If you’re going on a cruise, you might be wondering what are are things that you must do before you board. Like it or not, things are more complicated with any type of travel, and cruising is no exception.
As I’ve been getting ready for my own cruise, I put together a list of 15 things to do before your cruise, especially in the last 30 days. This list will help you to be prepared for your cruise, and have a fun and relaxing vacation!
15 Things to Do Before Every Cruise
1. Online Check-in
Do your online check in by 30 days before your cruise, if you haven’t done it already. When doing your online check-in, make sure to have your passport or government ID on hand, as well as your proof a vaccine.
You also have a health questionnaire to complete, however many cruise lines will ask you to return to the health questionnaire in the last 24 hours before your cruise. Take note of the instructions, as may differ from one cruise line to another. Health and travel protocols are subject to change, so keep up to date by checking back on the cruise line website and checking your emails.
Check your passport expiry date as early as possible in case you need to have it renewed.
2. Download the Cruise line App
Most cruise lines have a cruise line app and recommend you download it.
In some cases there may be information that you need to complete on the cruise line app. For example, if you’re booked on a Princess Cruise, you will need to do your online check in on the MedallionClass™ app.
However, the cruise line app is handy to have for all cruise lines and is best downloaded before you board. You may be able to do your safety briefing or emuster drill on your phone, view the daily planner and menus, and message other guests on board.
3. Make Hotel Reservations & Travel Arrangements
If you haven’t already made your hotel reservations for a night before your cruise, then make sure to do this now. If you’ve already made your hotel reservations, this is a good time to check back to see if there have been any reductions in the hotel price.
Make sure to check if your hotel offers a shuttle to the cruise port, and otherwise consider your transportation to the ship on embarkation day.
4. Arrange Covid Tests for Travel
Most cruise lines require you to provide a negative Covid test result before boarding your cruise. About a month before your cruise, check on the latest protocols and make your covid test appointments. If you’re ordering an approved self-test, order these at least 2-4 weeks before you need them.
For self tests, please verify your cruise line web site to confirm which tests are approved. Many cruise lines have links to approved self-tests directly on their website within their health protocols FAQ section.
5. Start a Packing Checklist
Even if you’re not ready to pack yet, you’ll want to start a cruise packing list about a month before your cruise. You may also want to have a place in your home to place items you want to bring on your cruise vacation.
Make sure to try on any cruise outfits that you haven’t worn in a while, to make sure they fit and that you feel your best.
Related: What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise
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6. Book Excursions & Make Onboard Reservations
If you’re planning on doing cruise line excursions, you should definitely book them within the last month before your cruise. Even if you book your shore excursions privately or plan to explore on your own, make sure to research before you go.
This is also the time to book your drink packages and dining packages. If you’re lucky, you may even get a discount by booking online before your cruise. Other onboard reservations should be made in the last 30 days before your cruise as well since availability may be limited.
7. Make Self-care Appointments
Consider the appointments that you need to make before your cruise. This may include making an appointment at your hairdresser for a cut or color, booking a manicure and pedicure, having your eyebrows done, bikini wax and any other types of self-care.
8. Join a Cruise Roll Call
Joining a cruise roll call or facebook group for your specific cruise can be really helpful. In these groups, people will share information about the cruise and chat about the excursions and ports. You’ll also be able to “virtually” meet people before you go on your sailing. If you have questions about your cruise this is also a really good place to ask them.
You could find cruise line roll calls on the Cruise Critic message boards and on other online forums, as well as on Facebook.
9. Print Luggage Tags and Cruise Documents
Remember to print out your cruise luggage tags as well as your cruise documents, shore excursion confirmations and hotel reservations.
Even if you have them on your phone, if you don’t have Wi-Fi at some point it can get complicated. Having your hotel reservation printed it out, as well as any other reservations will give you peace of mind.
10. Alert Your Credit Card Company
And if you don’t travel often, it’s a good idea to alert your credit card company and let them know that you will be on a cruise and in certain cruise ports of call.
While some credit card companies don’t require you to do this, many people do report that they’ve had their credit card blocked or declined when travelling, especially if they made a large purchase.
Since you don’t want to have a problem, you may want to call your credit card and let them know, or see if you can update this on their website.
11. Withdraw Cash
If you’re taking cash on your cruise as spending money, make sure to go to the ATM or your bank to withdraw money in advance of your cruise. If you need foreign currency you may need to allow some time and order this from your bank.
12. Bring Extra Prescription Medication
Cruise lines recommend that you bring 2 to 3 weeks of extra medication with you on your cruise. This is a good idea for whenever you travel. Make sure to plan for and pick up extra prescription medication as you pack and get ready for your travels.
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13. Last Minute Home Organization
Make sure to keep a list of the last minute home things that you need to do before you go on your cruise holiday.
Some things you’ll want to do include: notifying the alarm company that you’ll be traveling, putting a hold on the mail, setting up an away message on your work email, cleaning out your fridge, emptying your garbage bin in your kitchen, making your bed with clean sheets for when you arrive back home.
14. Complete Health Questionnaire
In the last 24 hours before your cruise, you may need to fill in a health questionnaire on the cruise line website or app. As well, you may have other online check in that needs to be done the day before you travel. Keep this in a to do list so you don’t forget anything before you go on vacation.
15. Check the Weather Forecast
About a week before your cruise, make sure to do a last minute weather check. It’s a good idea to know if the weather may unseasonably cold, hot or rainy and adjust the clothing you packed if need be.
Always remember to pack a sweater or warmer outfit just in case, even on Caribbean cruises. Having an umbrella or poncho is a good idea as well.
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Video: Things You Must to Do Before Your Cruise
In this video we go through the most important things to do before your cruise, so that you stay organized and are well prepared.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do Before a Cruise
There are a lot of important things that need to be done in the last month and few weeks before a cruise. In this post we went over 15 things to do before every cruise. Some are so important, that if not done can result in being denied boarding. Others however, are less obvious, but still should be done before your cruise.
What are your must-do’s before a cruise? Please let me know if there’s something else we should add to this list.
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