12 February 2010

So I booked now what?

Congratulations!  You are about to undertake the greatest vacation (at least in my opinion)...but you have a few more details to cover.
Now you need to see if your cruise line requires a passport/passport card.  Most lines will abide by the law which states, if you leave from a US port and come back to a US port you can sail with a driver's license and a birth certificate.  There are some exceptions but that is for Canada and since we are talking about 3,4, and 5 day Western/Eastern Caribbean that does not apply to us.  Your birth certificate must have the raised seal on it and I am telling you that your driver's license expiration date should not be anywhere near your sailing date or they will give you issues.  You can trust me on this one because it has happened to us.

Depending on how long it is until your sail date, you will start getting correspondence from the line.  I can tell you with confidence that all of the lines are moving to a paperless delivery of the documents that they will send just an FYI.

The line will first send you something via email to verify each passengers information, special requests, birthday/anniversary requests, shipboard account info and offer you shore excursions.

PORTS OF CALL--- The website will give you exact days and times of the ports of call so that you can study what things are in each port and plan accordingly.  Sometimes I book my own excursions and when I do I make sure to research beforehand. 

SHORE EXCURSIONS--I am a big believer in booking the excursions online if you are going through the line.  WHY?  Because the lines at the shore excursion desk are horrible and I avoid them like the plague.

SHIPBOARD ACCOUNT-- Remember that the ships are a cashless society.  It is marvelous because your room key is your credit card and your identification to get on and off the ship.  The cruise line will ask you if you would like to set up your account now.  I recommend you do it now.  On embarkation day, your objective is to get on the ship as soon as possible and you do not want to wait in a huge line once you get on the ship to activate this card...you can buy nothing without this card.  I don't recommend using a debit card because some banks hold out $250 like an insurance thing.  A major card is better, cash is not because the deposit is so large and you will have to go and settle the account on the last night and there will be lots of others that have to do this...avoid it and enjoy the time on the ship.  Keep this card safe at all times!  And consider having your children's charging privileges taken away.  You are responsible for all money spent on the cards.

LUGGAGE TAGS---Closer to sailing date, you will need to go to the website and print your luggage tags.  The crew folks will take your luggage from you as you enter the ship and will deliver is to your state room sometime that evening.  Always carry a change of clothes with you as you board because you may not get your luggage until AFTER dinner.  These luggage tags will tell the crew where to take your bags.  If you got a guaranteed cabin, you will need to fill in the cabin number before you hand over your bags.

DECK PLANS---  The website will also give you detailed deck plans...I like to study them so at least I have an idea of where things are.  Now, I do get turned around alot once I get there.  That is one reason I like Norwegian, they have fish on the floors that swim towards the bow (front of ship) so you can tell where you are.

As you start printing off the itinerary and the confirmations numbers and cruise tickets, you will be collecting a ton of stuff that will need to be kept up with.  I get me a folder with pockets and put everything in this (including pre cruise air confirmations and hotels).  That way it is all in one place and you don't forget anything.  Also in this folder is my documentation (birth certificates/passport). This folder is easy to pull out in an airport terminal, in the embarkation line and serves as a holder for the daily newspapers and scrapbook items that I wish to keep.