How To Prepare For A Cruise

When planning your cruise vacation, simply deciding on the right cruise line and the right route is just the beginning, confirming your reservations and getting the time off work a mere starting point. 

After that, your next challenge is sorting out your transfers, luggage, on-shore excursions, and of course, which restaurants you’re dying to try. 

So whether you’re unpacking and repacking your suitcase for the 10th time or you’re starting the process for the first time, we’re here to help you prepare for your cruise so you can spend your time focusing on what matters most – getting excited and enjoying your holiday.

A notebook from bookblock placed on a table with a magazine and coffee

When your cruise is finally around the corner, it's time to start the preparation for a worry-free vacation!

Bookblock

Making a list

Even if you’re not a fan of making lists, the most efficient way to pack is to write down all the things that you want to bring with you (well before the night beforehand!) 

Making a list will help identify what you have, what you need to buy and what you might want to buy a duplicate of. Items like toiletries, for example, might be best to have two of – so you can keep your regular set at home and use it the day of your departure, without having to worry about drying it off and shoving it in your suitcase at the last minute. Let’s face it, it’s likely you’ll forget it anyway. 

You will save yourself plenty of headaches if you divide your list into two things: all the items you can pack ahead of time (think clothes, shoes and swimwear) and items that you can only pack the morning you leave (think toiletries, glasses and the phone charger next to your bed).

Making a cruise packing list

When you are packing for a cruise, you can also set out all of the things you will need for your departure day. Packing for the week long or multi-week cruise is great but you will want to prepare separately for the travel day itself. Whether you're driving to your departure port or flying, you will want someplace to store important documents, medication, snacks, and anything else. You also want to prepare your clothing so as to fit the weather at home and the weather where you are sailing. Layers are naturally the best solution to this problem.

Packing for your cruise

So you’ve made your list and everything’s in order. All good, right? Well, something that many people forget is the departure day. Packing for the week-long or multi-week cruise is great, but you’re best off preparing separately for the travel day itself. Whether you're driving to your departure port or flying, you’ll want someplace to store important documents, medication for motion sickness, snacks, and anything else.

You also want to prepare your clothing to suit the weather at home and the weather where you’re sailing. No need for two jackets on a French Polynesia cruise! Of course, layers are naturally the best solution to this problem. Keep in mind that depending on the cruise line and dining options, formal nights have a specific dress code.

Money for your cruise vacation

Make sure you have your money in order. Always have cash for important things like snacks while in transit (arguably the most important), porter or shuttle fees, or extra petrol on your way to the cruise ship. 

Does your cruise visit multiple countries? If so, it’s best you change your Aussie dollars into the local currency at your bank before you travel – exchanging onshore or at airports can really add up. 

On the note of money, always let your bank know that you're travelling abroad before you go – a declined bank card or credit card is a real mood-killer. Even cruising close-by countries to Australia like Vanuatu or Fiji can cause banks to place your card on hold for ‘suspicious’ foreign transactions.

Cruising, work free

It’s hard to disconnect these days, but when you’re on holidays, actually make sure that you’re on holidays. This means getting all business affairs in order. If you have any emails that need an answer, respond to them well before you leave. Set up your out of office response and let any coworkers know not to bother you except for specific emergency circumstances. And, really, the world isn’t going to implode if Shelley from accounts doesn’t get a reply for a week. The best way to enjoy yourself is to create a work-free zone.

Documents need to cruise

On the topic of not-so-enjoyable preparations, make sure you print all of your important documents. It’s easy to rely upon your phone to check into flights, but having paper copies of all of your travel documents – especially your cruise documents and your luggage tags – are still useful. Don’t forget to check visa requirements for stopping at certain ports of call.

Think about it. In the event that you lose your phone, or you’re in an area without mobile-friendly operations – you’ll be kicking yourself that you didn’t just print those extra travel documents. And in the case of a more serious emergency, making copies of things like bank cards and passports is a safe bet too. 

Emergency Contacts

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to add this section. But as life happens, emergencies happen too. Before you head off, choose an emergency contact and perhaps a person to check in on your home from time-to-time (particularly in summer – you don’t want to come home to a house full of dry plants!) 

While you don't need to inundate them with every detail about your travels, you should give a close friend or nearby neighbour the dates that you’ll be out cruising, as well as contact information and any flight or hotel details that you feel comfortable sharing. This can give you some peace of mind while you’re travelling, and make the emergency contact forms a breeze to fill out.

Finally, if your particular company provides information about other members who might be sailing with you, you could find other cruisers prior to your departure. Be on the lookout for luggage tags and other signs that indicate someone might be headed to the same area as you. Don’t be shy – if you find yourself in a hotel lobby or an airport and spot a familiar sign, you can start your trip off on the right foot by introducing yourself to other excited cruise-goers.

Check out these articles for more first time cruise advice:

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