Prepare for a Cruise

When preparing for a cruise, you should create a "to-do" checklist of the items needed prior to your trip. These items should include required documents, medication, vaccinations, appropriate attire\clothing, and booking your shore and land excursions in advance.

Documents to bring with you are the cruise line booking documents (the names of the travelers must match your identification documents), passports, visas, passage contract, medical insurance documents, and travel insurance policy. The names on you booking documents and identification (passport) should match. If they do not, contact the cruise line before your trip. For primary identification, a passport is the best id to have, however, if you are not travelling outside of the country where you live, some cruise lines do accept alternate forms of ID such as an Enhanced Driver's License, Government issued Identification card, NEXUS Card Air Travel, SENTRI or FAST cards. A Visa may also be required if travelling to a different country. Be sure to check out any Visa requirements between your country of residence and the country where you will be travelling well before booking to ensure that you will be allowed to travel. Also, if you have a gift card for the cruiseline that you want to use on board, don't forget to bring it and check the balance here.

Medications should be brought with you and carried on your person. Do not pack medication with "checked" luggage. In the event luggage is lost, even for a short time, you will be without your medication for at least a day or more.

Vaccinations for influenza are always recommended when travelling domestically or internationally. There may be other required vaccinations by the country that you will be travelling to and in some cases, you may be required to produce a document certifying that you have received the vaccination prior to allowing you entry. Be sure to check the Center for Disease Control website at and the World Health Organization at for any necessary vaccinations and additional documentation requirements.

Appropriate clothing for a cruise should include attire that you will be comfortable in at the destination as well as on the ship. If travelling to a chilly region, such as Alaska, you would want to bring a few long sleeved shirts to layer your clothing as well as a thick coat and rain slick. If travelling to a warm region, such as the Bahamas, you would bring swimwear, beach towels, shorts, sandals, and light shirts. In both chilly and warm weather climates, you should also pack an umbrella (it can rain in Alaska as well as in the tropics with very little notice) and shoes with rubber soles for the ship - comfortable for lots of walking and with a good grip for the decks of the ship. In addition, you should also plan on bringing clothing that is "smart casual" for evening dining. Smart Casual includes skirts, dresses, slacks, and sweaters for ladies and pants and open-neck shirts for men. Attire for Formal Dining includes Evening gown, cocktail dress, or elegant pant suit for women and Tuxedo, dark suit or dinner jacket and slacks for men. You will not be permitted in the cruise ship dining rooms if you are wearing inappropriate dinner wear such as pool or beach attire, shorts, ball caps and casual jeans with fraying and/or holes. Shoes must be worn in the dining rooms.

Shore and land excursions may usually be purchased from the time of booking up until about 4 days prior to your cruise date depending on the cruise line that you have booked your trip with. It is not necessary that you book your activities for the shore at the ports, however, availability is usually limited to a certain number of people and if not booked in advance, you may find that an activity you really wanted to do cannot be booked at the port or even on your first cruise day on the ship.