Read these 11 Preparing For Your Cruise Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Cruises tips and hundreds of other topics.
In addition to your cruise wardrobe, here are some additional items that will make your cruise more enjoyable:
When it comes to cruising, especially international cruises, it pays to plan ahead to be spontaneous. Isn't that contradictory? Not if you want to be ready to grab a great travel deal and go on short notice. See how you score on this “ready-to-go” cruise travel document checklist.
Do you have a current passport? If you are dreaming of taking a cruise someday, get a passport now. Passport deadline dates fluctuated throughout 2006 and 2007; however, regulations now require a current passport to return to the
To obtain a passport for the first time, you must go in person to a passport acceptance facility. Check http://iafdb.travel.state.gov for a list of acceptance facilities anywhere in the
Heads Up: If you already have a passport, check the expiration date. Many countries won't allow you to visit if your passport expires within six months! Don't put off getting or renewing your passport. The Department of State recommends allowing a minimum of six weeks after application to receive your passport. When new passport requirements became effective in 2007, the number of passport applications increased dramatically. Don't cut it close; allow 90 days and relax. In an emergency you can pay for expedited service, but it is costly.Will you need a Visa? You may be required to obtain a visa when cruising to certain countries outside the
Are your health records and vaccinations current? If you have chronic health problems or severe allergies, always travel with a summary copy of your medical records. Compile a list of emergency medical contact numbers and keep them with your medical records and other important travel documents.
Check immunization requirements for countries you may want to visit if the opportunity arises. Even if specific vaccinations or preventive medications are not required, it's smart to ensure that immunizations such as typhoid, smallpox, tetanus, and influenza are up-to-date. Talk to your physician about a two part hepatitis A and B vaccinations. If vaccinations are required, they must be recorded in booklet PHS-731, International Certificates of Vaccination. Keep vaccination records with your passport.
Are your travel documents organized? File and carry all important travel documents in a documents folder in your carry-on luggage. Never pack important travel document
The well-prepared traveler doesn't depend on any one method of travel funds. A combination of all four travel funds offer the peace of mind of knowing that your travel needs for pleasure and in an emergency are covered. Here are some additional money smarts for handling cruise travel funds:
Credit or charge cards are a fourth important source of cruise travel funds. The most widely accepted credit cards are Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Discover. Using a credit card also offers the benefit of a wholesale bank exchange rate and many credit cards offer perks like cash rebates or airline mileage.
Most importantly, when you use a credit card for purchases, you get some form of purchase protection. Never pay for a purchase to be shipped without using a credit card. Pay cash and fail to receive the goods…you are out of luck. Use a credit card for purchase and you have some “insurance.” Check with your card company before leaving to determine what travel benefits and protection are offered.
Even if you are opposed to using credit cards on a daily basis, cruise travel experts strongly recommend that you take at least one major credit card with a high available balance for travel. If you have a medical emergency or another type of emergency, a credit card is a must-have.
Whether you are cruising close to home or across the world, an ATM is a convenient and easily accessible source of cash. Even with the usage fee; you typically get a best rate of exchange since cash withdrawals from an ATM are at the wholesale bank rate. There are literally thousands of automatic teller machines linked through systems like Cirrus, Star, Honor and Visa. (Learn what systems an ATM card is valid with before leaving on your cruise.)
Most ATM cards also function as debit cards when making purchases. A debit card does just what it says. It debits your checking account for the amount of the transaction. Since most debit cards are processed through the Visa or Mastercard system, it is as easy to use them for purchases. That said, they do not offer the purchase protection or benefits of major credit cards. They are the same as paying cash.
Finally, do not depend on just an ATM card for your travel dollars. ATM systems can be “down” or a card's magnetic strip can be damaged and access to cash is cut off.
Travelers check usage has declined since the introduction of ATM/debit cards. However, many travelers still choose to get some “emergency” cruise travel funds in the form of American Express Travelers Checks. If you use travelers checks as your primary travel funds, you will get the best exchange rate at an American Express office, bank or post offices. Avoid the exchange bureaus on every corner in port shopping areas. They have the poorest rate of exchange and there are extra handling fees or per item fees for exchange transactions.
Heads Up: Do not keep your receipt with the traveler's checks. Have your travel companion carry the receipt for your checks and vice versa. If you are traveling alone, keep the receipt in a separate bag.)
Whether you are cruising in the
Always plan to carry a cushion of cash. That said, carrying too much cash is dangerous. Never flash your cash. Purchase a good money belt or neck pouch before you travel and never carry more cash than you can afford to lose.
Travel experts recommend taking $20 in $1 bills. Regardless of the local currency, $1 bills are usually welcomed. Also when traveling with cash, ask for crisp, undamaged bills. Old and worn paper currency or bills that have been defaced with words or drawings are illegal or may not be accepted in some international locations.
Some travelers get foreign currency before leaving on their cruise. However, most local banks do not keep foreign currencies in stock. It must be ordered in advance for a fee. Most international cruise ships have an automatic teller machine (ATM) onboard with currency for each port of call and there are plenty of ATMs in ports around the world.
Air travel is fraught with delays and cancellations. Travelers miss cruise ships daily because flights are delayed or cancelled by weather and mechanical problems.
Don't cut your travel day too close. Whether you opt for a fly/cruise package or personal air travel, it pays arrive at your cruise port a day or two before your cruise. Relax and enjoy local attractions with the knowledge that you will be at the dock and ready to sail on time.
There are typically two ways to get to your cruise ship. If ports are within driving distance, you save the cost and aggravation of air travel. If not within driving range, you must fly to your departure destination and there are important decisions to make.
You may select a fly/cruise package where the cruise line books your air travel, meets you at the airport and transports you to the ship or a pre-cruise hotel. The advantages of a fly/cruise package are convenience and personal service. It's a great feeling to enter the baggage claim area and see a cruise representative holding a sign welcoming you. Once bags are claimed, you are transported directly to the ship or hotel. If you stay at a cruise hotel overnight, you are met around , escorted to the ship and will be among the first passengers to board. Also with cruise air if your flight is delayed, the ship is more likely to wait a reasonable amount of time for you or help you “catch up” to the ship at the next port.
Sometimes cruise airfare specials cost less than booking your own travel; sometimes it cruise air costs more than booking independently. Booking your own air travel for a cruise offers more flexibility. You can fly with the airline and at the time of day you prefer. However, if you book your own air travel, you really are on your own. No cruise representative will meet you at the airport. You must arrange your own transportation to the ship. This is usually not a problem in major cities where the cruise port is nearby. However, when cruise ships depart from ports that are far from the airport (such as
Don't be intimidated when you look at the cruise brochures with glamorous couples decked out in formalwear or frolicking by the pool in elegant designer swimwear. In reality, you see a mixture of everything when it comes to cruise attire. First-time cruisers typically over pack. To defend against guests with seven bags for a seven-day cruise, airlines and cruise lines impose baggage restrictions per passenger. Don't panic.
If you choose cruise attire wisely and pack smart, one large upright suitcase per person and one carry-on bag should be enough for a seven to ten day cruise. Follow these guidelines to be well-equipped and well-dressed. Your only excess pounds will be the ones you gain with all the wonderful cruise cuisine!
When was the last time you knew in advance that you, a traveling companion, or a family member would break a leg or get sick? When the last time you knew in advance a storm would close the airport and stop all travel or you would open the mailbox and find a summons for jury duty just days before your dream cruise? Travel is expensive and it pays to spend a few dollars more to protect your cruise investment.
Research insurance you already have. Many seniors are not aware that Medicare does not provide coverage outside the
Medical travel insurance covers you in the event of illness or injury during your trip and, if necessary, for medical evacuation. In developing countries, medical care is limited and you may need medical evacuation to get adequate care. Medical evacuation costs $35,000 to $50,000 or more on average. Trip cancellation/interruption insurance offers protection in the event something unexpected forces you to cancel or interrupt your cruise. Most policies cover trip cancellation/interruption due to illness or death of you, immediate family, or your travel companion (even if not related). You are also protected if your travel agent, tour company or cruise line defaults. You are covered if weather or certain other external forces cause you to miss your trip. This coverage also includes baggage loss and delay protection. A comprehensive travel policy covers both medical and trip cancellation/interruption events.
Watch for pre-existing medical condition clauses. If you or an immediate family member has a chronic medical condition, check a potential cruise travel insurance policy carefully to be sure you are covered. Most waivers of pre-existing conditions require purchase of the insurance within seven days of booking your trip. Plan ahead!
Least expensive is not the only criteria you should use to select a cruise insurance policy. Policies are priced by type of coverage, length of trip, cost of trip, and sometimes travelers' ages. Average cost of comprehensive travel insurance is approximately $65.00 per $1000 of the trip cost.
Visit www.worldtravelcenter.com or www.insuremytrip.com to research and compare travel policies from a multitude of companies. Compare benefits, options and restrictions to select the policy that best meets your personal travel needs. As with all travel documents and agreements, read policy information carefully before you purchase.
Pack your travel insurance certificate and emergency numbers in your carry-on bag with other important travel documents. Make an extra copy to leave at home with family.
Hopefully, travel insurance is protection you will never need; however, it can be a lifesaver. Don't leave home without it.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|