If you’re a cruise newbie, or if you’ve only done it once or twice or not in a long time, an upcoming vacation on the sea can be a bit stressful. There are arrangements to be made for your absence, packing, figuring out what you want to do on board the ship and the places you make landfall, and more stuff to tend to.
Of course, the whole point of your floating getaway is to de-stress, so take a few deep breaths and read on. With some informed planning and a conscious effort to stay organized, preparing for your cruise will be a breeze.
Start on the below about a week before you set sail. That gives you plenty of time to get things in order without having to scramble around; rushing and panic make it much easier to overlook things.
Tips for Preparing for a Cruise
- Write a checklist of everything you have to take care of (using this article to help); it’ll keep you better organized and make it much less likely that you forget to do anything
- Create a separate checklist of everything you need to pack for your cruise
- Don’t wait until the last minute to go shopping for the items you still need to buy
- Gather all your identification and travel documents together and secure them in a waterproof plastic baggie
- Make sure you’re filled up on all prescriptions; take along more than you need and split it up into two groups so you can have one in your carry-on and one in your checked baggage
- If appropriate, request a note from your doctor explaining any medical condition you have and emergency care instructions
- Inform your cruise line in advance about allergies or other special dietary needs, or any other important personal concerns
- Let your bank and credit card issuers know ahead where you’ll be traveling so they don’t freeze your account for suspicious activity
- It’s usually a good idea to have cash on hand, including in the local currency of places you’ll be stopping during the cruise
- Put together a budget if you need to watch your spending—it’s very easy to blow through lots of money quickly on a cruise
- Research the destinations where you’re going ashore to determine the most rewarding ways to spend your limited time there—pay attention to warnings about tourist traps and scams
- Spend some time studying the offerings on board your ship and read user reviews online to identify things you really want to do, and that you might be better off skipping
- Finalize arrangements with anyone taking care of your kids, pets, plants, etc. while you’re away
- Make a concerted effort to get through all those pending emails, return phone calls, and other tasks so you’re not distracted by them right before you leave—or once you board the ship
- Be as absolutely ready to walk out the door as possible the night before your cruise departs