20 Things to Do Before a Cruise to Make It a Success

things to do before a cruise to make it a success

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Going on a cruise is a fun and relaxing vacation, offering a perfect escape from everyday life. To make sure you have the best time possible, a little preparation goes a long way.

Here are twenty things you should do before setting sail to make your cruise a success, including some unique tips you might not have considered.

How to Make Your Cruise a Success

cruise ships carnival, norwegian

1. Choose the Right Cruise for You

Before booking, research different cruise lines and itineraries to find one that matches your interests and budget. Consider the destinations, length of the cruise, type of cabin, and onboard activities. Reviews and recommendations from friends or travel forums can be invaluable in making your choice.

2. Book Early and Plan Your Budget

Booking your cruise well in advance can save you money and secure the best cabins. Additionally, create a budget that includes not just the cruise fare, but also excursions, onboard expenses, gratuities, and travel insurance.

This will help you avoid unexpected costs and enjoy your trip without financial stress.

3. Check Passport and Visa Requirements

Verify the documentation requirements for your cruise. If using a passport as ID (which may be required) Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your return date.

Research visa requirements for the countries you’ll visit and obtain any necessary visas well in advance. Some destinations may have specific entry requirements, so it’s crucial to be well-informed.

4. Arrange Transportation and Accommodations

Plan your transportation to and from the port, whether it’s by car, train, or flight. If you’re flying, plan on arriving a day early to avoid any travel delays that could cause you to miss the ship.

Book a hotel near the port if needed and look for deals on parking if you’re driving.

5. Purchase Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a must for cruise vacations. It can cover unexpected events like trip cancellations, medical emergencies, lost luggage, and more.

Ensure your policy covers the specific needs of your trip, including air evacuation. Although unlikely to be needed, this is an important factor to consider.

6. Complete Online Check-In and Print Documents

Most cruise lines offer online check-in, which saves time at the cruise terminal on embarkation day. Complete this process and print all necessary documents, including boarding passes, luggage tags, and any special requests or excursions you’ve booked.

Having everything organized will streamline your embarkation process and make it smooth sailing ahead!

7. Pack Smart – According to Your Destination

Pack according to the destinations and the activities and excursions you have planned. Consider the dress code for formal nights and pack essentials like swimsuits, comfortable walking shoes, and any medications you need.

Don’t forget travel-sized toiletries, sunscreen, and a small first aid kit. Check the weather forecast for your destinations to ensure you’re prepared.

Related: What to Pack for Your First Cruise (Packing List & Tips)

8. Plan Your Excursions

Research and book shore excursions in advance. Popular excursions can sell out quickly, so securing your spot early ensures you don’t miss out on activities you’re excited about.

Whether it’s a guided tour, snorkeling adventure, or cultural experience, planning ahead enhances your overall trip experience.

9. Inform Your Bank and Arrange Finances

Notify your bank of your travel dates to avoid any issues with your cards while abroad. This is especially important if you don’t travel often, as it can trigger fraud alerts.

Consider carrying some local currency for each port of call, as well as a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Many cruise lines also offer a cashless system onboard, linked to your cruise key card, so be prepared for that as well.

Related: How to Carry Your Cruise Card (cruise lanyards & alternatives)

10. Download Cruise Line’s App and Join Social Media Groups

Many cruise lines have apps that provide valuable information about your trip, including daily schedules, dining options, and ship maps. Download the app and familiarize yourself with its features.

Joining Facebook groups or forums related to your cruise can also provide tips and allow you to connect with fellow travelers on your specific sailing.

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Should Join a Cruise Roll Call

11. Check Health and Vaccination Requirements

Some destinations may require specific vaccinations or health checks. If required, visit your doctor to ensure you are up-to-date on necessary vaccinations and to get any prescriptions you might need.

Consider bringing a copy of your medical records in case of emergencies.

12. Make Special Requests in Advance

If you have dietary restrictions, mobility issues, or any other special needs, inform the cruise line ahead of time. Most cruise lines are accommodating but need advance notice to make necessary arrangements.

13. Set Up International Phone Plans & Purchase Onboard Internet

Contact your mobile carrier to set up an international plan or consider purchasing a local SIM card for the countries you’ll visit. This ensures you stay connected without incurring hefty roaming charges in cruise ports of call.

Be aware that of cruise ship internet and wifi plans, and choose a plan that works best for you.

14. Create a Home Checklist

Prepare your home for your absence by arranging for someone to collect your mail, water your plants, and check on your house.

Set your thermostat, unplug appliances, and ensure all windows and doors are securely locked.

Related: 20 Things to Do the Last Week Before a Cruise [Pre-Cruise Checklist]

15. Research Onboard Activities

Familiarize yourself with the ship’s daily activities and entertainment options. Some activities, like specialty dining or spa treatments, may require reservations. Planning ahead ensures you don’t miss out on these experiences.

20 things to do before a cruise to make it a success
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16. Prepare for Seasickness

If you’re prone to seasickness, pack remedies such as motion sickness bands, ginger candies, or medication like Dramamine.

Being prepared can make a significant difference in your comfort level during the cruise.

Related: How to Prevent Seasickness on a Cruise: 10 Effective Remedies

17. Plan Your Wardrobe Strategically

Consider the cruise line’s dress codes and pack versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched.

Packing cubes can help organize your luggage and save space. Don’t forget accessories like hats, sunglasses, and a light jacket for cooler evenings.

18. Bring Your Own Reusable Items

These days, many cruisers bring reusable water bottles to refill during the cruise. It’s also a good idea to bring a foldable backpack or tote bag to use on port days or around the cruise ship.

19. Learn Basic Phrases of Local Languages

If you’re visiting non-English-speaking countries, learning a few basic phrases can enhance your experience in cruise ports of call.

Phrases like “hello,” “thank you,” and “where is the bathroom?” can be incredibly useful and appreciated by locals.

20. Set Realistic Expectations

While cruises are meant to be relaxing and enjoyable, things might not always go as planned. Weather changes, itinerary adjustments, and minor inconveniences can happen on any trip.

Keeping a flexible and positive attitude will help you make the most of your cruise vacation, and avoid potential disappointment.

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Final Thoughts

Preparation is key to a successful cruise vacation. By taking these steps before your departure, you can ensure a smoother, more enjoyable experience from start to finish.

What steps do you take to ensure a successful cruise? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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