So you’ve taken the plunge and finally booked a cruise, what should you do next?

Check-in Online


Sailing into Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

The majority of cruise lines (actually every single one I’ve been on) need some passenger information before you can go on board. You log onto their website using your booking reference ID and pop in your name, address, passport details and sometimes things like travel insurance information etc. You then usually print off a form (sometimes called a set sail pass) that you present to the check-in staff on arrival at the port. Remembering to print this off and take it with you saves a lot of time and hassle as it means your details can be found on the system instantly and you can get checked in and start enjoying your cruise holiday faster!

Research Ports of Call

Before I go embark upon my cruise I always do a good amount of research on the things to do and see in each port of call. This helps me to decide just what places I’d like to visit and I can plan the best way to do this. I usually have a look at the shore excursions offered by the cruise line and see what types of places they are visiting.

I can count on one hand the number of organised shore excursions I’ve taken part in despite having been on fifteen cruises. I find them to be generally very overpriced and I prefer to have more freedom whilst I’m exploring ashore. They’re great for some people though and if you think you might want to take a shore excursion then I recommend having a thorough look at the different options and booking one before you get on board. They often fill up quickly and if you leave it until you get on board to book then you might just find the one you want is full. Plus, who wants to spend their holiday time picking and booking excursions when you could be relaxing instead?!


I researched how to get to beautiful Positano from Naples, Italy

If, like me, you decide not to take an organised shore excursion it helps to know where exactly you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Look at public transport timetables, get prices, find out where to buy tickets and everything else in advance to save you time and energy when you get there.

 Research Cruise Extras

Many cruise ships offer drinks or dining packages that you can book in advance of your cruise and save yourself some cash.

A great example of this is MSC Cruises drinks packages. They offer a number of different packages that you can book before you board (and apparently if you book before you board you don’t have to pay the additional service charge!). These include unlimited soft drinks, children’s packages and a couple of different adults drinks packages.

For my upcoming cruise with MSC I decided to book the Allegrissimo Package which includes a selection of wines, cocktails, spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, coffees and more. Perfect for me!

Check if You Need A Visa

Often if you’re cruising to some exotic and fabulous locations then you will need a visa if you wish to go ashore. Always check this information out for yourself as it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation.

Packing Planning

Make sure you check the dress code of your cruise ship and ensure you have the corresponding clothing. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to turn up with only casual clothing to find your cruise ship had several formal nights on board? Make sure you’re not that person! Also, check out my handy list of what to pack for a cruise while you’re here.