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How to make sure your first cruise is smooth sailing


Want to see several parts of the world, have fully prepared meals, and experience different entertainment each night, without having to research and plan out a detailed daily itinerary? A cruise might be the perfect way to get all of that and more.

How to make sure your first cruise is smooth sailing.

However, like any big trip, a cruise does require some planning and preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday. To help you get ready for your first cruise, here are 9 things that will make sure your trip is a dream vacation.

1. Get your travel documents in order

Paperwork and admin tasks are anything but the highlight of a vacation, but doing it before you leave will make your trip a whole lot easier. Research the destinations you’ll visit to know the documents needed to enter at each port, including your passport. And even if you’re visiting ports that don’t require a passport, you should keep it with you in the event you need to verify your identity or in case you need to book an unplanned flight back home.

2. Monitor travel advisories and updates

Another not-so-fun item on the to-do list that you’ll be happy you did in case something happens.

Check to see if there are any travel advisories issued for your destinations to make sure they’re safe to visit. And while you’re at it, register with the Government of Canada to get notifications about emergencies, natural disasters, or civil issues happening abroad, and any personal emergencies back home.

3. Get travel insurance

Even though cruises do (almost) all the planning for you, you never know what might come up. There could be a sudden illness before or during the cruise, or part of the trip could get cancelled or delayed. That’s why travel insurance is a no-brainer for any vacation.

With CAA’s trip cancellation and interruption insurance plans, you don't need to worry about anything that might delay your trip or unexpectedly return home before your vacation is over. CAA Travel Insurance includes a Cancel for Any Other Reason benefit, which gives you a refund of up to 50% - or up to 75% of the cost if you book the trip through CAA Travel if you purchase the insurance within 72 hours of booking your trip.

As an added bonus, CAA Members save up to 20%1 on their travel insurance policy.

4. Stock up on medication

You never want to run out of prescriptions while you’re abroad, so before leaving, get your prescriptions filled for the duration of your trip, plus a few extra days, in case your return flights are delayed. You should also chat with a travel medicine clinic to see what vaccines or immunizations they recommend for your destinations, along with any over-the-counter and preventative medications to pack in your travel health kit.

5. Get local cash

While cruise ships are filled with plenty of great dining and activities, you’ll probably want to visit some local restaurants and shops at each port. Some of those businesses may not accept credit cards, so you should get some local cash for those destinations before the trip, so you don’t have to waste precious time seeking out ATMs or currency exchange services.

To make sure your bank or local currency exchange has the different currencies you need when you go to pick it up, call ahead and order the money ahead of time.

6. Pack smart

You might be tempted to pack your whole wardrobe for a cruise to be prepared for every stop and all the different activities on the ship. However, you should really try to pack as light as possible, as cabin space is limited.

A good rule to follow is to pack with comfort and versatility in mind, packing items you can wear in different scenarios. You should include swimwear, comfortable shoes, and some more formal attire for nice dinners or excursions. You should also pack remedies for motion or seasickness, and a new book or e-reader.

7. Prep a backpack for day trips

When you first arrive at the cruise on embarkation day, they’ll take your luggage and bring it to your cabin once it’s ready for you. But there will be some time where you’re without your bags, so you should have a backpack with what you might need. Pack a few essentials, including travel documents, sunscreen, deodorant, bandages, medication, chargers, a change of clothes, and any valuables you might not want to be apart from, so you have everything you might need before you have access to your luggage.

It’s good to pack this ahead of time to be confident you can fit these items into your backpack, and so you can quickly repack your bag for your day trips off the ship.

8. Get to know the ship

When you get to the ship, grab a map, attend orientation sessions, and explore the ship right away. Getting familiar with the locations of any restaurants, entertainment, activities, and of course, the buffets, will make it easier to feel comfortable on the trip. A cruise truly is a floating city, so knowing your way around makes the experience that much better.

9. Embrace the onboard activities

One of the biggest perks of a cruise is having access to so many different activities without having to make special plans or organizing tickets ahead of time. And as a first-time cruiser, it’s hard to really understand what your cruise has to offer.

There will be a variety of onboard activities, which could be anything from cooking workshops to fitness classes, and Broadway-style shows to go karting. Cruises are an incredibly unique opportunity to take in a wide variety of experiences, while also having the chance to relax in the sun. Plan to balance these events with time to rest and recharge to get the full cruise experience.

Every cruise is unique and offers the opportunity to have a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Taking a bit of time to follow these steps will make sure you’re prepared for everything they have to offer, so you can focus on soaking up this incredible experience. If you’re looking for help finding the right cruise for your travel goals, contact a CAA Travel Consultant to make trip-planning even easier. Bon voyage!


CAA Travel Insurance is provided by Orion Travel Insurance and underwritten by Echelon Insurance. Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions apply. Subject to change without notice. A Medical Questionnaire is required if you are 60 years of age and older. Quotes are valid for 30 days.

1. Applies to CAA Members in good standing (CAA Membership dues paid in full by Membership expiry date). Up to twenty percent (20%) savings applies to the total premium excluding applicable taxes. Minimum premium applies. Subject to change without notice. Excludes Visitors to Canada Insurance. CAA Everyday, Classic®, and Plus® Members save 10%. CAA Premier® Members save 20% at CAA Stores or by calling 1-800-267-8713. CAA Premier Members save 10% and earn 10% in CAA Dollars® when booking online.

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