Be Ready For Your Next Cruise Vacation

Cruise vacation

Vacationing on a cruise ship

Planning a cruise any time soon? Or just thinking about it? Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way.

Organization, Organization, Organization. As with any other type of travel organization is a must. If your cruise is in the ‘thinking about it’stage it is important to have all the information necessary to plan effectively. The responsibility is on you to be prepared.

First and foremost if you plan to visit any other country you should check with your travel agent or the country’s consulate to verify if you need a visa. Along with the visa you would need an up-to-date passport (also photocopies stored separately is good just in case you loose it on the cruise, one left at home). If your passport will expire within six months of your return date it is best you get a new one before you travel in case there is an emergency that prolongs your travel. Visa requirements are dependent on the country that issued your passport (citizenship) as well as your itinerary. Here is a website that is helpful in determining if you may need a visa www.wordtravels.com.

For travel between the USA this website might be helpful http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html#countries. Please note guests who appear for a voyage without required documents may be denied boarding

If you are travelling with a child make sure you have the necessary documents as well. Birth certificate and a notarized travel permission letter for minors traveling without both of their parents or legal guardians are required. Even one parent traveling alone with his or her child may encounter difficulties entering certain countries without a notarized letter from the other parent giving permission for the travel. If you have full custody or the child’s other parent is deceased, you may need relevant paperwork.

So you have sort out your passport and visa issues and booked your cruise. What next? Vaccination. Depending on which country you are headed, vaccination may be required. If it is required make sure you give yourself enough time for the medicine to take effect before you leave. Check here to see if the country on your itinerary requires you to be vaccinated wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/.

Registering new items before you leave for your cruise may be a good idea, especially if they are made in a foreign country. This is important if you want to avoid paying duty.  Items that are older than six month may not require this process but it’s always good to bring the receipt when in doubt.

Now you are ready for the cruise.  As with flying, one should arrive early. Several hours before is not a bad idea, the earlier the better especially for first timers. I would advice walk with food and water because processing might take a while with long lines. You will be given a number in the queue if you arrived before check in. Make sure to pack wisely. Essentials such as deodorant and change of clothes, toothbrush and paste, etc. should be in your carry-on bag because once the porter takes your labeled checked bag to be sorted and delivered to your room much later; you might get to your room and be there for a while before it gets there. Prior to embarking you will go through security and immigration will check you in and verify you have all your required documents. You will be given a key card which doubles up as your key for your cabin as well as a charge card that is associated with a credit card of your choice (guard with your life). Everything you charge on the ship will be charged to this key card which is your account while on the cruise.

Once you are called to board, you will be given a map to locate your cabin and you might be greeted by a photographer that takes your photo(pay if you order the pictures). One thing you should note is that cruises will milk you for your money, so be wise in your spending, frugal if you may. Drinks in souvenir cups are NOT complimentary so pack juices or water to alleviate cost.

If you are lucky enough to find your room in a short time, take the time to familiarize yourself with the map of the ship as well as pamphlet that informs you of specials or discounts you could take advantage of. Plan out your meal time and entertainment, if not for the entire trip; plan how you would be spending the rest of that day if you are not tired (schedule will become your friend).

As a routine, once everyone is on board there will be a practice emergency drill that you are advise to strongly participate especially if it’s your first time on this cruise. Instructions about where to locate emergency exits and life jacket etc. are usually found on the cabin’s door or on the emergency package in your room. Now relax and prepare to have fun. I will leave you just a few tips for a less stressful trip.

-Sunglass, waterproof ponchos & hat, air freshener (thank me later), sunscreen, empty shopping bag, zip seal bags (buffet food anyone?!), first aid kit, travel clock, multiple plug extension cord, charger, and flashlight are a few essentials that you might need in desperation at some point.

-Pack an outfit for every occasion, formal and informal, don’t go crazy.

-Dinners are usually scheduled with strangers. It’s a great opportunity to make new friends. Maitre’d are there to listen your complaints and handle your request if they are not so friendly.

-Due to customs regulations, the casino and shops will be closed while docked at ports. Check your daily schedule for meal times and locations as they sometimes vary on port days.

- If you can book your own excursions ahead of time do so, it might be easy on the pocket. Just make sure to be back on time before the ship sails.

-Be vigilant when you visit other countries and don’t forget to enjoy the experience.

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