20 Things to Do 6+ Months Before a Cruise [Cruise Planning Timeline]

things to do 6 months before a cruise

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Cruising is one of the most fun and relaxing vacations you can take. However, there are some important things to do in the planning stages leading up to your cruise.

While the last 30 days before a cruise are crucial for final preparations, there are some essential tasks to tackle in the six months leading up to your voyage. In this cruise countdown guide, we’ll go over the pre-cruise planning steps to follow from the time you book your cruise.

Planning ahead is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable cruise experience. Here’s a list of things to do approximately 6 months before your cruise.

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Cruise Countdown Series:

Things to Do 6 Months Before Your Cruise

Must dos before your cruise 6 months

1. Research Cruise Options

Research cruise lines, itineraries, and ships to find the one that best suits your preferences and budget. The first step to planning your cruise is finding the best cruise for you.

In fact, this can be done as early as 18 months to a year before your cruise. If you’re planning a bucket list cruise or a unique itinerary, the earlier the better! However even for Caribbean and Alaska cruises, this is a good step to be done at least 6 months before a cruise.

2. Set a Budget

Determine your budget for the trip, considering all potential expenses such as airfare, transportation to the pier, pre or post cruise hotel stays, shore excursions, and other potential onboard expenses.

When establishing a budget for your cruise, it’s a good idea to factor in miscellaneous expenses including meals and activities in port, spa services, wifi and even spending money.

3. Consider Using a Travel Agent

Consider consulting with a travel agent who specializes in cruises. They can provide expert advice, help you navigate the various options, and often secure additional amenities or discounts.

4. Book Your Cruise and Apply the Deposit

Book your cruise, choose your preferred cabin and apply the required deposit as early as possible. Remember to keep note of your final payment, as well as any other important details of your cruise reservation.

Write down your booking number, cruise dates, embarkation and debarkation ports, and any other information to help with further travel planning.

Related: 14 Ways to Board Your Cruise Ship Faster on Embarkation Day

5. Research and Book Flights

Research and book your flights, considering options for booking independently or with a cruise line air package.

Some cruise lines offer flexible airfare options with competitive pricing. However, you do need to do your homework to see which option is best for you.

Consider arriving a day or two before the cruise to avoid potential issues due to flight delays.

Related: 37 Long Flight Essentials to Pack in Your Carry-on

6. Research and Buy Travel Insurance

Evaluate different travel insurance options, considering coverage from work, credit cards, cruise lines, and independent providers.

Remember that no one plans on needing to use travel insurance. However, if you or your travel companions experience an emergency or unforeseen circumstance you’ll have peace of mind.

7. Check Passport and Visa Requirements

Verify your passport expiry date, ensuring it has at least six months remaining. Check if you need visas, vaccinations, or other specific requirements for your cruise.

Avoid leaving passport renewals until the last minute. Processing times may be affected by factors such as the volume of applications, holidays, and unforeseen circumstances.

If you’re traveling during peak travel seasons, it’s advisable to renew your passport well in advance of any planned trips to avoid any potential delays.

8. Cruise Shopping List

Begin making a list of items you’ll need for the trip, and start purchasing travel essentials, such as luggage, travel-sized toiletries, and any special clothing or gear.

These cruise accessories and packing lists can help as you plan your cruise:

9. Consider New Luggage

luggage set
My Level 8 luggage (24″ checked & 20″ carry-on)

If you haven’t traveled in a while, you may want to invest in new luggage. In particular look for luggage that is lightweight and has 360 degree spinner wheels, so you can travel easily through airports and cruise terminals.

Recommended: Level 8 hardside luggage set 20 & 24″ (check Amazon for price & reviews)

10. Join a Roll Call

Join a roll call on platforms like Facebook or Cruise Critic to connect with fellow cruisers, share information, and potentially coordinate private excursions. Some cruise groups evevn coordinate fun events like cabin crawls, slot pulls and cruiser gift exchanges.

You can find cruise roll calls by doing a search for your specific date and cruise ship.

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11. Pre-Cruise Accommodations

If you’re traveling from a distance, consider booking a pre-cruise hotel stay for convenience. Research and book a recommended hotel in your budget closeby to the cruise port.

12. Check Cruise Line Policies

Familiarize yourself with the cruise line’s policies regarding tipping, dress codes, and any other important information. You’ll find this information on the cruise line website or through your travel agent.

Cruise articles, blogs and vlogs are a also good resource.

13. Communicate with Travel Companions

If you’re on a group cruise with friends or family, be sure to coordinate plans and ensure everyone in your travel party is on the same page regarding activities, excursions, and expectations.

You may even want to order fun cruise t-shirts for a great photo opportunity!


14. Check for Price Drops

If you’ve booked far in advance, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on prices and promotions. Although terms and conditions can vary, many cruise lines will honor the lower price if the fare has decreased on your selected cabin up until final payment.

You can do this by checking periodically on your own or with your travel agent. There are some apps and websites that you can use that claim to search for price drops. You can set up price alerts with the following tools.

  • Cruisewatch
  • Cruiseline Faretracker
  • Cruise Critic price alerts
  • Cruiseplum

15. Check for Cruiseline Discounts and Promotions

Keep an eye out for any promotions or discounts offered by the cruise line for excursions, onboard activities, or spa services. Check your emails and the cruise line website during holiday sales and other promotional periods.

16. Maintain an Ongoing To-Do List

Create a list of tasks with specific dates, such as final payment or online check-in deadlines. It’s a good idea to personalize your to-do list to your travel plans.

17. Arrange Transportation

While this likely can be done as you get a little closer to your sail date, it’s a good idea to do a little research. Plan how you will get to the departure port from your home, hotel or airport.

Look into parking options including off-site parking and park & cruise hotels, where you can save some money on your cruise.

18. Arrange for Childcare and Pet Sitting

If you’re planning an adults only cruise and leaving the kids at home, be sure to make babysitting arrangements in advance.

If you have a pet, you’ll want to add arranging petsitting to your list of things to do before your cruise.

19. Research Your Cruise Ports of Call

Visiting your cruise ports of call is going to be one of the best parts of your cruise vacation. Plan in advance by researching excursions and booking them as soon as they become available.

Reading cruise port reviews and watching cruise travel videos can help you to plan and keep the excitement up as you plan and get ready for your trip.

Related: 7 Things Not to Wear in Cruise Ports

20. Shop for Cruise Wear at End-of-Season Sales

Take advantage of end-of-season sales to purchase cruise wear at discounted prices, considering the climate of your cruise destination.

For example, if you’re going on a Bahamas cruise in the winter, you’ll find great deals on summer fashion in August.

If you’re going on an Alaskan cruise, look for hats, gloves and light puffer jackets as stores are liquidating their winter wear.

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Regular price: $27 Now just $17!

Final Thoughts

Planning for your cruise vacation will help you to have the best experience and ensure that nothing is forgotten.

Be sure to personalize your pre-cruise countdown list to your cruise and travel plans.

Read next:

Please let me know where you are in the cruise planning process and what else you’d add to this list, in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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