Pre-Cruise Check List – Important Things to Do Before You Cruise

So you have booked your cruise and are looking forward to a well deserved vacation. You have started to think about what to pack. In addition to packing there are a number of things that you should think about before you leave. Here are a few items that you make sure are on your checklist to make your trip stress-free.


Cruise ChecklistMake Your Final Payment

Mark your final payment date on your calendar and make sure you give yourself a little buffer. Unexpected things can happen so don’t wait until the last day to call in you payment. If a ship is fully booked and you miss your final payment date the cruise line has the right to cancel your booking and make your deposit non-refundable.

Purchase Insurance

Make sure that you purchase you insurance in advance. Insurance is important especially if you have elderly family members or young children. Usually if you purchase insurance within a week of your deposit you will be covered for pre-existing conditions.

Book Shore ExcursionsBook Shore Excursions

Book your shore excursions in advance. Many excursions, especially those with limited capacity, sell out early. You can book excursions either with the cruise line or with your travel agent. Your travel agent can often offer private excursions or excursions with smaller groups often at a lower rate.

Confirm Valid Passport and Travel Documents

Check to make sure that all of your travel documents (passport, visa, etc) are in order long before you depart. Check to make sure that your passport is valid and that all of the names accurately match the names on your reservations. Getting a passport renewed can take up to 90 days or more. Arriving at the pier without a valid passport or with a passport that does not match the name on your cruise documents can result in denied boarding without a refund.

Reconfirm Travel Arrangements

Make sure that you receive a confirmation for your cruise and carefully read the dates, ship and sail date, category and cabin and the names on the confirmation. If there is a discrepancy, contact your travel agent as soon as possible. Making changes can be costly especially as you get closer to your departure date.

Get Cell Phone International Calling/Data Plan

If you plan on using your cell phone while you are away you can save money by contacting your cell phone carrier to see what types of calling and data plans are available.

Arrange for Transportation to the Airport or Pier

Make sure that you confirm arrangements to get to/from the pier or airport in advance.

Arrange for Child Care

If you are leaving the kids at home make sure that you arrange for child care in advance.

Confirm Pet/House Sitter

Don’t forget your furry friends. As you get closer to your departure date make sure to arrange to have someone take care of your pets and your house if necessary.

Complete Your Pre-Cruise Registration

All cruise lines now require guests to check-in on line in advance. You can normally complete the online check-in once your deposit is paid.

Cruise DiningPre-book Specialty Dining and Spa Appointments

Fine dining and relaxing spa days are one of the highlights of a cruise. Dinner reservations and spa treatments can be booked in advance after completing your pre-cruise registration. Dinner reservations and spa appointments can get booked up before the cruise even departs.

Get Your Prescriptions Refilled

Make sure that you contact your doctor or pharmacist to fill any prescriptions that you might need. It is also important to travel with a copy of your prescription with you when you travel and to keep your prescriptions in your carry on bag.

Provide Contact Information to Family/Friends

It is important that you let people know how to get in touch with you in an emergency. When you receive your cruise documents they will include an emergency contact phone number where they can reach you on the ship.

Purchase Fresh Batteries for Your Camera

Purchasing batteries on the ship or in port is more expensive than purchasing them at your local pharmacy or grocery store. So, make a list and stock up before you leave.

Purchase Spare Memory Disk for Your Camera

Nothing is worse than going for that incredible photo to find that you are out of disk space. Memory cards are pretty inexpensive now so make sure you have a back up that you can quickly swap out.

Check with Your Bank that Your Debit/Credit Cards Can be Used Abroad

If you are planning to use a credit or debit card call your bank before you leave and let them know what countries you will be visiting. Many credit card companies will decline your transaction if you are making purchasing outside of your normal purchasing pattern. A simple phone call before you leave can avoid that inconvenience.

Get Cash

Get cash ahead of time. While you won’t need cash on board the ship you may need some cash in ports for purchases, taxis and incidentals. Remember you can use your debit card when traveling so you won’t need take huge amounts of cash with you.

Get ready for your cruise and pack your bags! A little bit of preparation and planning before you leave can make your cruise experience relaxed and enjoyable without any surprises. Bon voyage!

2 thoughts on “Pre-Cruise Check List – Important Things to Do Before You Cruise

  1. I see we are charged per person per day gratuities, then I see posts about tipping cabin steward…… exactly how does this all really work? Who receives the mandatory charged gratuities? Are there others we should tip? If so & when?

    • Hi Allison,

      Most cruise lines have now moved to charging a flat amount for gratuities to each guest’s shipboard account (about $12-$13pp per day). The gratuity charge is distributed to the room steward, housekeeping and the wait staff in the dining room therefore it is not necessary to tip each staff member separately. When you purchase drinks onboard the bill that you sign for generally includes a service charge as a separate line item on the bill. If you have someone who has offered truly exceptional service you can certainly tip them above the service charge that has been automatically added to you shipboard account.

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