The Ultimate Planning Guide for your Cruise

If there is one mode of travel transport that I am most familiar with it is cruising! The ease of hoping on a ship and being able to travel around both the Caribbean and the Mediterranean makes cruising one of my favorite (and easiest) ways to see the world!

The ease of having your meals, lodging, and mode of transportation all wrapped into one price and place is perfect for people (like me) who don’t want the stress of trying to plan out (and pay for) everything individually.  However, planning a cruise can come with it’s own stress especially when you have never had to do it before.

Read below to see all my tips and tricks for planning your next cruise!


When to Go

Cruises run year round so whether you are wanting a winter getaway or a way to spend summer vacation with you family there will always be some kind of boat running.  However when planning your timeline make sure you’re checking the weather for those areas during the time of year you wish to go (because who wants to cruise the Caribbean during the rainy season).  Some locations also only host cruises during certain times of year.  For instance, cruises to Antarctica only happen during the northern hemispheres winter while cruises to Alaska are only available during the summer time.

Picking a Cruise

If I am being honest (and I usually try to be) picking your cruise line and where you would like to go is going to be the most difficult part of your planning.  When looking at cruises have in mind what experience you want to get out of your boat.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you want something family friendly with experiences shaped for parents and kids or something relaxing and more adults-only?
  • Do you want to spend time overnight at a location?
  • How long do you want to be gone?
  • Do you want to be on the ocean or a river?
  • What excursions are you wanting to be available at each port?
  • What activities do you want to be available on board?


This piece of advice comes from personal experience so LISTEN UP  – before leaving for your cruise make sure to check the currency used in each port.  Many in the Caribbean and middle america accept the US dollar but some (like Cuba) do not and do not accept American credit cards.  Know what the necessary currency of each country is and if the US dollar is accepted withdraw the cash beforehand in case the ATM on board does not work.  Also make sure to call your bank and credit card companies before your trip so they know you will be out of the country and won’t shut off your card.

Food and Drinks

Food and drink can be one of the hidden costs of a cruise ship.  For the most part food is taken care of on the ship but things like candy or desserts at the stores on board are not included.  Drinks other than water and juice on board are not included and are what will get you in hidden charges.  Some cruises offer special rates where you can pay extra up front and not have to pay for drinks while on board (up to a certain limit) but if you don’t plan on drinking large amounts of soda or alcohol then you might be spending more upfront than you would on board.

Choosing your Stateroom

Once you haven chosen your cruise line and trip you get to choose what kind of room, view, location on board, etc. you would like your stateroom to be.  Some ships give you multiple options from large balcony suites to rooms with a porthole to smaller interior rooms while others (usually river cruises which use smaller boats) have just a couple choices ranging from a balcony room to a standard state room with a nice picture window.  Location of the room is also something to consider.  If the ship is large you may want to choose a room close to places you will be spending most of your time (like a room right below the pool level) or if (like me) you get seasick avoid a room at the back of the boat where the most rocking occurs and go for one in the middle.

Packing Up

Packing can be as easy of complicated as you want it to be! There are number of cruise packing lists if you search for them.  For the most part I recommend pack what is comfortable.  Majority of your time will be spent touring a new place or laying out by the pool and both activities do not require a ball gown!  Check with your cruise to see what the requirements are for dinner.  Come (like Carnival) have formal dinner nights where items like jeans and shorts are not allowed.  Also when packing make sure to bring your passport or birth certificate.  You will need one of those identification items to board your ship.