For the person who is wondering how to make their luxury cruise vacation dreams a reality, there are many things to consider. Which cruise would be the best one for you? What time of year should you plan to sail? What should you pack?
How to prepare for your cruise vacation
It’s important to put together a solid plan in order to ensure your cruise will be a magical experience. It simply wouldn’t do to be underprepared and miserable on your special vacation.
Gather Your Documents
You will need a valid government-issued photo ID. It is essential that the name on the cruise and airline tickets is the same as the name on your ID. If you recently:
- legally changed your name
You’ll need proof of your name change. It’ll have to be presented alongside your ID. The acceptable forms name change proof:
- marriage certificate
- marriage license
- legal name change court document
For certain international cruises, you’ll need a valid passport and travel visa. Be sure to check over the ID and passport requirements on your cruise’s website well before your departure date. Some cruises, such as Disney Cruise Line, require you provide your passport number at least 75 days before the start of your vacation.
In addition, your passport should be valid for at least six months prior to your travel dates. It should have two or more blank pages. Keep in mind even if U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) doesn’t require you to have a passport, your cruise company might.
Selecting a Cruise
Many cruise companies offer electronic newsletters to which you can subscribe, allowing you to be notified of special sales and discounts. Often, sales available for:
- previous guests
- local residents
- military personnel
- special affiliates
If you’re thrifty and research cruise deals, you won’t miss an opportunity to save some of your cash. Grab limited time offers/sales IF they make sense for your cruise vacation.
Did you know there are cruise ships that sail on rivers? You can expand your cruising horizons and check out some peaceful river cruises. These are typically short and sweet with plenty of:
- port stops
- scenic views
- a more intimate family environment on a a smaller vessel
In addition to selecting a cruise, book shore excursions your cruise offers. Popular ones sell out fast, so sign up quickly for the ones you want, otherwise you could miss out on the best opportunities.
Finally, it’s important to pick the right time for your cruise vacation. In May-October, Europe and Alaska are ideal places for a cruise. April is the best time for a Caribbean cruise, and in November-March Australia and South America have ideal vacation weather.
Kid Friendly Cruises
If you have children, there’s no need to fret about how to manage them or keep them entertained on a cruise that offers family programs.
- AIDA cruise line boasts professional child care at their Kids Club as well as high-class and sophisticated entertainment for adults.
- Disney Cruise Line takes great lengths to cater to families. There are: musicals, deck parties, fireworks at sea, first run films, friendly Disney characters in costume, family-sized staterooms to lounge in, and more.
- Norwegian and Royal Caribbean are also perfect for families. Really, when it comes to kid and family-friendly cruises, there are many good options from which to choose.
While shorts, sandals, and flip-flops are generally acceptable cruise attire, some cruises have formal events. For these nights, you can pack a tux, a button down, tie, heels, or a nice shimmery dress. You can go for your prim Sunday best, business casual, or make a statement with a poofy prom dress–whatever floats your cruise ship. Before your cruise vacation, always make sure to check dress codes. Beyond formal nights, you might need to wear a little more than shorts and a tank-top for certain events.
When cruising, if you checked bags and had the cruise line handle all of your bags, it’ll take a bit for those bags to arrive in your stateroom. You’ll want to pack a small carry-on bag for essentials you want close. Pack a swimsuit, sunscreen, a tablet, a book, etc.. You can bring this bag with you during onshore excursions and use it to store souvenirs.
Make sure you have the essentials in your bag:
- your phone charge
- extra clothing in case you get wet or dirty
- aloe vera for treating pesky sunburns
- a pair of sturdy and supportive shoes
One fun item to pack: a Pashmina. Use it as a lightweight wrap when you’re cold, or as a stylish beach towel.
When it comes to traveling, it’s important to plan ahead. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, so be flexible and expect to forget one or two things. Most importantly, remember to relax and have fun!
About the Writer: Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health and fitness. She also developed a passion for traveling during her college years. Today she spends most of her time writing about the things she loves.