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Must Do’s Before You Cruise

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Whether a first time cruiser, or a cruise veteran, excitement always build within you as your sailing date approaches.

That somewhat holds true on other types of trips and vacations, but, at least for me (and I suspect others) for some reason it’s more intense when I’m waiting to cruise.

I find that one of the unique things about cruising; always getting almost overly excited about the upcoming trip. So, with that excitement it’s easy to forget some of the really simple things you should do to make certain you’re prepared.

Here’s my checklist of important details of preparation:

1. Passports – If your cruise is anything other than a closed loop cruise (departing and returning to the same U.S. port) a passport will be required, so make sure you, and everyone traveling with you have your passports.

Aside from simply ensuring you have your passports, make certain to check the expiry dates of those passports. To be valid for your cruise the expiry date MUST be no less than six months past your scheduled date or return.

2. Cruise Tickets and Documents – The vast majority of cruise lines now issuing tickets online, and passengers are expected to print their own tickets and luggage tags at home. You are required to complete the entire registration process online, supplying all pertinent information, and once done, you’ll be expected to print the materials, and bring those with you, allowing you to board the ship.

3. Required Medication – Whatever the length of your planned cruise, make certain to take more of any required prescription medicines than you’ll need.

While incidents are very rare, there are times a ship may  be unable to return to port as scheduled. Or, it’s even possible, that you may get stuck in a foreign country for a particular reason. In those cases it is imperative you have enough quantity of your required medications with you to make the situation manageable.

ALL medication should be carried on your person, in your carry-on baggage. NOT placed in your  checked baggage, that could go missing.

4. Credit Cards – Ensure you have enough credit space available on any credit card you plan to use during your trip; for both on board and on land expenses, as well as any emergency spending that may be required.

When boarding a ship you will be required to offer a credit card, debit card, or cash to cover all of your on board spending on the ship, including any excursions you may choose, gratuities, etc.

It’s important to note that when using Debt Cards to cover on board purchases, the cruise lines do put a hold on the funds to cover amounts sufficient to cover their estimate of your on board expenses. They later charge the actual amount at the end of the cruise. This can cause a temporary hold on the funds twice, before the actual accounting is resolved.

Therefore you need to aware some of your funds may be unavailable to you for a short time, and therefore I recommend against using debt cards to secure your on board expenses.

5. Insurance – BUY IT BEFORE YOU GO!   Many people forego purchasing travel insurance for their cruises; either because they decide that is an area they can save money, or because they mistakenly believe the insurance they have at home will cover them while abroad.

In the vast majority of cases, even with the best very best medical insurance coverage you have at home, that insurance will not cover your insurance needs outside of the country. And travel insurance is the LAST area one should be looking to, to save money.

Emergency situations can arrive for both young and old, and whether you are perfectly healthy, or not.

These emergency situations can be incredibly difficult and stressful enough, without having to face the possibility of financial disaster as well, because you do not have appropriate insurance to cover the situation.

For anyone with any type of existing pre-condition, it is imperative to purchase your insurance within a time frame after purchasing your cruise ticket, that makes certain the pre-existing condition is covered by the policy.

If you do not purchase travel insurance you are self insuring. You are accepting responsibility for any financial losses if an emergency arises. Are you really wealthy enough to cover all the possible expenses of an emergency incident?

6. Flying? – When you book your flight to/from your embarkation port cities be sure to sign up for advance notification of flight changes.  These days it is very common for airlines to change their scheduled flight times. Of course, you want to be notified if any changes are going to affect your plans.

Some airlines are better than others with their advance notification systems, but you are going to know as soon as possible if case you have to adjust any of your travel plans to accommodate the flight changes.

7. Your Carry-On – Be sure to have all documents, passports, credit cards, medications, and devices mentioned above in your carry-on, and have in your  personal possession at all times!  Your checked baggage may leave you, and never find it’s way back to you, or may arrive too late. While we all hope it will never happen to us, only put things in your checked baggage that you can live without, at least temporarily.

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –




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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time August 15, 2013 at 6:18 am

The points are basics that are presented above. Even the most seasoned traveler can forget one of the basics, hopefully, the end result will be looked upon with some sort of helpful result.

Making a list of everything that is needed, include the above, as well as clothes.

Believe it or not, people forget bathing attire, and either pay way too much for it on a ship or in a port, or, can not find their size.

Formal wear, dress shoes, basic underwear -bras, briefs/boxers, bras, belts, white and dark socks, panty hose? whatever, make a list,. Belts? Ties, sweaters, whatever – do not rely on the ships or hotels shop, nor trying to get a deal with foreign currency in a port.

AND the camera, and checking out your cell and purchased plan for any restrictions, and find out HOW TO turn it OFF to avoid huge fees while it sits in the safe or wherever turned on.

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time August 16, 2013 at 5:54 am

Don’t forget to take of your mail and newspaper

AND by all means, print out those chintzy cheap baggage tags that many cruise lines now provide on line, no more sturdy one as well as print out your docs, one cruise line makes you print 36 PAGES before you can get the true boarding doc’s

About those baggage tags – a luggage store even the luggage dept in some stores, may have suitable tag holders

OR MAKE YOUR OWN – use wide packing tape, CLEAR TAPE, cover paper tag, make hole with a paper punch, use plastic tie (anchor type) place on luggage – AND make extra and keep with you.

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time August 20, 2013 at 6:20 am

Just printed all of the documents and baggage tags for Princess cruise – only 5 pages and printing of as many baggage tags as needed – how cheap this seems – long gone are the days when you looked forward to your doc’s arriving in a nice real or faux leather packet with real baggage tags and the lot.

BUT – just don’t tape/staple a flimsy baggage tag from your printer on the bags as instructed – they rip off, bags get lost and, As stated, print them out, cut them to size, place WIDE packing (CLEAR) tape on both sides and take a SMALL stapler with you to put tags on at the PIER, or, use after making a hole in the tag with a one hole paper punch – plastic anchor type ties – better yet, buy luggage tag holder – AND DO NOT USE HOLDERS FROM ANOTHER CRUISE LINE – as the picture of a ship or cruise line name may wrongly get you bags to the wrong ship, ie: I have beautiful ones from Holland America, yet, I would only use them for HAL.

AND do print out itinerary, dining confirmation, bed configuration and anything else to back up your confirmations from the computer print out BY THE cruise line.

Comment from Tom
Time September 6, 2013 at 8:47 am

Thanks for the tips. Taking a Caribbean Cruise in October it’s our first cruise in a while. We got a super deal with Cruise Holidays. We be sure check this list a little closer to departure.

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