Cruising Check List

A week by week guide to preparing for your cruise

You've looked through dozens of brochures, spoken to several representatives, and viewed what seems like thousands of itineraries. After doing much research and making many decisions, you have finally booked your cruise.

If you are like most cruisers, you have anywhere from several months up to a year until you'll embark on your Caribbean cruise. What now? There is much to do between the time you book your trip and the time you depart, regardless of the amount of time you have to do it. This pre-cruise check list will help you to optimize the time you have before your cruise, make your arrangements in an orderly and timely manner, and ensure that the necessities are taken care of before you take off.

Immediately After Booking

As soon as you book your trip, there are several things that need to be done. The first thing on your list should be to obtain a passport, if you do not already have one. A passport is necessary when traveling between different countries, and thus is essential for a Caribbean cruise.

Passports are not issued immediately – they can take weeks to process, so do not put off obtaining your passport until the last minute. You can find information on how to apply for your passport at the U.S. Department of State Website. Likewise, now is the time to obtain any visas you may need to enter the countries in which you'll be visiting.

Next, you should plan your trip to the departure port. If you live in the same state (or even luckier the same city), as the departure port, this may only include procuring a ride to the dock. For those who live farther away, however, you will need to look into booking airfare if you've opted not to book through the cruise line, and possibly a room at a hotel near the port.

Six Weeks to Two Months Out

At least six weeks before your cruise you will want to take the time to handle some of the smaller, but just as important details. Now is the time to book your shore excursions, spa treatments, and salon days aboard the ship. Experienced cruisers do these things early to ensure they aren't left out of the fun, and to ensure they don't have to wait in a long lines their first day on board.

Six weeks prior to departure you should also begin to prepare your credit card information for the ship. While you are on-board, you pay for nothing with cash. Everything is charged to your room via the credit card information you give them. When you board the ship, your credit card will be run for authorization for a specific amount of money (this varies based upon the cruise line). It's a good idea to check with your credit card company regarding your limit, and to advise them of your intended travels to Caribbean ports. This will alleviate atypical and foreign locale charges being possibly “flagged” as fraudulent.

Finally, at this advanced stage you will want to make specific arrangements for any pets, ask friends or neighbors to keep an eye on your home, to stop delivery of the mail and newspaper, and other minor details that can easily be taken care of well before your departure.

Just One Week Left to Go

Now we're getting down to the wire, and it's almost time to begin your vacation. This is the time when you should be getting your final vacation affairs in order.

Write out a detailed instruction list for whoever will be caring for your home and pets. Leave contact information with a friend, family member, or coworker in case of an emergency. Contact your home security alarm company and let them know you will be away, giving them the name and number of someone you trust to call in the event of a break in.

Now is also the time to refill all your prescription medication and to obtain copies of important medical records to bring aboard the ship in case of emergency. Purchase travel sized toiletries and anything else you need to buy before you pack, reread the information sent to you by the cruise line, and double check all of your travel arrangements.

Final Countdown

With only one to two days to go before your Caribbean cruise, it's time to double check those travel details and finalize your luggage. Using our Packing for a Cruisepacking checklist make sure you have everything you'll need on your trip packed and ready to go.

Take out any cash you'll need, obtain travelers checks and remind your credit card company you will be traveling out of the country (so they don't place their own hold on your account when they see that money has been spent outside of the U.S.). Get your house in order by doing any last minute cleaning and securing of windows and doors. Call and thank the person who will be taking care of your home while you are away.

Time to Go

Finally, the day of your trip has arrived! Calm those butterflies, because if you've followed our guide up until now everything should be just about ready to go. Today, the only things you need to worry about are double checking to ensure you have the correct travel information, all of your travel documents are on your person or in an easily accessible bag, and leaving your home on time. It's time to begin your long awaited and much planned for Caribbean cruise. Go on and enjoy it, you've earned it!

Check List

As Soon as You Book:

  • Secure any necessary visas

  • Plan your trip to the port

  • Obtain travel insurance

  • Get your passport

Six Weeks + Prior to Cruise

  • Book on-shore excursions

  • Book on-board spa and salon treatments

  • Speak with cruise line representative to secure any special arrangements

  • Prepare credit card information for the ship

  • Arrange for home/pet/child care

One Week + Prior to Cruise

  • Purchase travel sized toiletries

  • Refill prescription medications

  • Write home/pet/child care instructions

  • Pre-pack

  • Obtain medical records

  • Double check travel arrangements

  • Read entire cruise packet

  • Prepare contact information

  • Contact your home security company

  • Purchase travel items

One to Two Days Prior to Departure

  • Finalize luggage

  • Obtain cash and/or traveler's checks

  • Confirm travel arrangements

  • Get house in order

  • Secure your home

Day of Departure

  • Double check that all necessary documents are in your possession

  • Leave at the appropriate time

  • Relax, and enjoy your trip!


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