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Bring your passport with you on the cruise, but leave it on the ship and take a paper or digital copy with you on a shore excursion.

JD Lasica/Special to Cruiseable

Bring your passport with you on the cruise, but leave it on the ship and take a paper or digital copy with you on a shore excursion.

10 essential items to remember before your cruise

Pay attention to these arrangements once you've booked your sailing

Take it from an inveterate traveler. Before going on any cruise or trip, there are some important details you need to handle in advance. And while some of these may seem like common sense, you’d be surprised how many people goof up on some of these basics.

Tips & tricks on cruise basics

We won’t talk about wardrobe, we've discussed that elsewhere on Cruiseable. While you might forget or omit a garment or two, you most likely don’t need help there. (Just don’t forget swimwear, underwear and something warm to wear on the plane or when the temperatures drop.)

Here, then, are 10 essentials to remember before leaving on your cruise. Clip and save these tips:


Passport (and visa, if needed). Bring them in your carry-on, even if passports are optional on your cruise. It's not a bad idea to have photocopies of each plus one of your driver's license — or take a photo on your smartphone. If you're going on any kind of cruise that stops outside the usual destinations (the Caribbean, Alaska), it’s important to check with the cruise line to see if you need to obtain a visa for any of the ports. While they should alert you, sometimes this falls through the cracks like it did to us on a voyage to South America when we had to pay a lot of money to get an expedited visa.


Medications, if any. Many passengers are on some kind of prescriptions that can't easily be fulfilled once you sail, so be sure to include them in your carry-on.


Sharing your trip's details. It's often a good idea to share your cruise itinerary, flight information and mobile number with a family member, close friend or a co-worker. Just in case.



Ready-to-go devices. Make sure your cameras (still or video) and mobile devices are fully charged and prepped. That means extra batteries, flash drives, sims cards, etc.


Inoculations. Again, there are itineraries where you'll need to be vaccinated for various diseases before they'll let you disembark. So be sure to check this out with the cruise line.


Ticket holders. Make sure you have your cruise and airline tickets stored in a handy-to-reach place such as a pouch or folder. Not a bad idea to make duplicate copies. And place all bottles that aren't TSA-compliant in your checked baggage so you don’t cause a delay at security.



Chargers/power strips. Many cruise lines fail the mark when it comes to letting you conveniently recharge your electronic appliances, such as smartphones and tablets. You don't want to be arguing with family members about who gets priority access to the juice. So it doesn't hurt to pack a small portable unit that powers several devices at once.


Cash. You'll likely need some cash for occasions when credit cards aren’t accepted or appropriate, such as tipping tour operators, cabbies, etc. Also, I've come to learn that in some countries it’s better to use cash than a credit card, which can be hacked. It happened to us in the Dominican Republic.


Emergencies rations. Always bring a little snack just in case. A bag of nuts, chips, trail mix. You never know. Once our flights were so delayed that we didn’t get to our destination until after midnight and nothing was open and we were very hungry. We did share a small bag of peanuts. Boy, did breakfast look good the next morning.

10Children and pets. Sure, you won't forget your kids who aren't coming with you, but make sure you've made arrangements with the relative or friends about keeping in touch. And very few people will forget about their animals, but it happens. And you don't want Molly or Buddy to fend for themselves.

In our New to Cruising series

Patti Pietschmann
I'm the LA Travel Diva and spend time cruising with first mate Richard, traveling the world, reviewing fine restaurants, going to plays, movies and events. It's the good life.


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