Cruise Travel Planner

8 Things to Know About Planning a Cruise Vacation (Cruise Travel Planner)

If you’re planning to go on a cruise, you may be wondering where to start. Planning a cruise is quite different from planning a resort vacation. There are several things to consider and coordinate, such as shore excursions and purchasing cruise extras like beverage packages. Also, packing for a cruise is more complicated than packing for a typical vacation. You’ll need to bring different types of outfits, from dinner attire to beachwear. I’ve been on over 25 cruises, I’m sharing essential things you need to know when planning a cruise and my cruise travel planner which you can download as a printable to help you stay organized and make your cruise planning experience easier.

Pre-Cruise and Post-Cruise Planning

There’s more to planning a cruise vacation than just booking your cruise. When you go on a cruise, you also need to plan the details of your pre-cruise and post-cruise hotel, transportation and flight. 

To avoid missing the ship due to flight delays, you should arrive at the port city a day earlier. This means you’ll need to book a hotel near the cruise port and a transfer from the hotel to the port on the embarkation day. 

It’s also best not to wing it when it comes to the transfer from your hotel to the cruise port. You’re better off pre-booking your car transfer, especially if you’re a big group. Trying to get an Uber or a cab to the cruise port from your hotel might be difficult because you will be competing with other cruise guests staying at your hotel who are also trying to get a ride to the cruise port. I suggest playing it safe and pre-booking your transportation. 

As for post-cruise planning, it’s best to avoid booking a flight on the same day. If you must, I suggest booking an evening flight in case of any unforeseen delays. This is especially important during hurricane season when cruises can be delayed due to bad weather. It’s safer to book a hotel for a night before flying out. 

Use the Pre-Cruise and Post-Cruise Travel Itinerary worksheets in my cruise travel planner to fill out your flight, transfer, and hotel details to make planning easier.

Cruise Travel Planner

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Cruise Budget Planning

Planning your cruise vacation budget can be challenging; some cruise charges will be incurred before boarding the cruise ship, and some will be incurred when you’re on the ship. 

Typically, when you book a cruise, you’re required to pay a small deposit to reserve your spot, and later, a few months before your departure date, you’ll have to pay the remaining amount. However, additional expenses, such as cruise shore excursions and cruise extras, like beverage packages, WIFI, and specialty dining, are not included in the cruise fare total. 

If you book cruise shore excursions online before boarding the ship, you’ll need to pay for them in advance. And if you book through independent tour sites, such as Viator, you can book it first and then pay later. You might also have onboard credit that you can apply toward cruise shore excursions and cruise extras. 

To keep track of your cruise budget, use my cruise budget tracker worksheets. It will show you what you’ve already paid for and your remaining balances. Be sure to check out my article, if you want to learn how to get free onboard credit on your cruise.

Cruise Travel Planner

Things to Do Before Your Cruise

There are many things to do before your cruise. To help you keep track of everything, I have a checklist included in my cruise travel planner that you can use as a guide. 

This checklist includes things to do before your cruise such as checking if your passport is not expired, booking shore excursions, arranging for hotel accommodations, and checking out travel advisories for the cruise ports you’ll be visiting. You can learn more about all the things you need to do before your cruise by reading this article.

Cruise Ports 

It’s a good idea to plan ahead for each cruise port you visit. Some ports are conveniently located within walking distance of popular tourist attractions, shops, and beaches, so you might not need to book a shore excursion. However, other ports may be in more remote areas, and if you’re planning to explore on your own, you’ll need to make some arrangements for tours or transportation. 

To help you stay organized, I have Cruise Port planning worksheets that you can use for each day of your cruise. These worksheets allow you to log in the tour that you’re taking, pick-up time, pick-up location, and the ship’s all-aboard time. There is also space for you to plan what to wear since some tourist attractions, like mosques and other places of worship, require conservative dress or even a head covering. You can also jot down your thoughts and impressions about each port so that you can refer to them when planning future cruises.

Cruise Travel Planner

Sea Days

Sea days are more relaxed and you can certainly wing it. However, for those of you who are planners, I’ve created a Sea Days worksheet that you can use to plan your day accordingly. 

You can note down the restaurants you want to visit, the activities you’d like to participate in, and even plan your outfit for dinner that evening. There’s even space for you to fill out the weather so you can plan your sea day accordingly!

Do Your Research

Leading up to your cruise, you should do some research by reading blogs and watching videos on what to do at the cruise ports. Talk to your friends who’ve been on the cruise. Then come up with a list of places to see, food to try, and things to buy. This way, you can maximize your cruise vacation and not just wing it. I’ve included a travel wishlist worksheet in the cruise planner for you to log down things you want to see and do during your cruise.

Keep Track of Passwords and Loyalty Numbers

As you plan your cruise, it’s important to keep track of your loyalty numbers for airlines, cruise lines, and hotels. This way, you can enjoy the perks and accrue points from your trip. Plus, you’ll probably be logging in to various travel websites during your cruise planning so you’ll need a way to keep track of all the new passwords and usernames. 

To make this process easier, I’ve included a travel website password tracker and loyalty program tracker in the cruise travel planner. This will help you stay organized when you’re planning your cruise.

Cruise Travel Planner

Packing Lists

Packing is the most difficult part of planning for a cruise. When it comes to packing for a cruise, you really need 3 different packing lists. 

First, you need a packing list for your carry-on bag or overnight bag. This bag will not be checked in, and you will carry it with you as you walk onto the ship. Since you will not receive your checked-in luggage until later in the afternoon, you need to pack your first day cruise essentials like medications, toys, books, bathing suits and change of clothes. You can read this article to learn more about what to pack in your carry-on bag

The second packing list you need is a toiletry and first aid kit packing list. This list will include all the necessary toiletry essentials, such as toothbrushes, nail cutters, and razors. Since you’ll be on a cruise ship with limited access to a pharmacy, it’s also a good idea to pack a first aid kit with prescription, over-the-counter, and anti-seasickness medicine. You can find out exactly what you need to pack in your cruise toiletry and first aid kit by reading my article. 

Finally, you’ll need a packing list for your checked-in luggage. This packing list will vary depending on your destination and when you’re traveling. For example, if you’re going on a Mediterranean cruise, what you pack for a summer Mediterranean cruise differs from packing for a spring Mediterranean cruise. I have included my Caribbean cruise packing list in the cruise travel planner, but you can also find my other cruise destination packing lists below:

Alaska cruise packing list

Caribbean cruise packing list

Mediterranean cruise packing list

Mexico cruise packing list

Bermuda Cruise Packing List

British Isle Cruise Packing List

Free Cruise Travel Journal

Get Your Cruise Travel Planner Printable

Download our Cruise Travel Planner! It’s a 25-page journal designed to keep you organized before and during your cruise. The cruise planner includes pre-cruise and post-cruise itineraries, a cruise port planner, a sea days planner, packing lists, a cruise budget tracker, and much more! Download your Cruise Travel Planner today! It’s only $4.99!

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