Travelers often focus intently on making the air and sea arrangements for their cruise, but put off thinking about the details of their trip until a night or two before they leave. This can lead to problems, making the days leading up to the cruise particularly stressful. Thatís no way to start your dream vacation.
Here are twelve tips to help you avoid travel nightmares and properly prepare for your upcoming cruise:
1. Check your documentation. Donít wait until the last minute to look at your passportís expiration date or double-check visa requirements for your cruise. Even before making your cruise booking, check to see what kinds of documentation are needed and make sure you have the time required to get it done. If time is of the essence, there are a number of passport and visa expediting services that can help.
2. Purchase trip insurance. Consider purchasing trip insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of an unforeseen transportation problem, family illness, or other issue. When buying your insurance, itís important to make sure that your flights are wrapped into the coverage. Some vacationers buy insurance directly from their cruise line when purchasing their cruise and then purchase their flights separately. When flight problems arise, they discover that their trip insurance only covers the cruise. In addition, donít wait until bad weather surfaces to purchase your travel insurance. By then, it wonít be covered. Make sure you understand what is covered by the trip insurance policy youíre purchasing and read the fine print carefully.
3. Let your cruise line know about any dietary restrictions. Most cruise lines are superb at handling food allergies and dietary restrictions as long as are alerted in advance. Alert the cruise line about dietary issues immediately upon booking, follow their procedures, and then check back with them several months in advance to make sure everything is set.
4. Confirm prescription and immunization needs. Before international travel, consult the Center for Disease Control website to see what immunizations are recommended for the countries youíll be visiting. Talk with your doctor to get advice and find out if you need to go elsewhere for immunizations. In addition, make sure you have enough prescription medications to last for your entire cruise vacation plus a few extra days in case of delays.
5. Get proper shoes. Many cruise vacations necessitate a lot of walking, particularly on European itineraries. Sometimes hiking excursions are offered as well. If youíre planning to purchase new shoes for your cruise, buy them well in advance and break them in before you leave. Itís also important to research your shipís dress code and appropriate clothing for the locations in which you will be cruising. Some shore excursions may have apparel or gear requirements as well.
6. Coordinate house and pet sitting arrangements. Home and pet sitters often book up quickly, particularly during holiday seasons and the popular summer travel months. If youíre planning on using these types of services, do your research and confirm arrangements well in advance of your cruise. Make sure to provide sitters with detailed instructions and contact information for the entire time you will be traveling. Get in touch with your travel agent or the cruise line to find out how relatives and sitters can reach you in an emergency while youíre on the ship. Most cruise lines list this information on their websites as well.
7. Get adapters for international travel. Itís easy to focus on getting ready for your cruise vacation and forget about hotel stays. If youíre staying in an international hotel or cruising aboard an international ship, particularly in Europe or Asia, double check to see if adapters or converters are needed to charge electronics. Itís also helpful to charge everything completely before leaving home, eliminating the last-minute rush while in an international hotel. If youíre planning to download apps or movies, plan to do that at home as well.
8. Contact your cellular service provider. Before going on your cruise, check will your cellular provider to find out what the voice and data charges will be in each of your port destinations and ascertain the costs involved in using the shipís onboard cellular service. Doing so can eliminate costly surprises on your bill when you return home. Before leaving home, research alternative methods of getting in touch, including mobile apps, Skype and international SIM cards.
9. Make specialty restaurant and excursion reservations. If specific tours or specialty dining experiences are important parts of your cruise experience, be sure to make your reservations in advance. Popular dining times and excursions book up quickly. Remember that onboard dining reservations and tours purchased through the cruise line can be cancelled with no charge as long as proper advance notice is given.
10. Try out your cameras and video equipment. Photographs and videos are important ways to capture memories and document your cruise vacation. Donít wait until the night before you leave to find out that your camera doesnít work. Put your equipment through a dry run at least a week before your trip. In addition, consider bringing along a back-up camera just in case something happens along the way.
11. Call your bank and credit card companies. Several days before departure, contact your bank and credit card companies to let them know that you'll be traveling, your dates of travel, and the destinations that you will be visiting. This is very important. Banks and credit card companies monitor your charges and if anything out of the ordinary appears, such as your card number being used in international destinations, the company will refuse the charges and put a lock on your account. While you are on the phone, check with your bank or credit card companies to see if they impose any additional fees for using your cards internationally. If so, make a list of the charges for each card. This will help you to determine which card(s) to use.
12. Stop newspaper and mail deliveries. If no one will be at home while youíre on your cruise, make sure to contact the postal service and newspaper circulation departments to stop deliveries while youíre gone. Sometimes these deliveries happen, however, even if proper arrangements have been made. Have a neighbor double check to make sure that papers and mail arenít conspicuously left at your home while youíre away.