. Visit the site and view any travel advisories for your port visits.  You should do it when you book, and then again just before you travel.  Just being aware of the advisories can help you make decisions about excursions, dining & drinking that can save a dream vacation from becoming a nightmare.

  • Visa’s and Vaccines – While your on the State Department’s website, make sure you understand any Visa requirements and if any Vaccines are required or recommended.  Many time the cruise line website can help point you in  the right direction as well. or When in doubt, ask your travel agent and have him / her help sort through information!
  • Invite a friend – What better than being on a cruise ship, watching the sun set over the ocean after a day playing at the most recent port?  Sharing the experience with a friend, or better yet, several friends!   There are a lot of benefits for booking travel groups, everything from better pricing to additional amenities can be added as perks for having several people ‘travel’ together.  To ensure you get the absolute best value for having a group booking, work with your travel agent!
  • Check in Online – Most cruise line require you to check in online and doing so provides several benefits! Booking online gets all you travel docs to the cruise line early ( making for a quicker boarding process) and opens up all the pre-booking options for excursions through the cruise line. Depending on the cruise line, checking in online can also help verify or set dining options, stateroom options and your personal travel itinerary, so when you board, everything is exactly how you want it. 
  • Create a Packing list – Each destination will have different packing requirements. By making a list early you can build or modify that list to ensure you have everything you need on board in port. By making the list early, you also have the opportunity to
  • Keep an Eye on your destinations weather –  By knowing the weather  that is likely in you destination, you can modify your packing list accordingly. In addition, should the weather get sever, you wont be surprised if the cruise line modifies the itinerary and you can manage that change, or at least be prepared to manage the change should it happen. DON’T ever cancel your trip plans because you think the weather will be too rough, unless you have travel protection that allows YOU to make that choice. Typically if the cruise line changes it itinerary, you would be much more likely to be compensated for any hardship than if you cancel the trip outright. However most cruise line will chance ports before  they cancel a trip. Most quality excursions options will work with you to ensure a booking in one port can be transferred to another or refunded if the ship changes port.  One advantage of having a Travel Agent,  the agent can do all of that leg work for you, so your not trying to modify that scuba trip excursion, and still make your dinner reservation.  
  • Pre-Book Excursions – Once you check in online you should be presented with the opportunity to pre-book, and pre-pay for excursions! This can really help for travelers on a budget, as you can purchase little pieces of the trip leading up to the cruise, and then spend little or nothing on the vacation itself! Note that the cruise line is not the only place to purchase excursions, check withy our travel agent if you would like a little more variety, or a little better pricing. If this is your FIRST cruise, I would recommend sticking with the cruise line options until you get a feel for port days. Missing the ship ( and someone does at nearly every port) can be quite the experience and by booking through the cruise line, there is no questions about how you are getting back aboard should the excursions have a mishap.   
  • Make your final Cruise Payment –  in fact make it early!  Booking a cruise with little down and then making small payments is a HUGE plus when planning a vacation. BUT when you book a cruise with a deposit, make sure you know the final payment date! Should you miss it, your deposit could be forfeit as well as a percentage of any payments already made. Plus to rebook the cruise you will have to look at stateroom availability and pricing all over again, and it may not be cheaper to rebook it, especially if you have to upgrade the room in order to get aboard. 

So that’s my 10 things you MUST do list.  While I could add a lot more,  these are some of the issues I see when booking for my clients.  

If you haven’t booked your cruise yet, and want some help, please give me a call. My services won’t cost you extra for any cruise bookings and I can help ensure you get the best value for every dollar spent! 

If your interested in having a Travel Agent help you with your cruise, even if you have booked it, give me a call.  We might be able to take over the booking and help you! There are some time sensitive issues though so the sooner you call the better!