1) For the cruise lines, you must complete pre-registration on-line and print your boarding pass as they no longer mail documents, everything is completed on-line. You MUST have completed your on-line check in before you may print your boarding pass and your luggage tags. If you fail to complete the pre-registration you cannot print out your boarding pass and therefore cannot get on the ship.
For cruises from the US departing and returning to the same port, you will need either a passport or a CERTIFIED birth certificate and photo ID from the government (drivers license). Make sure you have your tickets and your identification on you, do not pack those items. I recommend each person carry a copy of the boarding pass in case one gets lost or misplaced.
New security rules require that all passengers sign in so they may be checked prior to the cruise for obvious reasons. Most cruise lines shut down their on-line registration a few days prior to the cruise. If you have not signed in and completed the boarding pass by now-DO IT NOW! You will run the risk of not being able to go on the cruise if you fail to complete the registration. Don't forget to also print out your luggage tags.
2) Go to www.usps.com to stop your mail for the time period you will not be home unless you make other arrangements. At that site you can set up the dates to stop your mail and another date to deliver the mail that has accumulated.
3) Stop your newspaper.
4) Turn off your hot water heaters. They will heat back up very quickly. No need to keep your water hot while you are gone.
5) If no one will be in your home, turn off your water. We have had two cases where broken water or heater lines have occurred while the person was on a cruise. You do not want to come home to that.
6) Check your thermostat and perhaps adjust the AC (or heat for our northern friends) as no one will be home (unless someone is home-then disregard a few of these items.)
7) Lay out all of the clothes that you plan to take with you, then put 1/3 of them back as you will not wear all of it. Trust me on this!! (this suggestion does not apply to clean underwear)
8) Make arrangements to take care of the dog, get rid of the cat.
9) If you are flying, check with the airline to see how many bags you can take as it continues to change. Make sure your luggage weighs no more than 50 lbs for each. Many airlines are now charging for each bag you check except for your carry on. No liquids over 3 oz to be carried on with you. If the liquids are more than 3 oz, put it in your checked luggage. Liquids carried on with you are to be placed in a zip lock bag and put in the basket with your shoes, phones and cameras. You can get charged excessively for amounts in excess of 50 lbs per bag.
10) If you are on the bus they usually ask that you to be frugal with your amount of luggage. If you are taking a bus the following information is for you. The cruise-connection.com web site answers the question: How many pieces of luggage am I permitted to bring? We request that passengers limit their luggage to one suitcase, one carry-on, and one hanging bag per person.
Just don’t over-do it. If the bus is full, luggage is a problem. If it is not full, there is usually plenty of room. I just returned from a trip with 29 persons and we completely filled the luggage area of our bus. Since we chartered the bus, it was OK.
11) Go to Wal-Mart an spend $12 on a large nylon carry-on bag. Fold it up and pack it in your luggage to use to carry your purchases back home. Remember, if you purchase alcohol to bring home, someone has to carry all of that extra stuff you buy, and it can be heavy.
12) Dress for comfort for the trip down and back. The fashion police will not care. You can style when on the ship.
13) If you purchase alcohol to bring home, do not place it outside your room with your luggage the last night. It will not be at the dock waiting for you the next morning with the rest of the luggage. (You can figure why I have to say something about this)
14) Do something to make your luggage look different. We have been using the brightly colored surveyors ribbon and tying it all over the handles. It keeps someone from picking up your luggage by mistake. It will not prevent theft or misplacement of your luggage.
15) Make sure you have receipts for your cruise items in case of a loss to help with insurance reporting. Take a picture of valuables for reference in case of loss.
16) Take your insurance information with you. If you purchased insurance, place the tracking numbers on your luggage. In case of emergency you will have the contact information with you. In case of an emergency, you will need the contact numbers located on the insurance information to provide the assistance you will require.
17) The second most important item. Make sure you tape your luggage tags to your luggage so that it will not come off. This is the only way the stewards will know where to deliver your luggage. If for some reason your luggage does not make it to your room, walk the halls to see if it was placed on another deck by mistake. If you do not find it, go to the Guest Relations desk and file a missing luggage report. If the tag is missing, they have a place for the mystery luggage. They will search for it during the night.
18) The most important item is this. According to the cruise directors, have a credit card and camera on your person when not on the ship. If you do not follow instructions well and the ship leaves without you-AS IT WILL- use the camera to take a picture of the ship leaving the dock without you, It is a magnificent sight. You may even see some of your friends, they will be the ones on the top deck of the departing ship laughing, pointing at you, and yelling unintelligible remarks. Use the credit card to get yourself home or to the next port.
19) Have a great time.