A cruise holiday is something everyone should give a try at least once in their lifetime. The immaculate facilities and the long itinerary of fun-filled events make cruise ships a unique place to spend your vacation week. Not to mention that all the stops you’ll make along the way will provide the opportunity to fulfill the adventurer in you.

But if you’re new to the cruise scene, you’re probably wondering where to begin in terms of preparing for the trip. And if you’ve not been on a cruise for a while, now you may need a quick refresher. If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place!

Planning a cruise vacation may not seem as hectic as a normal one. Yes, you’re right about that one. While you don’t have to survey accommodation, restaurants, and transportation, there are other things you should prepare for before you get onboard. Here are some tips on how to prep for a cruise vacation.

Prepare the necessary travel documents

This may be obvious, but hey, we’re human. It’s normal to overlook the technical stuff when we’re so fixated on vacation itself. So, before you start planning what to wear for the formal nights on the ship, you may want to get your travel documents in order.

For starters, check your passport’s expiry date; you want to make sure that it will stay valid for about six months after your cruise trip. Even if the ports you visit do not require a passport, Cruise Critic suggests that it is a good idea to bring it with you anyway. Apart from that, be sure to do some research on the visa requirements in the country you’re visiting. You could carry out the application yourself, but you could also pay the cruise company for a convenient and worry-free application.

Clear up your banking details and have some local currency in hand

First things first, you should call your bank to inform them about your international trips. Alternatively, you can take this proactive step by adding your travel dates into the online system that most banks now have. This ensures that the bank doesn’t bar your debit or credit card under the pretense of suspicious transactions.

This is why although pretty much everything is digitalized, it is safer to have some cash in hand. Having the physical currency of the local country you’re visiting serves as a backup just in case your debit or credit card decides not to cooperate with you. In some cases, street vendors only accept payments through cash, not cards.

A quick tip is that you most definitely don’t want to exchange money with random people at the airport. To avoid airport scams such as counterfeit money, it would be advisable to get this done beforehand. Plus, it saves you the hassle of looking for an ATM in a country you’re unfamiliar with.

Pack the essentials 

Time to get down to business! Before you toss around everything you have in your wardrobe, it’s probably a good idea to make a list first. Seeing that the stateroom storage space is limited, especially if you’re sharing, it would be beneficial to pack light. You could bring a few versatile pieces of clothing to mix and match for maximum style and minimal packing.

Swimsuits are a must! What is a cruise ship holiday without making a splash at the pool? However, be mindful not to pack almost nothing but swimsuits. You still need to wear smart casual clothes at restaurants and other facilities.

Speaking of looking smart casual, iron won’t make it onboard, but you could instead use the top-notch laundry services onboard. A bottle of anti-wrinkle spray will be your best friend for a quick fix. Apart from that, alcohol is also prohibited. But some essentials that you should have in your stateroom are the travel-sized version of your favorite skincare products and medication like your usual prescriptions and motion sickness patches. Plus, you can go wrong with a Polaroid camera.

Familiarize yourself with the cruise ship

Do a quick search on your cruise line and package to know about all the benefits and services you can access. Additionally, if you’re looking for extra information, you could join a roll call through Cruiseline.com or the Shipmate app. Roll calls act as a forum for passengers on a specific cruise to clear doubts or even just make some friends. So, if you’re feeling a little lost about the trip, there is a board of fellow passengers to give you a hand.

Plan your itinerary

From water sports activities to formal nights, the itinerary for a day on the cruise can be jam-packed. Planning your activities ahead will reduce the chaos of everyone in the group throwing their ideas into the mix that morning; you can then use that time to explore the ship rather than deciding what to do. You could schedule time for both group and individual activities to create a balance. If you’re considering taking your kids on a Disney cruise, you can check out BE Family Travel to know all the small intricacies involved in planning.

However, plan some relaxation time as well because you don’t want to burn out while on vacation; the irony! Instead, make time to lounge on the deck and sunbathe a little under the warm summer sun. But of course, don’t forget to put on Cetaphil sunscreen before settling down on the beach chair. There is a lot to do on a cruise; taking some time out of your day to pick out which activity you want to try out and which event you want to skip goes a long way.

Get ready for your shore excursions

It is best to look up popular tourist attractions and spots to get good local food. There are port guides onboard that you can browse through to get a peek into what your next shore excursion will look like. This way, you can make a stop at all the picturesque spots and get a panoramic shot of the amazing view with your Xiaomi phone. Port guides give great insights for you to get a holistic local cultural experience.

All in all, going on a cruise ship requires some form of planning, as with other types of vacations. A well-planned trip can be very rewarding when you realize that you have had the best cruise experience ever. But at the end of the day, it is important to go with the flow and enjoy the spontaneity to have a fun-filled holiday.