Your cruise is booked, you are excited and ready to go – have you done all you can to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything? Want to learn some tips to saving time and money on your cruise?
If you are flying to your cruise destination, the day before you are scheduled to fly, please remember to go online and do your online check in with your airline. Make sure that there have been no changes to your flight times – if you’ve purchased travel insurance your insurance will not cover missed flights. You should arrive at the airport two to three hours before your flight (depending on where you are flying to) to make sure you check in and get through security well before your flight is pulling away from the gate. P.S. – It goes without saying we recommend travel insurance. If you can’t afford to lose all the money you have paid upfront for your vacation if you become sick and can’t go, you can’t afford not to purchase insurance.
With delays and the current state of the air traffic system, it is no longer recommended to fly in to your cruise destination on the day the ship is leaving – the new recommendation is to fly in the day before and stay overnight in a hotel. Not only will you be more rested (no getting up at 4 AM to catch a flight), in the rare event that your luggage doesn’t make it to the destination airport with you, you are giving the airline another 12 – 18 hours to get that piece of luggage to the ship before the ship leaves.
If you are traveling with someone else pack some of your clothing in their luggage and some of their in yours. If one piece of luggage is lost, neither of you will be totally without clothing until the lost piece is found.
Make sure you perform your online check in with the cruise line at least two weeks before your planned departure date. Not only does the Department of Homeland Security require the information from the cruise line, it makes the check in on the ship go very quickly. Once you arrive at the pier, present your passports, your credit card for your onboard expenses and the paperwork you printed and your check in should take only a few minutes.
If you plan on taking a cell phone, call your carrier to see if the phone works outside the U.S. and what your roaming charges may be. We’ve had clients who used their phones on vacation come home with a phone bill that totaled hundreds of dollars because they were not aware of roaming charges. Or you may find your phone doesn’t work at all in other countries.
Use TSA approved luggage locks on your luggage. The night before you disembark at the end of the cruise, you must put your luggage into the hall to be picked up and taken to the bottom of the ship and unloaded on the dock the next morning. Why tempt someone with an unlocked suitcase? A thief is more apt to steal from an unlocked piece of luggage rather than break a lock to get into yours. And NEVER pack valuables in your checked luggage – always take them in a carry on, along with any medications and electronic items. That goes for IPods, laptops, etc.
While you are on the cruise, check your shipboard account once or twice before the end of the cruise to make sure there are no errors. I keep all of my receipts for onboard purchases in an envelope and then compare them to the cruise line tally of what I’ve purchased. You’d be surprised how often errors are made and things may be charged to your cabin that you did not purchase. (Some lines give you the ability to see your account balance on your television screen, some you have to go to the guest relations desk to check). If you do this once or twice during the cruise, you will avoid the crush the last day when a preliminary bill is sent to your stateroom. Once those go to all guests, the lines at guest relations are very long to correct errors.
You can also pay down your account while on the ship during the cruise. Any extra cash we have we take to guest relations a couple of days before the end of the cruise and ask them to apply it to our bill. That makes our credit card charge at the end much less.
If you throw a bathing suit in your carry on, you will be able to use the pools on the ship before the ship leaves port. That is usually the one day that the chairs around the pool aren’t completely taken and you may have the pool to yourselves!
Take a large travel mug and fill it with free iced tea, coffee, juice or water in the buffets. You can save yourself the expense of having to buy these items to take back to your cabin. Some lines allow you to bring soda, bottled water or a bottle of wine with you. If your line allows it, it can save you some money instead of having to pay the expensive prices on the ship for daytime drinks.
Make a photocopy of your passport and leave in the cabin safe. If you should lose your passport while off the ship (you should always take it with you when you get off the ship along with a credit card- if you miss the ship when in port, you will not be able to fly to the next port without your passport and a credit card!) having a photocopy makes replacing a passport much easier. We take our passports in a waterproof travel “fanny pack” everywhere we go – I can have it on me even when swimming and the pouch keeps it from getting wet. You can purchases these at travel websites such as Magellans. They are called Splash Caddy’s and come in two sizes. These work incredibly well in keeping your valuables on your body and dry!