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Cruise Tips & Tricks: Cruise Packing Guide, FAQ & More

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What's Included on a Cruise?

Health & Safety Onboard

Popular Cruise Destinations

First Time Cruise Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

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What's Included on a Cruise?

With included amenities like meals, activities, and room service, cruises can be much more cost-effective than land-based vacations. Plus, you can visit multiple destinations without extra transportation costs while only unpacking once.

Here’s what you'll typically find included in the rate of your cruise. Please note this varies by cruise line:

Included in Rate
Not Included in Rate

Onboard accommodations

Standard meals

Most non-alcoholic drinks (including coffee and tea)

Room service

Onboard activities (pools, waterslides, rock-climbing, and more

Entertainment (onboard stage shows, comedy acts, trivia and more

Children’s activities and clubs

Fitness center

Specialty coffees, sodas and alcoholic beverages

Meals in alternative restaurants

Organized shore excursions

Spa or salon services

Special exercise classes

Casino gaming


Health & Safety Onboard

Cruise lines have been taking extra precautions to ensure your cruise experience is both enjoyable and safe. For information on vaccine requirements, testing, and refund policies implemented by each cruise line, check out our COVID-19 Cruise Guide for Travel.

There is also this handy search tool that can help you find out more about regulations for destinations, and safety and health guidelines.

Popular Cruise Destinations

Where do cruises go? All over the world! Check out some of the most popular cruise travel destinations below:

alaskan mountains


Alaska is one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations, famed for relentlessly beautiful scenery stretching along its icy coastline.

Learn more about Alaska Cruises

people snorkeling in water in bahamas


Experience the total relaxation of a Bahamas cruise, with 700 idyllic islands famed for their stunning beaches and translucent seas.

Learn more about Bahamas Cruises

bright blue waters


Discover the pink sands and and calming beaches of Bermuda on a cruise, the easiest way to discover this history-filled paradise.

Learn more about Bermuda Cruises

pile of orange leaves

Canada & New England

Cruise to Canada’s east coast and down into New England past old-world towns and ultra-modern cities.

Learn more about Canada & New England Cruises

beach with blue waters and palm trees


Caribbean cruises are some of the most popular cruise vacations, and are the easiest way to see several islands in one trip for the best value.

Learn more about Caribbean Cruises

cityscape in Europe with a bridge and water


In just one European cruise, you can experience Nordic hospitality in Oslo, stroll around the Colosseum in Rome or take a shore excursion to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Learn more about European Cruises

palm trees and sands at beach


A Hawaii cruise can take you to the shores of some of the world’s most lush and pristine islands including the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai.

Learn more about Hawaiian Cruises

Famous love arches in Mexico over the water


Mexico cruises offer a sunny getaway year-round, with August and September offering some of the best Mexico cruise deals.

Learn more about Mexico Cruises

First Time Cruise Tips

1. Best Time to Book a Cruise: Wave Season (January–March) is when you'll score the year's top deals, including free perks (like upgrades & onboard credits) and discounted fares.


2. Avoid the Queasy Stomach: Sensitive to motion sickness? Choose a cabin on a lower deck, mid-ship.


3. Arrive Early at the Cruise Port: Plan to arrive at least 2 hours before your ship's departure time. If possible, fly to your embarkation city the night before in case of flight delays.


4. Get Onboard Spa Specials: If you're a spa seeker, look for specials on days the ship is in port. You can save up to 25% - a great way to kick-start a vacation!


5. Ask for a Wakeup Call: Most cabins don't have alarm clocks, so plan to bring your own, or request a phone wakeup call.


6. Celebrate Special Occasions: Celebrating a birthday or anniversary onboard? Preorder flowers, cakes, champagne, and more on your cruise line's website.


7. Check the Daily Onboard Schedule: The ship newsletter is delivered nightly to your cabin. Here, you'll find the next day's entertainment schedule, special events, dinner themes and attire, and other helpful tips.


8. Pose for Pictures: If you don't like lugging your camera around, don't worry! A professional photographer will be onboard to capture special moments, and the photos will be available for purchase at the end of your cruise.


9. Keep Essentials with You on Embarkation Day: When you hand over your luggage at the dock, it may take a few hours to be delivered to your cabin. Make sure you keep essentials like prescriptions, swimsuits, and sunscreen with you in a separate tote bag or backpack.


10. Plan Ahead: Popular shore excursions, spa treatments, and tables at specialty restaurants tend to fill up fast, so check your cruise line’s website to see how far in advance these can be booked.


Frequently Asked Questions

Most cruise lines offer special programs, facilities, and activities based on age, and can often travel at a substantially reduced rate. Keep in mind that some ships also have better facilities than others. Check out this Viewfinder blog to learn more about family-friendly cruises.
Yes! More cruise lines are offering single-occupancy staterooms with a single bed, making it easier than ever to travel solo – without the extra costs!
Each cruise line has specific cancellation and booking policies. Consult the cruise line’s cancellation and rules pages which can be found here.

- Documents: Be sure to pack your passport and travel documents.

- Electronics: For items requiring electrical-outlet usage, such as hair dryers or cell phone chargers, note that most cabins are equipped with U.S. standard 110-volt outlets. Some cabins are also equipped with European standard 220-volt outlets.

- Clothing: Pack with both your destination's climate and the cruise ship's dress code in mind. For Alaska, bring protective rain coverings. For the Caribbean, bring plenty of light, airy clothing and sunscreen. Be sure to pack some formal attire if your ship has formal nights. If you forget anything, that's OK; most ships have casual dining venues, and some ships also have formal wear rental shops.

- Forbidden Items: The following items are not permitted onboard: firearms, weapons of any kind, irons, candles, explosives, or animals (except service animals with permission from the cruise line).

Today’s cruise ships are built to minimize the rolling feeling that passengers may experience due to waves or wind. However, if you experience motion sickness, choose a stateroom towards the center of the ship where ship movement is less pronounced. A balcony stateroom will also allow you to access fresh air when needed. Check out this Viewfinder blog to learn the five common myths about cruising.
Travel insurance can give you and your loved ones peace of mind that in the case of an emergency you'll be protected. Whether you're looking for medical coverage in a foreign country or want to protect your belongings, there is an insurance policy that is right for you. If you currently have travel insurance, be sure to understand what is covered and what limitations or exclusions may be listed.

- Internet: Most ships have Internet access (for a fee), including Internet cafés, access from your cabin, or ship-wide wireless. Remember, Internet access at sea is not going to be as fast or reliable as land connections, and therefore may not be available at all times. For a faster connection, use the Internet at night or in port when other guests are ashore. For more details, check out the ship features on your cruise line's website.

- Telephone: Most cabins offer telephones. If your cabin does not have a telephone (which is rare), the ship's radio operator can connect you to a mainland number in case of an emergency. Please keep in mind that making a ship-to-shore telephone call can be quite expensive, and it may be worth waiting to use a pay phone at the next port stop.

- Mobile Devices: Some cruise lines offer onboard service, but reception may depend on your phone carrier. Watch out for expensive additional roaming or usage fees your cell phone provider may issue. To be safe, keep your cell phone off, or on airplane mode, to prevent charges from incoming text messages or roaming.

Laundry and dry-cleaning services are offered by most major cruise lines. Information about the service fees and procedures can be found in your cabin.
In general, smoking is usually prohibited in exterior public spaces as well as indoors. You can check with your Cruise Consultant, cruise line or your specific cruise ship about their smoking policy, as well as the location of any designated smoking areas.
In general, most cruise lines do not allow you to bring alcohol onboard. If you buy alcohol as a souvenir at the ports of call, your cruise line may store them for you until the end of your vacation.
While doing your online registration with the cruise line, they will provide you with information about shore excursions (including photos, video clips, excursion difficulty, duration, and cost). If the cruise line does not allow you to book an excursion online ahead of time, or if you choose not to, you can book onboard at the ship's shore excursion desk. Book early for the best selection, as some excursions sell out quickly.

Embarkation begins when you start to board the ship. You can usually board the ship 3–4 hours before departure. All passengers must be onboard at least 60–90 minutes prior to departure. Check the individual cruise line's policies for final boarding times, and required documentation to board.

Disembarkation can take 2–3 hours. Please allow plenty of time to disembark the ship, go through customs, and get to the airport in time for check-in. We suggest you schedule your return flight to depart a minimum of 6 hours after you're scheduled to arrive in port.

Tipping is a matter of individual preference. Most cruise lines include a tipping guideline in your stateroom. Some cruise lines include tipping/gratuities in the price. Other ship personnel can be tipped for special services at your discretion.