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The Ultimate Cruise Ship Vacation Is Yours For The Taking

Mar 15, 2008
When you think about preparing for your cruise vacation you probably picture packing a swimsuit and camera. However, there are a few things that often get overlooked that can make a huge difference.

If your trip takes you outside the country, make sure your passport is valid. As soon as you receive your cruise documents make your reservations for on-board amenities and shore excursions.

Assess your available credit and make sure you have plenty of cash. These small steps can greatly enhance your cruise enjoyment.

Depending on where your cruise takes you, it is a good idea to get or renew your passport. Recent changes in US law mean that a passport is required to reenter the States from Mexico and the Caribbean.

If you already have a passport, check the expiration date and make sure it has blank pages. You don't want to be on the high seas when you realize that it expired a month before, or worse during your trip. If you don't have one, get one as soon as possible and pay the extra money to expedite the process.

Once you receive your new passport, make several copies of it. If it is lost or stolen you will be very glad you took this step. Give one copy to your emergency contact back in the states and put one in your suitcase.

As soon as you get your cruise documents read through them carefully. You will find information about shore leave, amenities on board ship and other things that make your trip the best it can be. Most cruise lines will allow you to make these kinds of reservations on line.

While you could wait until you board your cruise ship to do this, you'll find yourself waiting in a long line instead of lounging by the pool. You can walk on the ship and begin enjoying yourself secure in the knowledge that your massage is not booked during dinner or a port of call.

You may have booked your cruise in celebration of a birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, or other milestone. Most cruise lines have special packages and treats to enhance your festivities.

It is important to give the cruise staff sufficient time to make arrangements such as having champagne and hors d'eouvres in your room or a birthday cake at dinner. Waiting until you board ship is likely to result in disappointment.

Several months before your cruise, assess the amount of credit available on your credit cards. This gives you time to move things around, open another card, or pay down your balance.

Your cruise line will probably place a hold on your credit card for incidentals when you check in. This hold could range from $50-200 per day. It is a great idea to call ahead and find out your cruise line's policy. This is especially important if you plan to stay in a hotel or rent a car since they will place holds on your credit card as well.

Even though your charges are adjusted to reflect the money you actually spent, it can take several days for it all to catch up. You don't want to find out that your card is maxed during your trip because of holds.

It is also a good idea to get enough cash for your trip. While you'll use your credit card a lot, cash is still important. Because of the high rate of fraud, many merchants will not take traveler's checks.

It is also unlikely that your cruise ship will cash your personal check. ATMs are usually available on ship, but sometimes they run out of cash and you will probably pay a high fee.

On shore, some smaller merchants and street vendors will not take credit cards and ATMs might not be conveniently located. Make sure you bring smaller bills so that you can tip your cruise line staff. Bringing cash ensures that you are able to fully enjoy your trip with little inconvenience.

You don't need to have a Type A personality to get organized for your cruise vacation. A little preparation will go a long way toward ensuring that you are prepared and ready to fully enjoy every minute of your vacation.

Check your passport, make your reservations, and assess your credit and cash situation. These small but crucial steps will pay off in cruise enjoyment. Of course, pack your swimsuit and camera and enjoy your trip!
About the Author
Zark Barker runs Cruise Ship Vacation Site
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