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Pre-Cruise Planning Checklist

Pre-Cruise Planning Checklist (Photo: areebarbar/Shutterstock)
Pre-Cruise Planning Checklist (Photo: areebarbar/Shutterstock)

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Updated January 8, 2020

We've all heard the horror stories of people who show up for their cruise, only to realize they don't have the right passport or visa. Perhaps we've been guilty of putting off travel research, only to find out that the tour guide we want is booked up or a shore excursion sold out. Or -- and who hasn't done this? -- we're staying up until 3 a.m. the night before our trip, trying to do last-minute packing and other preparation.

A little planning goes a long way toward a smooth sailing. To keep you on track -- and keep important tasks from falling through the cracks -- click on (and print out) this and refer to it from the time you book your cruise to the night before you set sail. We realize that not every line item will be applicable to your trip and -- depending on when you book and your planning personality -- you might be checking off tasks a little earlier or later.

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Popular on Cruise Critic

What to Pack for a Cruise: A Beginner's Guide
There once was a not-so-savvy seafarer who didn't feel right unless she took two steamer trunks crammed with outfits on every cruise. This, she learned, was not a good idea. Besides incurring the wrath of her male traveling companion, who pointed out that he would have to wrestle with excess baggage through airport terminals and beyond, she quickly tired of cramming her belongings into tiny closets. The now savvy seafarer follows this packing rule: Thou shalt put into one's suitcase only that which will fit neatly in the allocated cabin storage space. Following that advice is getting easier because, for the most part, cruising has become a more casual vacation with relaxed dress codes. Plus, with airlines charging to check bags, it's just plain economical to pack light. To do so, you need to have a good sense of what you’re going to wear on a cruise so you don't pack your entire closet. If you're wondering what to bring on your next cruise, here are our guidelines for what you'll need to pack.
Sneaking Alcohol on a Cruise: 5 Reasons You Should Never Try It
Sneaking alcohol on a cruise has always been a popular pastime for those who are willing to break the rules to avoid paying for drinks onboard. Mainstream cruise lines prohibit passengers from bringing their own liquor, beer and other alcohol (with the exception of wine or Champagne) on ships. Why spend more money than you have to, when you can try to pull a fast one on security staff? While the worst that likely will happen is a trip to the naughty room and having your prized bottle of Caribbean rum confiscated, we can think of five reasons why you shouldn't sneak alcohol on a cruise. Don't worry, rule-breakers: You can still enjoy a carefree vacation by cutting in line at the buffet and hogging as many deck chairs as your heart desires.
13 Cruise Fees That Might Take You By Surprise
Like any vacation, cruising can come with good and bad surprises. Finding out your favorite specialty restaurant is bargain-priced for lunch or that spa treatments are discounted on port days might make you feel like you've discovered buried treasure. On the flipside, realizing you have to pay a $15 corkage fee to drink the wine you brought onboard or that the room service you ordered is saddled with a surcharge can be a real letdown. Despite the "all inclusive" lingo commonly used to describe cruises, all lines have "hidden" cruise fees. Additionally, each cruise line has its own policy when it comes to tipping, room service and more. Ordering bacon and eggs from your cabin might be free on one cruise line, but cost you on another. If you're under the impression something is included, having to pay can put a damper on your worry-free vacation mood and potentially leave your budget in a bind. So how do you prepare for fees that aren't as obvious? Here are 13 cruise fees that might take you by surprise.

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