A cruise is arguably the easiest and most hassle-free vacation you can book. But it’s not always a good idea to just pick your ship, pack a suitcase, and be on your way – that’s why you need a cruise checklist.
Here are 9 things you should add to your cruise checklist:
1. Prepaid gratuities
One thing you’ll want to double-check is if you’ve prepaid your gratuities. If not, you’ll need to anticipate this charge appearing with the rest of your onboard expenses at the end of your vacation and budget accordingly. If you do prepay your gratuities, this charge will be added to the cost of your cruise, so you will pay it off before you even sail.
Before cruising, be sure to check out what excursions your cruise line offers in each port. You can also check third-party companies like cruisingexcursions.com to compare options and prices. Although ships always have a shore excursions desk onboard, why waste vacation time waiting in line to speak to someone behind a desk when you can make your plans in advance?
3. Specialty dining
Once you’ve booked your cruise, start exploring the specialty dining options on your ship. If any catch your eye, go ahead and make reservations online right away, as these venues can sometimes become booked up or not have any availability at your preferred dining time once you’re onboard.
4. Entertainment reservations
On many ships these days, including Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, you’ll want to make reservations for the onboard entertainment such as the AquaTheater shows, Broadway shows, and even the comedy shows. Cruisers with reservations are seated first, while everyone else has to wait in a “standby” line for whatever seats remain. Don’t skip this pre-cruise step if it applies to your cruise; the fewer lines to wait in, the better!
5. Download apps
Practically every major cruise line now offers its own downloadable app to digitally enhance your vacation, and it’s important to remember to download the app before your cruise, as it will be too late once you sail away from the port. These apps typically feature the daily ship activities, onboard food options, deck maps, and more, so you won’t want to miss out on such a useful tool. Remember to keep your phone in airplane mode and then specifically turn just the wifi back on to use it!
6. Ship layout
It’s always a good idea to get familiar with the layout of your ship before you cruise. Even smaller ships can be difficult to navigate, with galleys sometimes blocking your passage to opposite sides of the ship or certain stairways causing you to get lost. Studying the layout ahead of time also helps you to identify what venues and activities are around your stateroom (if you haven’t checked this already) as well as all the ship has to offer.
7. Drink packages
Before you cruise, look into the drink packages that your cruise line offers by going to their website or asking your travel agent. If you decide you want to purchase one, do so before you leave, as most of the time these packages are less expensive prior to cruising and increase in price once you’re onboard.
8. Travel insurance
While not technically a necessity in order to cruise, trip insurance is absolutely recommended, as it can prove to be a lifesaver to even the most unsuspecting traveler. Use your travel agent to help you pick a policy that fits your needs, as every policy differs in coverage in regards to trip cancellations, injury, illness, baggage damage or loss, etc.
Last but not least, before you leave home create a folder with all of your travel documentation: cruise boarding passes and extra luggage tags, confirmation emails from excursions purchased through third parties, trip insurance policy, parking reservations, airplane boarding passes and flight info, IDs/passports, etc. It may seem cumbersome in the digital age, but sometimes all your paperwork in one folder rather than having to sift through apps or emails can make life a lot easier.
What do you have on your cruise checklist?