Yes. The passport book, not the card. If you’re traveling outside of the US (even if leaving from a US port) and need to get back to the states before your cruise is over, you cannot fly home from a foreign country if you don’t have a passport book.
Cruising is priced per person based on double occupancy. If you’re traveling as an individual, expect to pay almost double. 3rd and 4th passengers traveling in the same stateroom will cost less than the 1st and 2nd passengers. I will warn you though, squeezing 4 people in a stateroom is quite tight, but doable if 2 of the 4 are kiddos. In my opinion, 4 adults in one stateroom would be a nightmare unless you’re in a suite.
Consider arriving the day before your ship departs so you are on the ship the day it leaves port. This is highly recommended when taking into account the unpredictability of the weather and the airlines. I will figure out the best way to get you between the airport, hotel, cruise ship and back to the airport.
You will find some of the best service on a cruise ship. Gratuities are very much earned and are customary. Most cruise lines allow you to pay them in advance so you won’t have to worry about them when your cruise is over. Average cost is around $12.00 – $14.00 per person, per day for a typical stateroom.
Hurricane season officially runs from June through November with September being the peak month. Keep this in mind when planning. You will find some great value sailing during this time, just be flexible as itineraries can change at the last minute when a hurricane is in the area.
Cruise insurance is highly recommended. You want to protect your investment in the event something comes up such as a cancelled cruise or missing the ship for weather reasons. Trip insurance will cover you if there is an emergency. To cover pre-existing conditions, the insurance must be purchased typically within 14 days of placing the original deposit.
All of your food, coffee, tea, some juices and milk. Your fare also includes your stateroom and all of the on-board entertainment you could want such as Broadway shows, karaoke, dance lessons, art auctions and much more. You will have a daily guide placed in your stateroom every evening detailing all the fun things available to do the next day.
Make sure to carry your cruise documents and passports with you in your carry-on when you board. Don’t put them in your luggage that will get delivered to your stateroom. You will be denied boarding if you do not have this paperwork. Speaking of which, when you get to the port, there will be someone to take your big luggage on board. Do tip for this service. It makes boarding a whole lot simpler than having to drag around big bags while finding your way about the ship. Your luggage will arrive outside your stateroom sometime that day. Might pack a bathing suit in your carry-on, just in case.