Cruise Tips6 Things You Should Do Before Every Cruise

6 Things You Should Do Before Every Cruise

In our never-ending effort to help you have the best cruise possible, here are 6 things you should do before every cruise.

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Check-In Online – Checking in online before your cruise and printing off your boarding documents will expedite the process from going from curbside to walking on the ship. The more you do online before your cruise (setting up onboard account, printing documents etc.) the quicker your check-in process will be.  This not only benefits you, but also those who are in line behind you waiting to board the ship.

Most cruise lines will allow you to check-in online after final payment up until 24-72 hours before your cruise.

Notify Credit Card Companies – Let your bank know that not only that will be you traveling, but to which countries you will be visiting on your cruise.  Your credit card may be rejected (for your protection) when making a purchase out of country if they are not notified.  As a security measure, some banks may also lock your account if you access it from a foreign port. Also, it is always best to use a credit card in foreign ports and not a debit card.

When you notify your credit card company about your trip, ask about travel perks that they may offer.  Some cards offer no foreign transaction fees, free or discounted medical insurance for your trip, and other travel perks that could benefit you.

Research Ports – Researching the ports that you will be visiting before your cruise can keep you from wasting time while on your cruise trying to choose which excursion to take.  While you do not have to know exactly what you will be doing in each port ahead of time, have several options in mind will help you make the most of your limited time in each port.

Turn Data Roaming Off – The moment before you step onboard the ship you should make sure that data roaming is turned off on your cell phone.  At a cost of $15+ per mb, the costly charges will add up quickly when connected to the ship’s cell phone towers.  Another way is to just put your phone in airplane mode.

If you have T-Mobile, you can set your phone to only connect to data when it is free.  Log into your account online, go to profile – blocking – and turn on “block charged data roaming”.  With this option, you do not have to turn data roaming off on your phone and since T-Mobile offers free data/texting in over 120 countries, you never have to worry about extra data charges.

Purchase Travel Insurance – Purchasing travel insurance before your cruise will cover you on your way to the cruise, during your cruise, and on your way home.  Consider using a 3rd party travel insurance company such as or to get the best coverage at a lower price.  All plans are not equal so be sure to see what is covered before purchasing a plan.

Save Small Bills – It is always good to have decent amount of small bills (especially $1 & $5) for tipping onboard.  Room service is not included in your daily gratuities and it is customary to tip $2-5 depending on the size of your order. Also, most cruisers will tip the porters at the port $1-2 per bag.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise Tips6 Things You Should Do Before Every Cruise


  1. All are excellent suggestions. I’ve done about the same number of cruises as Paul but spread over about 20 years.

    RE travel insurance. For the “typical” cruiser, it makes great sense to get insurance. A friend’s husband died a week before they were going on a cruise to celebrate their 45th anniversary and she got back all of her money. Met a guy sitting alone at a meal and found out his girfrind’s father was hospitalized before they were to go on a cruise–no insurance, so he went by himself not to lose ALL of their money.

    Anyone taking 7 cruises in a year can self-insure. As I said, not “typical”.

  2. I have taken 35 cruises over the past five and one half years. Had I bought cruise protection insurance, my premiums would have been approximately $4,725.

    So far I have not had to cancel a cruise. I could cancel more than four cruises based on my average cruise fees, and I would still be ahead by $725. The likelihood of needing to cancel four cruises is low.

    Cruise insurance is a bit like extended warranties. Most personal finance experts recommend against it. So, instead of buying cruise insurance or extended warranties on big purchases, take the amount of the insurance premium or extended warrant fee and put into an S&P 500 or similar index fund. In the long run, even if you have to cancel a cruise early on in your cruising life, you will come out ahead.

    Numerous academic studies support the finding that buying cruise insurance and extended warranties is not a good idea.

    • Great points, Paul. With the number of times you cruise every year you definitely would be shelling out a lot of money for insurance.

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