The Ultimate Cruise Planning Checklist

A little planning goes a long way toward a smooth vacation. To keep you on track and keep important tasks organized, use this cruise planning checklist from the moment you book your cruise until you are ready for your adventure!

Before Booking Your Cruise

If you haven’t booked your cruise yet, use the tips below to get cheaper tickets and get the most out of your cruise vacation.

Sign Up for Email Newsletters

Most of the cruise lines such as Celebrity, Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, offer deals emails with ongoing promotions in addition to last-minute deals and short sales. Check your emails often and you might get lucky with super cheap cruise vacation!

Prices Depend on the Time of Year

Cruises cost the most when school is in session. If you don’t depend on the school calendar, you can definitely save some money. The most expensive times to cruise are holidays – Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, and spring break!

Use this budget calculator for your Carnival Cruise Costs.

Set Price Drop Alerts

Before you book your cruise, you can monitor the rates by putting in your price and sail date on You’ll automatically get an email if the price rises or falls more than one percent. It can be helpful if you are not tied down to a specific date and can wait a few months before you book your vacation.

Book at the Last Minute

Surprisingly, but procrastination and flexibility can pay off. Check out last-minute cruise deals section on your preferred cruise line, there are always some Caribbean deals. Of course, booking last minute can mean more expensive airline and hotel bookings. Plus, you’ll have a limited selection of cabins and dinner seating. But, if you’re flexible and are near a cruise port, it’s a great way to save!

Join a Frequent Cruiser Program

If you are loyal to one cruise line you can start earning perks. This may include free cocktails, access to the spa’s thermal suite, complimentary dinners and discounts! Look at cruise lines’ programs and enjoy saving!’

The Ultimate Cruise Planning Checklist

Carnival Cruise Tips - Things You Wish You Knew Before You Cruise

Use these cruise planning tips and a cruise planning checklist below to get ready for your vacation!

Plan for the Extra Costs

Most cruises are not all-inclusive, drinks, shore excursions, specialty restaurants, spa treatments, laundry and dry cleaning, and WiFi can add up. Cruising is still a great value, but be sure to budget for all related costs. Read my post, Carnival Cruise Costs to calculate the price and budget for your upcoming trip!

Budget for Tips

Most ships these days automatically add a gratuity of $10 to $15 per person per day to your account at the end of the cruise. You can usually adjust the gratuity charge on the last full day before disembarkation. But be sure to budget for gratuities, the salaries of the hard-working crew members are pretty low and they depend on tips.

What to Pack for Your Cruise

Packing for a cruise can feel overwhelming: days at the beach, formal nights, snorkeling excursions and museum walks – how can you pack for all of it without packing your whole house in with you? Use and print this handy Cruise Packing List to easily check of all the items you already packed and keep in mind what you need!

Pack Your Carry-on Bag Well:

Pack everything you may need the first day in your carry-on: documents, wallets, bathing suits, cameras, medications, sandals, sunscreen, a change of summer clothes and toiletries. If the cruise line takes a little longer to deliver your suitcase, you’ll have all your necessities on hand. For more tips and to get an EDITABLE and PRINTABLE checklist, see this post: Cruise Packing Checklist and a FREE  printable packing list!

Don’t Forget the Cruise Necessities!

It will be more expensive or difficult to buy seemingly common products at sea. They will be twice as much if you forget these, some often-forgotten, useful items include feminine hygiene products, insect repellent, sunscreen, over-the-counter cold remedies, sunglasses.

*It is also a good idea to bring a power strip since there are always a shortage of outlets in the stateroom!

Know What to Wear

What clothes to bring on a Cruise

Are you wondering how many swimsuits should you bring? Or what should you wear on an elegant night? What do you need to remember on your adventure day at the port? All of those and more questions might come up while you are packing. On most ships, you are expected to dress up for the formal nights. During the day, all ships are usually very casual. If you are still unsure or are afraid to forget anything, check my Cruise Clothing Guide!

Check Your Documents

If your cruise calls in a foreign port, you must have your passport, a passport card, or an “enhanced” driver’s license. Taking a passport (and renewing if needed) is always a good idea, even if you’re just cruising to Alaska.

Use this Cruise Planning Checklist To Plan Your Trip

Cruise Planning Checklist by Travel Eat Blog

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Hi, I'm Marina, passionate traveler and blogger, based in the United States and travelling the world. Thanks for following me on my life and travel adventures!


  1. Josee Dunlop
    June 24, 2019

    I was thinking of doing a cruise for my honeymoon! I’m glad I saw this so I can get the best deal

    1. Marina
      August 6, 2019

      That’s great! Cruises are already a great deal ( if you don’t go with all the extras) I hope you have an amazing honeymoon!

  2. Nicole
    June 24, 2019

    Fantastic list! I enjoy the whole planning process, so this definitely speaks to me. Just pinned so that I can reference it before a cruise.

  3. Kathryn
    June 27, 2019

    Very helpful!!

  4. Heena
    June 27, 2019

    Useful tips and information. We are thinking for planning a Cruise vacation and this post will help me a lot to streamline things. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Marina
      August 3, 2019

      That’s great! hope you have a wonderful trip!

  5. Leyla
    August 1, 2019

    I absolutely love cruising on ferries. Thank-you for the useful tips 🙂

    1. Marina
      August 3, 2019

      Glad you loved it! Thanks!

  6. anoop
    June 23, 2020

    What should I wear? Many first-time cruisers wonder what they should wear on a cruise. This depends on your cruise line, your destinations and the activities you plan to do. Some cruise lines have formal nights that require formal attire, while others don t.


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