Preparing for your cruise – Part Two
Following up on our October 28th Blog, we are more valuable tips for cruisers – whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned Sailor!
What to Pack:
There are several factors you should consider before you begin stuffing that suitcase: What’s the weather like in the ports you’re visiting? Are you going snorkeling? Horseback riding? (Your adventures will dictate what type of clothing/accessories you’ll need). Will there be formal nights or theme parties onboard? Will you be decorating your cabin door?
A great resource for packing lists can be found at: https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=1436 Check it out before you begin deciding what to pack!
What you can – and can’t bring – on a cruise:
Each cruise line offers a list of prohibited items on their website. That’s always a good place to start. But, in general, there are some items that aren’t allowed on ANY cruise ship.
Just like ANY form of public transportation, drugs, weapons and even alcohol are not allowed onboard (although some cruise lines do allow you to bring a limited amount of wine/and or beer – CHECK FIRST!). Then there are items that just aren’t safe on board a ship: clothing irons, hot plates, and anything else with a heating element, aren’t allowed (exceptions include hair dryers – which are provided by most cruise lines – and curling irons). Candles, musical instruments, drones and even wrapped gifts could be denied during the embarkation process. Again, check the cruise line’s website!
Let your Credit Card and Cell Phone providers know you’re traveling:
There is nothing more frustrating than pulling out that credit card, to purchase your long-sought-after souvenir, only to have it denied because your provider challenges an out-of-country charge.
To avoid this scenario, it’s a good idea to call your credit card companies and let them know your travel itinerary to avoid any red flags for suspected fraudulent charges. It also ensures that your ATM won’t be blocked. Your bank may even be able to suggest an affiliate bank in other locations that won’t charge foreign transaction fees.
To avoid a HUGE surprise when you receive your first post-cruise cell phone bill, be sure to check about roaming fees with your provider. Your phone may not work at sea – and if it does and you leave it on, you’ll be charged roaming fees (ouch!). You may want to purchase a temporary phone plan to use in ports (a cellular-at-sea plan). If not, be sure to put your phone in “airplane mode” as soon as the ship pulls out of its’ homeport. Then check to see if your phone service waives roaming fees in the ports you’re visiting.
How much money do I need on a cruise? And do I need to exchange US dollars?
Remember that all onboard purchases will be charged to your shipboard account and paid by whichever credit card you assign to your cruise. But what about showing extra appreciation for service onboard – or when you go ashore?
One of the tips Dan and I learned early in the game was to take a stash of small bills with us – one’s and five’s – as well as a few twenty’s. This gives us ready cash for the porters who help check our luggage upon arrival or when leaving the ship, room service, waiters who keep our cocktail glass filled, guides/drivers on shore excursions, and anyone else who gives us great service. You may also want to bring some of the local currency (purchase at your bank BEFORE your cruise for the best exchange rates!) if you’re traveling to foreign ports – especially if you don’t have a debit card that you can use at a local ATM or want to avoid paying foreign ATM fees and exchange rates on credit card purchases.
What if you have a special dietary restriction?
Your shipboard crew really does want to make certain that your cruise is all that you’ve dreamed of. They’ll go the extra mile to take care of any special needs you might have, including dietary restrictions.
It’s always a good idea to contact the cruise line before you sail if you have a severe food allergy or a disability – or if there are just special circumstances you want to make your crew aware of before you arrive. They will provide tips, assistance and even special menus to accommodate your needs. Some cruise lines let you make note of your special needs in your online passenger profile preferences. If not, just call Customer Service for your cruise line.
Special Needs Accessories:
Cruise lines do partner with wheelchair, scooter and other mobility device providers to help you get around while onboard and in port, but T & D Travel Partners, LLC is a proud Travel Accessory Advocate and we can be your “one-shop” device provider! We can arrange to have whatever equipment you need to be delivered either to the terminal or your cabin. This not only includes mobility devices, but oxygen, special beds, etc. You’re just a phone call away from having all of your travel needs provided!
If you require auditory, visual, or developmental assistance, let us know before you embark so we can help pre-arrange for your needs. (This includes a cabin designated to accommodate you.)
Caring for Baby:
Traveling with infants/toddlers provides its’ own challenges, but the ships are ready to help make it as easy as they can! Of course, most cruise lines will require that you provide your own diapers and bring your own stroller (although Disney and MSC provide strollers onboard and in some ports – like Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay). Royal Caribbean is one of the lines that allows you to order diapers ahead of your cruise vacation, in their online store, and have them delivered to your cabin before you arrive. All cruise lines will provide a crib, if we give them advanced notice. And if you need a bathtub to bathe baby, be sure to let us know so we can make sure you select a cabin that provides one!
Parking for your Cruise:
Be sure to print off the directions to the port when you print off your boarding pass. They should include directions to the port parking facilities; if not, they will be available on the cruise lines’ website. If you’re flying in and haven’t arranged for transfers from the airport to the port, you can take a cab – so make sure you have the address and terminal number in case the driver doesn’t have that information. Also be sure to have cash, in case your tax doesn’t accept credit cards (which happens to be the case in Miami!).
If you’re driving in, you have several options: use the port parking facilities or go online and find a reputable port parking site. Every port has many to choose from – just know that price per day doesn’t include taxes and fees and less expensive is NOT always your best choice. We recently used a port parking site in Port Canaveral that offered the best price, but we waited for an hour and a half, in the hot sun, for the shuttle to the ship. They were horribly unorganized and rude. Check reviews before you book!
The parking site should include the shuttle ride to and from the ship at no extra cost. Some parking companies offer garages, which is nice since your car will be covered while you’re gone. And remember to have some cash on hand to tip your driver!
If you have any other questions before you cruise, make sure you reach out to us! We’re always here to ensure that your vacation is all that you’d hoped for!
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