Cruise Ship in the Caribbean Getting ready to leave
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8 Things You MUST Do Before Your Cruise!

Cruise ships
Cruise ships

There you go, you booked that amazing cruise now you’re wondering what you need to do to get ready for it?  Are you perhaps wondering about the next steps you need to take to be ready for your dream vacation? Or, what do you need to do to be sure that your holiday will be perfect?

Let’s have a look together:

Complete the Online Cruise Check-in

The first thing you’ll need to get ready is to complete your online checking on the cruise website. Every cruise line has a web portal for booked clients, so they can complete their check-in.  Furthermore, they allow you to enter passport information and print out the boarding passes.  Naturally, this step is mandatory.  As a result, you won’t be able to print your boarding passes until you’ve entered all your information.

On line checki n
Always check in online as soon as you book

Cruise lines typically require the following information:

  • Travel Documents Information (I.e. Passport #, Date of Birth, Nationality etc).
  • Mailing address
  • Emergency Contact Information (Hint: Not your travel partner)
  • A credit card on file for your account onboard.

I believe this is an important step to complete to get you ready for your cruise.  Actually, better yet, you should be able to complete this step as soon as you book your cruise. This way, if something is amiss, or if you have some missing documents you’ll have plenty of time to fix it.

While you’re in the web portal, you can also notify the cruise line about any food allergies or any other dietary restrictions. Furthermore, you can also notify the cruise line of any medical condition that they need to be aware of.

Complete Your Flight Arrangments

Booking your flight is an integral step to get ready for your cruise.  Avoid the mistake of waiting too long! To be sure, if you haven’t already booked your flight when you booked your cruise, you should do it as soon as possible. (Here are tips on how to book your flight for a cruise).  Additionally, don’t forget to book your transfers to the port as well.  For example, you can check with the cruise line for transfer, or you might do it independently.  Indeed, in some remote areas or exotic countries, a cruise line transfer might be a better option.  In this way, you won’t have to deal with language barriers, currency conversion or not so trustworthy taxi drivers.

Cruise line transfer - A passenger getting ready for his cruise
Make sure to book your transfer

Check Your Travel Documents and Visa

If you’re cruising overseas, you should check your passports’ expiry date.  You see, most countries require a passport valid at least 6 months from the date of arrival.  Certainly, if you made sure that you fulfill the validity requirements, it will help ensure you won’t be denied boarding at the airport or at the port.

On the same topic, you should check if any of the countries you’ll be cruising to require a visa to enter. Keep in mind that even if one of the ports of calls requires a visa you might be denied boarding at embarkation. Even though you might have no intention of getting off the ship in that particular country.   As a result, its best to get ready and triple check the visa requirements before your cruise.

Indeed, your travel agent or the cruise line will be the best person to ask if you require a visa or not. In many cases, the cruise line will be able to help you obtain the visa onboard for a small fee.  And as always, when in doubt, get it in writing!

Port embarkation

Do Some Research On The Ports You’ll Be Visiting

I always start researching the ports I’ll be visiting way in advance.  By researching the ports, it will serve a few purposes.  For example, it’ll make me very excited about my upcoming cruise and will allow me to pick the right excursion for the port.  Also, it’ll also allow me to plan ahead if in case I need a shuttle from the dock to downtown.  For example, one of my favorite places to start my research is  There, I find it has a lot of very useful information about the most important ports  of call.  And then, I’ll cross-reference some of the larger travel guide websites such as  Lastly, I’ll search for the local tourists’ board of each destination.

Additionally, I find that I can learn from others who are also getting ready for their cruise.  For example, you can sign up for Cruise Critics Rollcall for the particular cruise you’ll be on. There, you can find a lot of very useful information about the itinerary and interact with fellow passengers.

Singapore - Celebrity Cruise Ship Getting Ready to Leave
The port of Singapore

Book My Excursions Before The Cruise

I like to book my excursions way in advance. By booking my excursions in advance, it ensures that the best ones are not sold out. I get myself ready by starting my search for excursions on the cruise line portal. When I see the one I like I check reputable independent providers like Viator and see if I can find the same tour for cheaper or if they offer even better ones. In my personal experience, I found cruise line excursions to be comparable in price to others. For that reason, I tend to stick with the cruise line.

If the port is in a big city, one of my favorite things to book is the Hop On Hop Off bus.  Indeed, I think it is an excellent way to explore a new city and have some very useful information about where I’m visiting.  I recommend booking the Hop on Hop off bus on the cruise ship itself, or at the cruise terminal.  In this way, you can be sure to be picked up at the terminal.

Hop On Hop Off
Hop On Hop Off Bus – Barcelona

Make Onboard Reservations

A few weeks before my cruise, I like to get ready and make my onboard reservations for specialty restaurants, spa treatments, and anything else I might like to book in advance.

Also, I recommend making sure that the cruise line knows about any special occasion (birthdays, anniversary, etc.) we are celebrating while onboard.  For example, the cruise line web portal has a special section to make restaurants or spa reservations.  On this topic, we only book the spa in advance if they have some very good specials.  Otherwise, we book our treatment on board.

Happy Birthday
Chocolate Birthday Cake

Plan what to pack

About a week before departure, I’ll get ready for my cruise by planning what to pack. We have an entire article dedicated to what to pack for a cruise. I will always bring my favorite cruise gadgets.

If I can, I recommend traveling using only a carry on bag.  By doing so, you won’t need to check your bag at the port and wait for it to arrive in the cabin.

Ready for my holiday
Ready to go on my cruise

Get Ready and Print All The Cruise Related Documents

The day before my trip, it’s getting serious.  I get myself ready by printing all the trip/cruise related documents: boarding passes for the flights and cruise, luggage tags, reservations, etc.

It’s very important to keep all the documents with you in your carry on bag. For example, you don’t want to show up at embarkation and realize that all your cruise documents are in your checked bag…. believe me I’ve seen that happen more than once.

Island Princess Cruise ship Getting Ready to Leave from Huatulco Mexico
Huatulco Beach

I hope you find these few tips helpful.  And, if you have more suggestions please leave a comment below.

-Happy cruising


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