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What a great checklist MJ gave us this week to reference prior to going on a cruise vacation! It made me think of some other things I always do as well so here are a few additional things to do at various stages for you to consider adding to your pre-cruise checklists as soon as you book your cruise.
At 6 months out from departure:
Check that your passport will not expire prior to your return. Some countries require that your passport expiration date be at least 6 months after your travel is completed in that country. With a typical renewal wait time of 10-13 weeks or 7-9 weeks if expedited, giving yourself 6 months to get this accomplished is a good idea. It is recommended that you renew your passport at least 9 months prior to expiration.
Make a note of the final date you can cancel your cruise with a full refund should the need arise. Some cruise lines minimum cancellation fee is your deposit, others will fully refund you if you cancel at least 120 days prior to sailing. Set this date as a reminder in whatever means you use to keep track of important dates whether calendar software or your phone or the old pen and paper method.
It’s a good idea to check travel advisories and CDC recommendations for vaccinations necessary for the various places you are going to travel to or even activities you plan to enjoy. For example, my wife and I are both certified SCUBA divers and as such, we keep our tetanus booster up to date since the risk of encountering rusty metal underwater is somewhat huge.
At 3 months out from departure:
Verify your check in requirements and docs and make sure your cruise is paid in full. If you have already booked shore excursions, verify they are showing properly in your reservation and if not make corrections or book things you’d like to do as the popular ones do fully book by the time of embarkation. You can also book any specialty dining you might be interested in. You will also want to verify that your contact information is correct so you will get any upgrade offers that might be available to you. It’s a good idea to begin looking for these at 2 months out. Also consider, if it was not already included, pre-paying your mandatory daily tips so you don’t have as big a bill getting off the ship.
This is a good time to begin making a list of any specialty items you need to remember to pack especially related to shore excursions you have booked. If you booked a beach day or snorkeling then you’ll want to make sure you don’t forget sunscreen, your own mask and snorkel, beach shoes, toys or floaties for your kids and a bag to carry it all in. This may also be a good time to consider shopping for new swimwear too!
At 1 month out from departure:
This is a good time to check all of your flights for schedule changes and make sure all of your connections still work. Verify your hotel reservations are all in order. If your ship luggage tags are not mailed to you, log on to the cruise line website and then print these out to be ready to place on your bags (or request them from the line).
As MJ mentioned, check all your medications to ensure you will have adequate supplies for your entire trip as well as even planning a little extra in case of delays. Make sure you have your pharmacy app on your phone in case anything happens during your travels and you need to make arrangements for further refills. Also, don’t forget OTC medications you might need while traveling – pain relievers, cold & cough, seasickness, aloe gel for sunburn! Most of these things can be obtained en route if needed, but will cost you much less to purchase at home prior to departure!
Lastly check to make sure your travel insurance is covering you however you buy it. I buy a yearly policy from Allianz that covers all my travels for the year but there are times I let it lapse and then pick it back up if I am going to be home for a few months.
These are all of the things I do to ensure I have everything I need to enjoy a totally relaxing and memorable cruise vacation. Have I missed anything else you also do? Let us know in the comments! – René
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