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LisaP 06-11-2011 10:45 PM

How do you prepare in the weeks prior to your cruise?
As you can see by the timestamp, I am up rather late tonight. The main reason: I'm in the last stages of cruise preparation, which for me is the creation of a booklet that includes our itinerary, ports of call (including embarkation port), shore excursions, ship history, and copies of important documents (such as insurance papers). I organize these by chapters in a three-fastener folder, with dividers separating each. One tab per port, and one tab each for the other categories.

Our cruise leaves in a month, and I have been so busy that I haven't started this until today! Fortunately, we've been on this ship and itinerary before (several times for the itinerary), so there's not a whole lot of new research. And, as I've made this booklet for every one of my cruises since 2003, the templates are already made.

So... my big pre-cruise plan is the creation of this folder. What are some of the ways you prepare as your cruise approaches?

f-mattox 06-11-2011 11:22 PM

I do pretty much the same thing, Lisa; I just don't go the extra step of organizing all the papersork in a 3-ring binder. Everything goes into a file folder, maybe two for a cruise with lots of ports, with the things I know for sure that I'll need on top--boarding passes, shuttle confirmations etc. and the rest more-or-less organized into the order I think I might need it. This goes into a soft-sided leather briefcase with Passports, I.D.'s, cash and other valuables and dosen't leave my hand (except for security) until I'm face-to-face with the cabin safe.

My big thing is packing. I spread out EVERYTHING I plan to take on a big folding table in a spare room about 3 weeks ahead; then I spend the 3 weeks adding and subtracting items, some things numerous times . . . .refining . . . .refining . . . .until the day before, when I actually put it all in one suitcase and a garment bag. And after 35+ years of cruising, I still overpack; but I'm getting better.

janfred 06-12-2011 04:08 AM

We do some of the same things. The organizing of all the paperwork is what my husband likes to do. We use a document folder to take with us. I love to purchace DK eyewitness travel books on the ports we are going to and read everything about that place. I do google images and look at all the pictures and than google articles too. I want to know everything about the places we will be seeing. What would we do if we couldn't google !!! I have learn so much from googling. Planning is also a big part of the fun and excitement of going on a cruise, don't you think? :0)

f-mattox 06-12-2011 11:21 AM

Planning is also a big part of the fun and excitement of going on a cruise, don't you think? :0)

For me, planning and anticipation is 50% of it :)

LisaP 06-12-2011 11:32 AM

Yes, this is a very exciting time. All the necessary work is done -- air arrangements, passport renewal (in our case, this year) -- allowing us to concentrate on the cruise. Just looking over the deck plans is exciting... I can already imagine myself going from deck to deck, walking along the promenade, and stopping by the lido to have HAL's dreamy bread pudding with vanilla sauce.

Janfred, I love the research part, also. I even research what we'll be seeing on shore excursions, to make the most out of it!

peter l 06-12-2011 01:05 PM

Hi all. We do most of what everyone has listed here. I am constantly on this site looking for past cruisers info on various islands and companies that have been used with success so that I don't have to do all the heavy lifting. As soon as we have decided to book a cruise the work begins and we start a folder and add lots of things along the way. Where to stay for 1 or 2 days prior to our cruise..Searching out the most cost effective insurance for our trips is very important to us as well. Researching a new island is one of the first things we do and look at where we dock and figure out what this new island will hold for us to see and do. Getting to know ahead of time, if we are on a new ship to us, how to get around and what the ship has to offer helps with making the first day or so lots easier. I agree, preparing after you have made that reservation is sooooo much fun and keeps the feeling of going on a cruise right up there. Oh, I haven't made a reservation for our next cruise YET... I need to start thinking about where and on what line we want to use this next time..I think it will be back on RCL as we have both remarked that we miss them.


LisaP 06-12-2011 01:14 PM


Getting to know ahead of time, if we are on a new ship to us, how to get around and what the ship has to offer helps with making the first day or so lots easier.
I agree. One of the sections of my booklet contains deck plans. And, as I love the history of ships, I might also bring along (if it exists) a copy of a prior deck plan to make comparisons. I'll be doing this for our upcoming cruise, as there have been some changes since we last sailed this ship.

Allow me to share a funny story related to this little quirk of mine. Prior to sailing SS Norway in 2001, I made sure to have deck plans of the ship when she was SS France. The first day of the cruise, a sea day, I wandered the ship with it, noting what was there that hadn't been in the past, and vice versa. Anyway, a couple came up to me, saying, "Oh, good! She's got a map!" Before I could respond, they were looking at it. The looks on their faces were priceless... not only did we happen to be in an area that had undergone significant changes, my "map" was in French!

penny3333 06-13-2011 08:40 AM

Wow, y'all are so well organized! I have a manilla envelope that I keep all the documents in and the passports. I really don't scope out the ship as that is my first thing I like to do when I board. I love checking out every deck to find my places to spend time. I take my camera with me and snap away. However, before I leave, I start packing about 6 weeks in advance. I make sure I have my overnight bag complete, plus the basic necessities in my large suitcase. Then I decide what clothes I want to take. Make sure they're all clean and I can fit into them:) I've usually booked my excursions unless it's an island I've been to many times, then I'll decide what beach or snorkel trip I'm going to take. Some of them, I just snorkel from the shore. I do make sure I have film for my 35mm and an extra chip for the digital, plus plenty of batteries. I guess I'm going to have to get better organized!

f-mattox 06-13-2011 10:35 AM

Penny, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who still has a 35mm camera; I bought a big supply of film just before I went digital--but when that's gone, I'm done.

penny3333 06-13-2011 12:18 PM

I just can't see to focus well enough on the digital unless I have my reading glasses on. If I look through the view finder, it's better, but the screen-forget it. That's why I stick to my 35mm, I know I'm going to get the shot I'm aiming for:)

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