Travel Smarter: Pre-Cruise Planning Tips

You’ve booked your ship and picked your stateroom. AAA Travel Counselors offer up their cruise planning tips.

Shore excursions are one of the first things you’ll want to consider.

Photo: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

So you’ve booked a cruise and now you can’t wait to go. A little planning can go a long way toward smooth sailing, so we sat down with three AAA Travel Counselors—Tara Moncur of Draper, Utah; Bernadette Orosco of Turlock, California; and Jeff Hrdlicka of Sparks, Nevada—to talk about preparation and cruise planning tips.

Vacation Now: Do I need a passport to cruise?
Bernadette: There are very few instances when a passport is not required to cruise, and most cruise operators require passports. I always recommend passports for any cruise, because if an emergency arises while out of the country, you will not be able to return to the U.S. without a valid passport.

VN: What is the best way to book shore excursions?
Jeff: Always book your shore tours directly through the cruise line. If you are on a tour arranged by the cruise line and it’s running late, the ship will wait for you. However, if you are running late and you’re on a tour not arranged by the cruise line, the ship may leave without you.

Bernadette: One of our cruise planning tips is to pre-book shore excursions, since they tend to sell out quickly. Booking before you set sail also prevents you from having to wait in line at the shore excursion desk while enjoying your cruise.

VN: Is there a restriction on the amount of luggage I can bring?
Tara: Check with you AAA Travel Counselor about whether your cruise line has a luggage policy. All cruise ships have laundry facilities on board as well, so you can pack less and plan to wash your clothes as needed.

Jeff: Most cruise lines do not set luggage limits. If you’re driving to your port of embarkation, you can take as much luggage as you want. Travelers who fly will have to abide by the airline’s luggage restrictions. Staterooms do not have a lot of storage capacity, so I always encourage clients to pack smart either way.

Novice cruiser? Not a problem. These cruising tips for the savvy cruiser will bring your know-how up to speed.

Browse our selection of cruises to destinations worldwide and book online. Or call 877-396-7159 to speak to a AAA Travel Counselor.

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Janice Yip-Hudson, AAA Travel Counselor, Daly City, Calif.

Today, people's lives are so busy. We're thinking three days ahead just to get through our to-do lists. I love helping my clients plan vacations where they have nothing to do but relax; where time stands still, and you're just on vacation.

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