Cruises are often touted as convenient vacation packages, no extra thought required. But the truth is that booking your cruise is just the beginning of your preparation. Make sure you plan for the following before embarking:

1. Make sure you can get to the ship If you can drive to the dock, find a place where you can leave your car parked for a week, take a shuttle, or find a friend who’s willing to give you a ride. If you need to fly into town, give yourself twenty-four hours between when your flight arrives and your ship leaves. If the cruise ship leaves without you, you’ll have to fly to the next port where it will dock, robbing you of precious vacation time! And don’t forget to book transportation from the airport to the dock.

2. Book shore excursions The most memorable parts of your cruise will be your onshore adventures, which aren’t included in your cruise fare. Sometimes your cruise line will offer the lowest price, but other times you’ll need to go directly to local companies for the best deal. Depending on where you’re going and what time of year the cruise takes place, shore excursions may book up weeks in advance, so don’t leave these until the last minute!

Wherever you’re cruising to, a little extra preparation will save you both money and time spent stressing out.

– Ashley Lee