Arrive in Port the Day Before to Ensure Timely Boarding

If you want to be a smart cruiser, there are 12 things that clever cruise passengers always do. First, they arrive in port the day before their cruise to avoid any potential delays and ensure that the ship doesn’t leave without them. It’s a smart move, especially if you are flying into your port city and want to minimize the risk of missing your cruise due to airline delays. Second, smart passengers book things ahead of time, such as internet access or drink packages, to take advantage of discounts offered by the cruise lines. They understand the rules and limitations of drink packages, calculate whether it’s worth it based on their drinking habits, and consider if everyone in their cabin needs to purchase it. Additionally, they purchase travel insurance for peace of mind and coverage for any potential medical emergencies or evacuation. They choose cabins at the end of the hall to minimize noise, get vaccinated before sailing for a safer cruising experience, and book cabins on the upper decks for easy access to main areas of the ship. They also sail with a passport instead of a birth certificate for greater flexibility in case of emergency departures and faster disembarkation. Additionally, smart passengers budget for additional expenses on the ship, as on average, 30 to 40 percent of the cruise fare is spent onboard. They take the stairs when possible to avoid long lines and waits for elevators, and they periodically check their stateroom account to ensure accurate charges and detect any unauthorized spending. Being a smart cruiser means understanding and managing your onboard expenses effectively.

Preparing for Boarding

Arrive in port the day before

One of the best ways to ensure a stress-free boarding process is to arrive in the port city at least one day before your scheduled departure. This allows you to avoid any potential travel delays or last-minute complications that could arise. Plus, arriving the day before gives you the opportunity to explore the port city and start your vacation early.

Book things ahead of time

To make the most of your cruise experience, it’s important to plan and book certain things ahead of time. This includes activities, dining reservations, and excursions. By planning in advance, you can secure your spot and avoid disappointment if things get fully booked. Most cruise lines offer online portals or apps where you can make these reservations easily.

Understand the rules and limitations of drink packages

Many cruise lines offer drink packages that allow you to enjoy a variety of beverages throughout your trip. However, it’s essential to understand the rules and limitations of these packages to avoid any unexpected charges or disappointments. Some packages may exclude certain types of drinks or have restrictions on the number of drinks you can order at once. Familiarize yourself with the details of the package before making a choice.

Calculate the worth of the drink package

When deciding whether to purchase a drink package, it’s important to consider your drinking habits and the overall value it provides. Calculate how many drinks you typically consume in a day and compare the cost of purchasing drinks individually versus the cost of the package. Keep in mind that if you don’t drink alcohol or prefer other beverages, such as water or soda, there may be other package options available.

Purchase travel insurance

Travel insurance is something that should never be overlooked when going on a cruise. While no one wants to anticipate any mishaps or emergencies, having travel insurance can provide peace of mind and financial protection in case of unforeseen circumstances. From trip cancellations to medical emergencies, travel insurance can cover a variety of situations and help you avoid potential financial burdens.

Get vaccinated before sailing

In the era of global health concerns, it’s crucial to prioritize your health and the wellbeing of fellow passengers and crew members. Before setting sail, make sure to get the necessary vaccinations recommended by your healthcare provider. This not only safeguards your own health but also contributes to maintaining a healthy environment onboard. Consult with your healthcare professional to ensure you have all the required vaccinations prior to your cruise.

Arrive in Port the Day Before to Ensure Timely Boarding

Choosing the Right Cabin

Choose cabins at the end of the hall

When selecting a cabin, consider choosing one that is located at the end of the hall. These cabins tend to have less foot traffic, resulting in a quieter environment. Additionally, being at the end of the hall can provide you with more privacy and minimize disturbances from fellow passengers passing by your cabin. It’s a small detail that can greatly enhance your overall cruise experience.

Book cabins on the upper decks

If you’re prone to motion sickness or prefer a smoother sailing experience, booking cabins on the upper decks can be a wise choice. Higher decks tend to experience less motion from the ship’s movement, resulting in a more comfortable stay. Additionally, being on the upper decks often offers stunning views of the ocean or port cities, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings.

Sail with a passport instead of a birth certificate

While it’s true that some cruise itineraries allow passengers to sail with just a birth certificate and government-issued ID, it’s highly recommended to travel with a valid passport. Having a passport not only ensures smooth embarkation and disembarkation processes but also provides you with a convenient form of identification while traveling internationally. Additionally, in case of any unforeseen circumstances, having a passport can be indispensable for quick and easy travel arrangements.

Arrive in Port the Day Before to Ensure Timely Boarding

Budgeting for Additional Expenses

Budget for additional expenses on the ship

It’s important to be aware that the cost of your cruise fare does not typically cover all the expenses you may incur onboard. Additional expenses can include gratuities, specialty dining, spa services, cocktails, and shore excursions, among others. To avoid any financial surprises, it’s wise to budget for these additional expenses in advance. This way, you can enjoy your cruise without worrying about going over your intended budget.

On average, 30 to 40 percent of the cruise fare is spent on board

To have a better understanding of how much to budget for onboard expenses, it’s helpful to know that, on average, 30 to 40 percent of the total cruise fare is spent on board. Keep this in mind when calculating your expenses and allocate funds accordingly. It’s always better to be prepared and have some extra money set aside for any unexpected purchases or activities that you may wish to indulge in during your cruise.

Arrive in Port the Day Before to Ensure Timely Boarding

Navigating the Ship

Take the stairs for shorter distances

Navigating around the ship can sometimes be a little challenging, particularly when elevators are crowded or unavailable. In these situations, taking the stairs can be a smart move. Not only does it provide a good opportunity for light exercise, but it also helps you reach your destination faster when traveling shorter distances on the ship. Embrace the stairs, and you’ll be amazed at how effortlessly you can move around the ship.

Expect long lines and waits for elevators

While taking the stairs is a great option for shorter distances, it’s important to be prepared for long lines and waits for elevators, especially during peak times or when multiple passengers are trying to access them simultaneously. Patience is key during these moments. Consider planning your activities with some buffer time to allow for any potential delays when relying on elevators to get from one deck to another.

Periodically check the stateroom account

To ensure that you’re staying within your budget and to keep track of your onboard expenses, it’s wise to periodically check your stateroom account. Most cruise lines provide a convenient way to access your account through their mobile apps or via the cabin’s TV. By monitoring your account, you can catch any discrepancies or unauthorized charges early on, allowing you to address them promptly with the guest services team.

Arrive in Port the Day Before to Ensure Timely Boarding

Managing Onboard Expenses

Use ship’s app or cabin TV to access onboard account

As mentioned earlier, most cruise lines offer mobile apps or cabin TVs that allow you to access your onboard account. Take advantage of this feature to keep track of your expenses easily. You can view your charges, check your remaining balance, and even make adjustments to your package or dining reservations, all from the comfort of your cabin or using your mobile device. Embrace the convenience of technology to manage your onboard expenses smartly.

Check the account for accurate charges

It’s always a good idea to review your onboard account regularly to ensure that the charges are accurate and in line with your expectations. Mistakes can happen, and catching them early on can save you from unnecessary disputes or frustrations at the end of your cruise. If you spot any discrepancies or have any questions regarding the charges, don’t hesitate to reach out to the guest services desk for clarification or assistance.

Monitor the account for unauthorized spending

While cruise lines have robust security measures in place, it’s still essential to monitor your account for any unauthorized or suspicious charges. Identity theft or fraudulent activities can happen anywhere, including on a cruise ship. By keeping a vigilant eye on your expenses, you can quickly identify any irregularities and report them to the appropriate personnel onboard. Being proactive in monitoring your account gives you peace of mind throughout your cruise.

Arrive in Port the Day Before to Ensure Timely Boarding


Being a smart cruiser goes beyond just enjoying the onboard amenities and activities. It involves understanding and managing your onboard expenses to ensure a smooth and worry-free vacation. By arriving in port the day before, booking necessary arrangements ahead of time, choosing the right cabin, budgeting for additional expenses, and utilizing the available resources to monitor your expenses, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your cruise experience. So pack your bags, set sail, and embark on an unforgettable adventure while keeping your finances in check. Bon voyage!

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