How To Be A Happy Sailor
Passports are recommended. You are responsible for the correct valid documentation to travel. Take a printed or easily accessed electronic copy of your passport with you and leave a copy with someone at home in case you lose your passport. This will greatly help if you need to replace it. If your itinerary doesn't require a passport, be sure you understand exactly what documentation is required and be sure you bring it with you or you will be denied boarding. That's not the way to start a vacation!
Online check-in with your cruise line's website or mobile app (if available) is a good way to get through the pier check-in process faster. To begin you'll need:
- Passports or other Required ID
- Reservation Number
- Ship Name
- Sail Date
- Pre/Post Cruise Travel Plans
- Emergency Contact Info
- Credit Card for onboard expenses (can be changed at pier checkin)
For your convenience, most cruise lines operate under a cashless system for purchases made on the ship. Onboard purchases will be applied to your credit card provided at check in on the last night of the cruise automatically. Always check your onboard account a day or two before the end of the cruise and clear up any discrepancies (rare) before that last night. The line at Guest Services the day of disembarkation is somewhere you don't want to be!
Your room key card acts as your payment method onboard and your pass to get on/off the ship in port so don't lose it! If you do, report it to Guest Services immediately.
So what about money while you're in port? Use your credit card whenever possible so you do not have large amounts of cash. Alert your bank of your travel plans so they will not put a hold on your credit card(s) and taking a back up credit card is advised. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express. For local currency, ATM's are your most economical option but be sure to check with your bank about using ATM internationally. Remember you're cruising to many ports and the local currency can vary so acquire only the cash you'll need. By the way, many Caribbean Islands will accept US dollars but expect change in the local currency so small bills are best.
In this day and age, you can't be too far from your cell phone, but when cruising you should call you cell phone provider now to inquire about cell usage on the ship and in the ports you plan to visit. Know how to disable your data plan to avoid a huge bill when you return. Wi-Fi connection is available onboard but charges may apply. The service is slow and is not generally good for streaming but fine for checking email or posting to Social Media. Some cruise lines are now implementing faster internet services so check for a packaged deal before sailing via your online account for the best value or purchase once onboard.
If you take prescription drugs or wear prescription eye glasses, take copies of your prescriptions just in case you need a replacement. It's been known for glasses to get broken and pills to fall into sinks. It is recommended to carry your prescription drugs in original containers with original labels. If your bottles are too big, ask your pharmacist for a smaller bottle for travel.
A mandatory safety drill called a Muster Drill will be held within the first 24 hours of a cruise. Listen for overhead announcements and follow instructions. All operations including bars and restaurants will cease during the drill and no foods or drinks are allowed. Your muster location is listed on your room key card and on the back of your stateroom door plus the crew will help direct you.
To keep you informed and help you plan your days, a daily newsletter will be delivered to your stateroom. It's full of dining, entertainment, and activity info plus a port guide section which often includes a map, shopping tips, and time to be back on board. The ship will NOT wait on you so make note of the ship's contact info in the Port Guide in case of an emergency while in port.
Follow instructions given for identification/documentation for leaving and returning to the ship or you'll hold up the line getting off the ship and may be waving bye if you don't have the correct ID and your room key card to get through security to board.
There may be a dress code for the dining rooms requiring long pants and closed toe shoes for gentlemen or even a jacket and tie depending on the cruise. Most cruise lines offer a casual option for dining where shorts and tee shirts are acceptable but swim suits are never appropriate dining attire unless you're at the poolside grill. During your cruise you'll see everything from evening gowns and tuxedos to causal but everyone is lookin' good. FYI, there's a photographer ready to take your picture everywhere you go ...say "Happy Cruiser"!
IMPORTANT-Camouflage clothing is forbidden for visitors in many countries so leave all the camo at home and save yourself a big hassle of a trip to the local Constable...yikes!
As the cruise winds down, you'll get info about disembarkation process. If you're offered the option for self-carry of luggage off the ship, be prepared to lug those suitcases up or down multiple flights of stairs because elevators may not run or will be overflowing with other guests. Another reason to pack light!
You'll likely have the opportunity to earn significant perks if you make a deposit on a future cruise while on board. Make an appointment early in the cruise to avoid longer waits near the end of the cruise. Read the fine print but take advantage of this opportunity and then call or email me the details 'cause I'll be just as excited as you and will love taking great care of you again!
Cruising is your chance to get outside your comfort zone and try out a dance class or a mixology class or learn about casino games or art...
Do as much or as little as you like!