So you have booked your dream cruise, preferably with us, and you want to know what do to next. We receive a lot of questions about what you should do before you go on your cruise vacation so we thought we would share a small timeline guide to help you out. These may not all apply to you; however, you may be surprised by what you hadn't thought of doing.
3-4 months before sailing:
Check with your travel agent or the State Department for the identification required for your cruise. (Passport or proof of citizenship.)
Gather the necessary identification needed. If you need to replace a lost birth certificate, apply for a new passport, or renew one that is about to expire, start the paperwork now. Doing it at the last minute is stressful and often costly.
Look at the excursion options for each port and narrow them down to the ones that are MUST DO's. Your travel agent will let you know how to look at these.
60 to 75 days before sailing
Make the final payment on your cruise fare. Due dates vary by cruise lines and certain itineraries, but your travel agent will remind you when the payment date draws near. Failure to submit the balance due on time can result in the cancellation of your reservation.
Begin your wardrobe planning now. Try things on to make sure they fit and are in good repair (it’s amazing how stains can magically appear months after something has been dry cleaned). Set things aside in your closet.
If you need to shop, get started so you have time to find just the right thing (and perhaps to return or exchange just the right thing). Start early—last minute shopping for just the right thing can be hazardous to your nerves.
Make kennel reservations or engage a pet sitter. (If you are traveling during a holiday period, you may need to do this even earlier.)
Arrange for a house sitter.
Purchase your beverage package and internet package with the cruise line (if it was not already included).
Book your shore excursions.
30 days before sailing
If your children are sailing with you, check their wardrobes now (do it too early and the real little ones may actually grow out of things).
Make appointments for any personal services you wish to have prior to your cruise. For example, a haircut, manicure, pedicure, etc.
Get out your luggage and check the locks and zippers. Check for anything that might have spilled inside on a previous trip.
2 to 4 weeks before sailing
Log on to the cruise lines website and "Check in". This will be where you put in your boarding information to help embarkation day go smoothly. At the end you can print your cruise documents that you will need when you arrive to the ship.
Download the cruise lines mobile app if they have one.
Go over your personalized packing list again. Finish shopping.
1 week before sailing
Finalize your packing list and continue organizing everything in one area.
Buy film or media cards and check the batteries in your camera.
Refill prescription medications with an adequate supply (make sure you have your medications in the original bottle) and put medication in your carry on bag.
Make two photocopies of your passport or ID and credit cards. Leave one copy with a friend or your travel agent and carry the other separately from the originals.
Get cash. Get a supply of one dollar bills for tipping baggage handlers (at the airport, hotel, pier, etc.).
If you are visiting ports of call other than in the Caribbean, you might want to exchange some money ahead of time.
Arrange to have your mail held at the post office or ask a neighbor to pick it up (if necessary).
Arrange for lawn and houseplant care or snow removal during your absence (if necessary).
If traveling with small children, purchase little games or toys to keep them occupied while en route to your embarkation port.
3 days before sailing
Fill out your cruise luggage tags and follow the instructions in your cruise documents regarding attaching them. You will attach these tags the morning you will be boarding the ship.
Complete any other paperwork that the cruise line included with your documentation if you did not do so online.
Do last minute laundry and tidy up the house.
Pull out the luggage and begin packing.
The day before sailing
Take pets to the kennel.
Water houseplants and lawn (if necessary).
Dispose of any perishable food in the refrigerator.
Mail any last minute bills.
Set timers for indoor lights.
Reorganize your wallet. Remove anything you won’t need (check cashing cards, department store, or gas credit cards, etc), put it in an envelope, and leave in a secure place.
Finish packing and lock your suitcases.
Adjust the thermostat and double-check the door locks.
Arrange to be at the airport a minimum of two hours before your departure time. (Or earlier for international flights—follow the airline's instructions.)
Have photo ID and/or passport ready for check-in.
Slip your car keys, parking claim checks, and airline tickets/itinerary in your carry-on luggage. Never check these items.