Here Are My Top 5 Tips To Make Traveling To Your Cruise Less Stressful:
- Plan to Arrive a Day Early. It may sound excessive, but my recommendation is always to get to the port city a day ahead of time. Take in consideration the amount of families who are also traveling to warm weather destinations over winter break. Or maybe there is an unforeseen snow storm on embarkation day. What if the airlines misplace your luggage? These are all not catastrophic things, but may need extra time to resolve before boarding a ship. So right after you decide on the perfect cruise for your luxurious family vacation, make your travel arrangements to arrive in the port city a day ahead of time and then start thinking hotels.
- Sleep Close to the Ship. There are so many advantages to this. One of the best ways to relax on vacation is to not have to think about anything on vacation. Choose a hotel close to the port and you can start relaxing right away. Sleep in a bit or enjoy a local breakfast. Then whenever you are ready, it's just a quick taxi or shuttle ride over to the ship. On a typical cruise itinerary that leaves at 4:00 or 5:00 PM, you are usually allowed on the ship around noon.
- Luggage Tags. Often overlooked, make sure to have your luggage tags on your suitcases well before you arrive at the cruise port. Depending on the cruise line, you will either have your luggage tags sent to you or you print them out ahead of time. (If you print them, check out my favorite cruise luggage tag holders for extra reinforcement.) Luggage tags are critical to ensure your luggage makes it to your cabin quickly and safely. Once your family arrives at the port, it can get chaotic and you don’t want to take extra time to be fumbling with your luggage tags right before the porter rolls your suitcases away.
- Always the Most Recommended Tip for Cruisers: Don’t leave home without your boarding documentation, passport and photo identification. Check, double check, and triple check the cruise website for what to bring for arrival. Without the proper documentation, you won’t be able to board the ship. NEW Passport Information: At least three months before you cruise, take a look to see that everyone’s passport hasn’t expired or isn’t expiring less than 6 months after the sail date. More and more it is suggested that passports don’t expire within that time frame (sounds neurotic, but the thought is in case of an emergency that may prevent you from leaving when planned.) Even though often not mandatory, it’s a good thing to keep in mind. Additionally, beginning 2016, the extra page inserts in your passport won't be sold any longer, so if you are a frequent International traveler, you might need to consider a renewal.
- Enjoy! That feeling of leaving the check-in area and paperwork behind, then walking up the gangway towards the welcoming ship knowing that your luxurious and relaxing family vacation is really about to begin.