How to plan for a cruise can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a first time cruiser.
So I thought I would write a to-do list to help you with the process. I love to make lists because I can see exactly what needs to be done and best of all, I can cross off each step as soon as it’s done and it feels good to visualize my progress.
Cruise Tips to plan for a cruise
Leave Home the Day Before
Unless of course you live within driving distance from the port. Don’t “miss the boat” as you would have to make your own way to the first island the ship will visit, which could be very costly!
Work with a Travel Agent
To book your flights and cruise. It doesn’t cost more and we are covered by the Consumer Protection in case something happens. Use the internet to find a hotel offering the best price and location.
Step 1- Homework
- Time of year – narrow down your search to the date(s) you want
- Length of cruise – you have a choice of 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11 or longer days
- Itineraries/islands – shorter cruises go to Eastern and Western Caribbean, longer ones will go all the way down to the ABC islands
- Cruise lines/ships – pick a cruise line to suit your needs, then choose a ship
- Budget – you need to figure out your budget for the next step
- Cabin – are you looking for an inside, ocean view, balcony, mini-suite or suite
- Dining – will you want assigned seating in the dining room or ‘anytime’ dining which means you decide where and when
- Upgrades – are you open to upgrades if the cruise line offers it to you
- Beds – what bed configuration would you prefer, single beds or queen size bed
- Travel Insurance – cruise lines offer travel insurance, which usually is more expensive than when you buy it from your travel agent
Step 2 – Book
- Book your cruise – you will have to make a deposit and pay the balance at a later date. Or pay in full if you are within 45 days before departure. Check with each cruise line for their terms on payment and refundable policy
- Get travel insurance – you need to buy it at the same time as your deposit
- Book your flights – as mentioned above, leave home the day before embarkation and a return flight after 11:30 – noon
- Book a hotel – we search online for the best price/value hotel deals tips – no need for hotel on the beach, not worth it unless you spend a few days. Look for a hotel offering FREE shuttle from airport and to port, FREE breakfast and doesn’t require payment in advance
- Book shore excursions – book your shore excursions online directly with local tour operators before leaving home, it will be a lot cheaper than from the ship. Check what others recommend on Cruise Critics, Trip Advisor and Facebook cruising groups.
- Arrange for sitters – for children and/or animals if applicable to you. We have 2 dogs and we book the sitter months in advance
- To and from airport – arrange for your ride or if you will be driving yourself, where will you park
- Shopping – for clothes/shoes you might need
- Medicine – make sure you have enough pills for the length of your cruise
- Make a list – of what you will be packing
- Laundry – make sure everything you want to bring is ready
- Lay it all out – make piles on the bed of everything you need to bring
- Divide – the piles into carry-on and suitcase
- Travelling – hang the clothes you will be travelling with and declutter your purse
- Pack – your suitcase and carry-on efficiently, roll most everything
Don’t stress and Happy Cruising!