Getting ready for your Cruise

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When you do not need a passport


If you are a U.S. citizen and cruising out of the United States (meaning your cruise begins and ends in the United States), then you do not need a passport.  U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises (cruises that begin and end at the same port in the U.S.) will be able to enter or depart the country with proof of citizenship, such as a government-issued birth certificate and laminated government issued picture ID, denoting photo, name and date of birth.

A U.S. citizen under the age of 16 will be able to present either an original, notarized or certified copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad issues by DOS, or Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Royal Caribbean emphasizes that Baptismal papers and hospital certificates of birth are not acceptable. Voter registration cards or Social Security cards are not considered proof of citizenship.

You should check the passport requirements for any port you are visiting, as sometimes there can be a port that requires a passport to visit even if you do not need a passport to return to the United States.

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When you do need a passport


Many countries outside of North America do require a passport and visas are even required where they apply.  This includes countries in Europe, Asia, Central and South America.

All cruises to Cuba require a Passport book (no passport cards or other forms of I.D. will be accepted) valid for at least 6 months after the sailing date, for all guests including minors.

International sailings (cruises that begin outside the United States), U.S. citizens require a valid Passport and the corresponding visa required for entry and exit from the country.

For additional passport information, visit www.travel.state.gov.

Canada & Non-U.S. Citizens

Non-U.S. Citizens will need a valid passport and, in some cases, a visa. If you live in the U.S., you will also need the original copy of your Alien Registration Card (ARC or "Green Card") and any other documentation the countries on your itinerary require due to your alien status. 

All Canadian Landed Immigrants (inclusive of those who are citizens of the British Commonwealth countries) who reside in Canada must have valid passports and US visas. Also required is the original copy of your Permanent Resident Card (PR Card) formally the IMM 1000 or with respect to any country on the itinerary any other travel documentation required because of alien status. 

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Gather your documentation

A good starting point is to make certain you know exactly where everyone's passport, birth certificate and/or state issued identification is located.  Moreover, check expiration dates of these documents and verify that they will not be expiring anytime soon.  Keep in mind that some countries require passports not to expire within six months of visiting (such as Cuba). 

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Online check-in

At ninety days prior to your cruise, you can log into Cruise line web site and complete the online check in.  

The online check in will save you a lot of time at the pier, as well as provide you with the necessary paperwork to expedite your cruise boarding procedure.

You will need a copy of everyone's documentation (passport or birth certificate), travel plans and a credit card to store for incidental charges.

You do not need to do this immediately at 90 days prior to your sailing, but make sure you complete this at least 3 days prior to your sailing.

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Pre-cruise purchases

purchase drink packages, spa appointments, shore excursions, internet packages and more prior to your cruise. In fact, on Oasis and Quantum Class ships, you can even pre-book select entertainment on your ship.

It is a really good idea to purchase anything you can prior to the cruise for two basic reasons: it is often cheaper to book these options before the cruise (instead of onboard) and it helps break up the total cost of the cruise. 

In many cases, Royal Caribbean promises a discount on select pre-cruise purchases compared to the price onboard.  Periodically, Royal Caribbean will run sales on its pre-cruise purchases, which can yield higher savings. The discounted savings can vary, with the price of drink and internet packages varying from ship to ship and sailing to sailing. 

When you purchase anything before your cruise via the Cruise Planner site, you will be required to pay for it at the time of purchase.  This provides the ability to break up the total cost of the cruise.

When you make purchases onboard your cruise, at the end of the cruise you get a final bill with all of the charges tallied up.  By pre-purchasing certain items, you can pay off parts of the cruise months or years in advance, allowing you to reduce the cruise bill at the conclusion of your cruise.

An intangible benefit to pre-purchasing anything is it saves you time onboard from doing the exact same thing, which means more vacation time back to you.

Taking the time to purchase anything onboard does not take very much time, but every little bit helps, and some purchases on the first day of the cruise can require waiting in a line, such as drink packages.

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Packing

Packing for your cruise vacation is something some folks really enjoy and others lament.  Regardless, we all have to do it.

Where your cruise sails to will determine what exactly you need to pack, so it may be a good idea to research the weather in the ports you will be visiting, as well as figuring out if there will be any formal nights or themed nights on your sailing (more on formal nights and themed nights later).

This is also a good opportunity to check your luggage is good to go (i.e. no holes or rips).

In addition, you should start thinking about what clothing and outfits you want to bring with you.  This may trigger a memory that you wanted to replace a suit or shirt or get new shoes..

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Making special requests

If you have dietary, dining, special needs or other requests, be sure to make it in the weeks and months before your cruise to be certain they are on record and taken care of prior to your cruise.  A common mistake we see is guests waiting to make these requests onboard the ship.

Dietary requests

For any and all dietary requests, contact your travel agent or Certified Vacation Planner and request that the remark be noted in your reservation details.  you may add your request to the "update personal information." section. 

Special needs

If you have a special need, such as wheelchair assistance, service dog, difficulty going up or down steps, hearing troubles, sign language interpretation and more,  

Cribs or pack and plays

Don't worry about bringing a Pack 'n Play, Cruise line  provides one for your child to sleep in, free of charge .


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Consider travel insurance

Insurance is one of things that you do not think of until you need it and then it is worth every penny.  The thing is, not everyone needs travel insurance but you should look into what travel insurance offers and if you are at an elevated risk and would benefit from it.