Cruise lines commonly send out a last-minute travel checklist just before sailing, reminding us of important details to take care of before leaving home. Paying attention to these helpful suggestions can make getting to and on the ship easy and may have an impact on our entire travel experience. Still, from time to time we need to update suggestions for smooth sailing and supplement the information sent by cruise lines. This travel checklist update should help with that.
Before Leaving Home
- Newspaper Service Suspended – Better yet, make arrangements for a neighbor to pick up papers and/or circulars left on your front door that would indicate that you are out of town. This goes for paid subscriptions as well as publications that show up on your driveway without your approval.
- Alarm Company – If you have an electronic alarm, notify the alarm company of the dates you will be out of town as well as your local law enforcement agency.
- Mail on hold – Click here to notify the US Postal Service that you will be out of town. We suggest choosing the option to “have mail delivered” on your return (Rather than standing in line at the post office to pick it up)
- Bank/Credit Card Company Notified that you will be out of the country and to expect charges outside of your normal spending pattern. This is important so your bank will know you are out of town. As a security precaution, most banks will deny charges made from outside your normal spending area. Check on any daily cash withdrawal/charge limits on your card too- you may wish to change them while you cruise.
- Cash On Hand – A supply of $1 bills on hand for miscellaneous tips to porters and/or room service (we suggest $20-30 per person). Even on sailings in foreign lands, the ship’s crew will gladly take American currency. If traveling internationally, have the equivalent of $100 in the currency of your first country visited on hand. You can order this from your bank and will probably get a better exchange rate than at a convenient currency exchange company located at the airport.
- Emergency Notification – Friends and relatives can call you directly on the ship. They will need your ship, sailing date, booking number and stateroom number to do so. The easiest way to accomplish this is to have them call your cruise line directly and say “I need to call someone on a ship that is at sea right now”.
- Your Cell Phone Provider – Check with cell phone service provider; understand roaming fees or other charges for using your phone at sea. The easy way to eliminate surprise charges and still have a working cell phone with you to use internationally in case of an emergency is to just put it on “airplane mode” or “do not disturb”. If expecting a phone call and/or wanting to be in touch at all times, see your cell phone service provider for the best way to do that.
- Smart Traveler – The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Click here to enroll now.
Boarding The Ship
You will need three things to board the ship:
- Boarding Pass – Your boarding Pass printed
- Identification – Approved identification ready- double-check on cruise line website
- Form Of Payment – Debit or Credit Card to guarantee your onboard purchases. Cash is also accepted although not recommended.
About Your Luggage
Let the ship porters have your large checked luggage but keep your carry-on luggage with you.
Be Prepared Checklist
- Identification – Copies made of identification and other important documents- if you are bringing your smartphone along on the cruise, take photos of your passport, cruise documents, and luggage just before leaving home. That way those photos can be found easily if needed while traveling
- Back up Identification – Exchange a copy with someone else you are traveling with if possible. That way, if you lose your copy, another is close at hand.
- Identification Other Than Your Passport – You will be required to have your shipboard identification card, issued by the cruise line, to get on and off the ship. At some ports of call, a government-issued photo ID is also required. We suggest bringing along your driver’s license or some other photo ID for this purpose. Leave your passport locked securely in your stateroom safe.
- Safe Storage – Put them in the cloud- Another good way to provide this important redundancy is to take photos of these documents with a smartphone you are bringing along on the cruise. Also, be triple safe and store these photos “in the cloud” using your preferred cloud storage source or, if you do not have one, try Google Drive.
- Prescription Medications – Cruise lines suggest bringing prescription medications in the original bottles they came in, if not a copy of the prescription itself. I suggest taking a photo of the original bottle and storing it in the cloud and on your smartphone. I have never been asked to produce proof of medication but there is always a chance customs agents might indeed ask about those. More likely: a medical issue on the cruise causes you to visit a shipboard doctor who will ask what medications you take.
Keep In Your Carryon Luggage
- Prescription medications, cameras, electronics, jewelry, and other valuable items should be in your carry on luggage, NOT luggage you might check and have handled by others
- A Change Of Clothing Handy: Also, a change of clothing is a good idea too, perhaps a swimsuit too. Luggage may be delivered to your stateroom late in the day.
Do be sure to consider recommendations from the cruise line as well. They have line-specific tips and tricks to make the entire process go smoothly.
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