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Pre cruise planning checklist

I am usually pretty organised and like to have everything planned before I cruise. A month is the point at which a cruise starts to feel like it is really going to happen, before that it seems more like a distant dream than a reality. I am so happy to say that I HAVE A CRUISE THIS MONTH. It’s just a little 5-night cruise from Southampton but I am SO excited. (To hear my about the itinerary and my other upcoming cruises click here).

1 – Port Research

The first thing that I do whenever I book any cruise is to look at the cruise ports. It’s really important that you do your research before boarding your cruise using websites like cruise critic to find port reviews. Cruise lines will tell you about the ports as you visit but they are likely to tell you things like ‘oh yeah, you need to get a shuttle bus into town, that’ll be £20’ when in reality it might only be a 10-minute walk. Doing your research before you go means that you can arrive at each port armed with some valuable insider knowledge!

I am heading to Rotterdam, Le Harve, Bruges and Cherbourg. If you have any tips about any of those places please do let me know!

erasmus bridge rotterdam

2 – Excursions

It is usually easiest to look at the excursions online before you cruise, that gives you time to read reviews and research alternative private tours id necessary. Most cruise lines websites will have details of excursions that are available on your cruise far in advance. I am not taking any excursions on this cruise (and I never really do) so that is easy! The ports that I am visiting on this cruise are relatively easy to explore on my own and so that is what I will do. Simples.

3 – Logistics

How are you going to get to the cruise port? If you are driving you’ll also need somewhere to leave your car. I’m lucky enough to be leaving my car with a friend so I can avoid the costs of car parking (yessssss!)

It is around the 1-month mark that you’ll start receiving emails from the cruise line telling you when you should be arriving at the port. These emails are just a guideline so don’t worry at all if it says you should check in at 10 am but you won’t arrive until 2pm. Cruise lines just send out these emails in an attempt to spread out the flow of arriving passengers.

pre cruise planning arrive at port royal caribbean

4 – Onboard credit

When you get to the port to embark you will be asked how you would like to pay for things when you are onboard. I usually give them my credit card at this point. You are also able to set up multiple cruisers to the same credit account which may mean accepting responsibility for somebody else. I always think that this is the true test of a relationship! In some circumstances you are able to set up this information before you cruise, however you will still have to bring the card with you to the port.

5 – Drinks packages

On my upcoming cruise, the only thing that I am planning to spend onboard is a little money on drinks. I am not a big drinker and I don’t think I will be spending a lot of time onboard drinking. If we were cruising the Caribbean this may be different as I would like to try some cocktails, however, I’m cruising up and down the English channel so don’t think it’ll be quite the same!

Below is my raspberry mojito from the mojito bar onboard the Norwegian Getaway, I had the unlimited beverage package on this cruise and really made the most of it, I think I tried most of the mojitos.

Drinks norwegian cruise line unlimited beverage package

6 – Photo/Internet packages

It is also usually best to investigate this pre-cruise as they can sometimes be cheaper to buy in advance. I am not purchasing either so that’s easy.

7 – Gratuities

what are gratuities? cruise line

If you haven’t paid for your gratuities in the price of your cruise fare you can expect a bill for these on the last night of your cruise. Isn’t bad enough that you have to leave, they also want to bill you! Ew! So mean. I usually set aside the money for gratuities pre-cruise (if I haven’t paid for them already).

To learn a little more about gratuities click here: Gratuities guide (I did write this guide last year so some of the prices may be out of date, I suspect they might have risen although it is possible that they may have fallen… (yeah right! ha ha))

8 – Shopping

At this point, I start to think about if I need to buy anything for the upcoming cruise. I have a feeling that it might rain on my upcoming cruise so I have invested in a couple of coats (and a new bikini strangely!). It’s always the boring things that I need to buy like travel adapters and battery packs!

Below is a picture of things that I always have when I travel. Make sure you have those headphones, snuggly jumper and travel sickness pills (if you’re anything like me). Check out whats in my hand luggage here. 

Whats in my hand luggage book headphones plane travel pillow jumper socks macbook travel sickness pills

9 – Travel insurance

Don’t ever forget your travel insurance, I usually use a price comparison site to compare deals then go for one that is relatively cheap. If you are from the EU make sure that you get your free EHIC card which entitles you free or reduced medical treatment in EU countries. You basically pay for healthcare at the same rate as a local (if they have a national health service then you can use it).

ehic card uk travel insurance

10 – Check in online

If you are able to it is best to check in online, you can also normally print your luggage tags before you go which saves you time at embarkation. If you can’t though don’t worry, you are able to do all of this at the cruise port. You do have to fill in quite a lot of information when you check in online, you will probably need to provide your passport details again so make sure that you have your passport handy. You’ll also be asked questions like ‘when will you arrive at the port’.

Now we’ve thought about all of that, let’s get to the checklist:

pre cruise planning checklist

Have I forgotten anything? Please let me know!

I think that I have everything organised and am ready to go, but any tips or things I may have missed will be greatly appreciated.