How To Prepare For A Cruise

When you plan a cruise, simply deciding on the right cruise line and the right route is only the beginning. Confirming your reservations and getting the time off work is merely a starting point. After that you have to worry about transportation to and from the port, making sure you pack the right gear, and of course keeping track of the excursions you want to take when you are on shore and which dinner reservations you want.

Whether you are simply unpacking and repacking your suitcase for the 10th time, or you are starting the process for the first time, these tips will help you prepare for your cruise so that you can rest assured that nothing was forgotten.

A notebook from bookblock placed on a table with a magazine and coffee
When your cruise is finally around the corner, it's time to start the preparation for a worry-free vacation! | Author: Bookblock

List Making

It all starts with making a list. Even if you hate list making, the best thing you can do for packing is to write down all the things that you want to bring with you well before the night prior to departure. Simply writing things down will help you identify the things that you have to buy, what things you might have already packed, and what things you might want to purchase in duplicate. Items like toiletries, for example, might be best to have in duplicate so that you can keep your regular set at home and use it the day of your departure without having to worry about drying it off and shoving it in your suitcase last minute. Instead, buy an extra set and keep that in your suitcase long before your departure.

You will save yourself a great deal of headaches if you divide your list into two things: all the things you can pack ahead of time and those things that you can only pack the morning of. Again, things like a toothbrush are what people forget most often, so simply investing now and buying an extra to pack ahead of time will be well worth it. Of course things like your glasses or your phone charger that you are using the night before to ensure your alarm goes off need to be the things that you don't forget even if you leave it for the morning.


When you are packing for a cruise, you can also set out all of the things you will need for your departure day. Packing for the week long or multi-week cruise is great but you will want to prepare separately for the travel day itself. Whether you're driving to your departure port or flying, you will want someplace to store important documents, medication, snacks, and anything else. You also want to prepare your clothing so as to fit the weather at home and the weather where you are sailing. Layers are naturally the best solution to this problem.


Make sure you have money in order. Always have cash in case you need to get a snack while in transit, if you have to pay for porters or a shuttle, or extra gas during the way to the cruise ship. You can save yourself a hefty fee if traveling abroad by changing your money into the local currency at your bank. Most people forget this small detail especially with cruises that visit multiple countries. But changing your money when you get to shore or at the airport prior to departing from your cruise line will result in heavy fees.

On the note of money, always let your bank know that you're traveling abroad before you go so that if you have to withdraw local money in country from an ATM, your bank doesn't put a hold on your card. Even traveling to Caribbean ports can cause banks to place your card on hold if they see a foreign transaction.

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When on vacation make sure that you are actually on vacation. This means getting all business affairs in order. If you have any emails that need an answer, respond to them 24 hours before you leave. Set up your out of office response and let any coworkers know not to bother you except for specific emergency circumstances. The best way to enjoy your time is to create a work free zone.


On the note of preparations, make sure you print as many documents as you can. A lot of people today rely upon mobile phones to help them check into flights but having paper copies of all of your travel documents, especially your cruise documents and your luggage tags are imperative. Printing copies of your itinerary and of course copies of your passport if traveling abroad are paramount prior to departure. Obviously you don't want an emergency situation to happen, but having physical copies of your itinerary can help you when you are checking in at different locations especially if your phone stops working, you lose it, or you get to an area which doesn't have mobile friendly operations. Moreover, making copies of things like bank cards and passports, keeping them secure during your trip, will help you out in case of serious emergencies.

Emergency Contacts

Speaking of emergencies you want to seriously consider selecting an emergency contact and perhaps even a house sitter to come and check in on your home periodically. While you don't need to inundate this person with every bit of information about your travels, a close friend or nearby neighbor should be given the rough dates that you will be out of town as well as contact information and any flight details or hotel information that you feel comfortable sharing. This can provide a bit of peace of mind while on your travels and makes it significantly easier when you fill out the often required emergency contact forms.

Finally, if your particular company provides information about other members who might be sailing with you, you could find other cruisers prior to your departure. Be on the lookout for luggage tags and other things that indicate someone might be headed to the same area as you. When you are waiting in the lobby or an airport you can start your trip off on a great foot by chatting with other excited cruise-goers.

Check out these articles for more first time cruise advice: