Cruise Travel Tips

Set sail smoothly with the right tips.

Both novice and experienced cruisers can benefit from cruise travel tips to help make their next cruise a stress-free and enjoyable experience. From making cruise reservations to setting sail, these tips can help.

Cruise Travel Tips: From Planning to Debarkation

Planning a cruise vacation is complicated. From arranging the proper airfare to packing the right clothes to arranging shore excursions, there are many steps that have to come together smoothly for a memorable and enjoyable getaway.

Before Booking

A great vacation starts before the first travel plans are made.

  • Investigate different itineraries and cruise destinations to discover ports of call that excite you. If you enjoy art, history, and culture, the different Mediterranean cruise areas may be perfect, but for tropical sun and pristine beaches, nothing beats western Caribbean cruises.
  • Learn about different cruise lines and what unique experiences they offer to passengers. Disney Cruise Line, for example, is phenomenal for families, while Cunard Cruise Line is more sophisticated and offers a classic seafaring ambiance.
  • Find a cruise travel agent with experience booking for your types of travel needs. A good agent may be able to suggest better vacation options and find discount cruises to match any budget.

When Booking a Cruise

When you are ready to book your cruise…

  • Check for available discounts such as promotional rates, past guest specials, and other ways to get the best price cruises.
  • Choose a comfortable cruise ship cabin. A larger, more luxurious cabin may be best for honeymoon cruises, but if you don't plan on spending much time in the cabin, a more economical interior cabin could be perfect.
  • Ask about upgrade options. Savvy passengers may be able to get cruise cabin upgrades, onboard account credit, and other savings.
  • Let your travel agent know about any dining time or cruise ship menu requests, such as the need for diabetic or Kosher selections.
  • Be sure you have the appropriate documentation to travel, and arrange to get a passport if necessary.
  • Arrange additional travel plans including airfare or transportation to the port terminal as soon as possible to secure the best deals and avoid delays.
  • Investigate all cancellation and refund policies for airlines and the cruise line. For passengers whose travel plans may need to change at the last minute, travel insurance is recommended.

Before Setting Sail

Once you know where and when you will be setting sail, these cruise travel tips can help you prepare for a fabulous vacation.

  • Take steps to get healthy to avoid any possible illness during your cruise. Eat a nutritious diet, exercise, and see your doctor about any potential health problems or risks.
  • Book cruise shore excursions online for the widest variety of options. Some cruise lines also allow passengers to book spa reservations and alternative dining plans before setting sail.
  • Check the weather at your ports of call so you can choose appropriate attire for the entire cruise. Shore tour descriptions may also provide clues about what clothing is best for each destination.
  • Find a free packing list for cruise ship travel to help you organize your luggage so you don't leave essential items at home.
  • Be sure that emergency contacts such as relatives and neighbors know how to reach you on board the cruise ship. Most cruise lines provide emergency contact numbers for this purpose.
  • Set up any lawn care service, newspaper or mail delivery interruptions, and pet care services so your home is taken care of while you're away.
  • Check with the cruise line a day or two prior to sailing to be sure there are no unexpected itinerary changes or other alterations that could affect your travel plans.

Embarkation Day

On the day you arrive at the port to set sail…

  • Arrive at the port early to take advantage of shorter lines and early check-in features if available.
  • Have your travel documents and identification easily accessible and completely filled out to minimize waiting.
  • Be patient with long lines while checking in. Thousands of passengers must board the ship in just a few hours, and being patient can keep you from stressing out unnecessarily.
  • Enroll children in kids' programs on board and take the time to meet with youth counselors to discuss any special needs or concerns.
  • Book shore tours, spa treatments, and alternative dining arrangements early if you were not able to book them online before setting sail.
  • Take a brief tour of the ship to orient yourself to the different decks and major public areas.

During Your Cruise

Make the most of your vacation with these cruise ship tips

  • Join in different cruise activities and don't be afraid to try something new.
  • Enjoy the opportunity to sample exotic and gourmet menus.
  • Monitor your spending, including drinks, gambling, and other expenses carefully to manage your money onboard without surprises.
  • Relax!


For a smooth, worry-free debarkation…

  • Double check all cabin drawers, cabinets, and storage spaces so you don't leave any items behind.
  • Know the proper meeting times and places for debarkation. Most lines assign passengers particular times to debark to keep the process flowing smoothly.
  • Fill out customs forms properly and completely to ensure a glitch-free pass through security.
  • Avoid over indulging on food or drink in the hours before debarkation so you aren't feeling ill or disoriented when leaving the ship.

The right cruise travel tips can make your next vacation as smooth sailing as any luxury voyage, whether you've never cruised before or if you're a veteran passenger.

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Cruise Travel Tips