Tag Archives: Credit Card

Pre-cruise Check List: Getting the most out of your cruise

20 Feb

Before You Book Your Cruise:

  • Travel Insurance – Research Travel Insurance and find the plan the suits your needs. I always chose on with a “cancel for any reason” benefit. I work for a school and travel during Spring Break. However, sometimes weather is bad during the winter and there’s always the chance that Spring Break may get cut short to make up for too many snow days. It gives me piece of mind to know that I can always cancel if I need to without losing my entire investment. Read some more reasons why you need Travel Insurance
  • Know Your Destination – Take the time to learn all you can about your destination. Are there off peak times? Is there a rainy season? What areas should you avoid? Are there activities that interest you? I heard one woman complain about every port on her cruise to the Bahamas – she thought the beaches were too sunny and there was nothing else to do. There’s no need for that kind of disappointment. Had she done her research she would have
  • Research Your Cabin – Look at the ship’s deck plan to find rooms that are in a good location (avoid ones below a night club or cabins in the front of the ship if you are prone to seasickness). I also research the actual stateroom to see if there have been any complaints about it. Sometimes there are idiosyncrasies about certain rooms that do not show up on the deck plan map such as a pole in the middle of the room or an obstructed view or are within earshot of a very squeaky cruise passage door.
  • Get a Passport – Even if though US Citizens technically do not need one for a closed-circuit Bermuda cruise, don’t take any chances. If an emergency happens you cannot fly home without one. Learn some common Passport Myths.
  • Ask About Accommodations – If you have a condition that requires special accommodations, make sure you find out whether or not the cruise line will be able to meet those needs BEFORE you book. Do you need a refrigerator to store your insulin? Do you need a wheelchair accessible room? Do you need oxygen or CPAP? Do you have a child with special needs that will be enrolling in the kids club?

Immediately After Booking:

  • Start Your Countdown! – The anticipation for an upcoming cruise is one of the best parts.
  • Get Social – Go on the Cruise Critic Discussion Board and find your sailing’s Roll Call. Find your Cruise Line’s Facebook Page and ask questions. There’s often a great community of past cruisers that are more than happy to share their wisdom with you.
  • Plan Excursions – Start narrowing down which excursions you want to go on. There’s lots of info on CruiseCritic.com. Make the most of it.

Getting Accounts Ready Before You Leave:

  • Credit Card – Place a travel notification on your account, and be sure that you keep a copy of your account number and international customer service numbers in case your card is lost or stolen. Important Note: Do NOT use a debit card for your on board expenses. The ship will most likely put a hold worth several hundred dollars on your checking account and it may take weeks for it to clear. More info on Credit Cards can be found here
  • Cell Phone – Call your provider and make sure your phone will work and that you know the fine print about using your phone at sea and in a foreign land. Costs can add up quickly. More info on Cell Phones can be found here.
  • Put a Hold On – Your Mail and newspaper. Maybe even your daily email subscriptions – this way you aren’t inundated with 500 messages when you return. It also makes spotting important ones easier. The ship’s Internet is very slow and expensive. The less time you have to spend sorting through messages the better.

Call Your Doctor:

  • Immunizations – Find out if there any required or optional immunizations that could protect you while you are traveling.
  • Get Copies of Your Prescriptions – It is important to bring the actual prescription with the doctor’s signature. You may need it in an emergency and/or if the legitimacy of the medication is called into question. Also, be sure to bring your medicine in it’s original packaging so that authorities don’t have to guess what it is. Be sure to have more than enough in case your trip gets extended either by choice or by circumstance (bad weather, engine fire, or other mishap).
  • Get a Doctor’s Note – Ask your doctor for written documentation if you have a medical condition that may acquire special accommodation. Here’s a cautionary tale: While on a cruise with traditional dining (aka – fixed time, fixed table), I was waiting in line to switch my assigned time. There was an elderly couple in front of me that was given two different dinner seatings. One had the early seating and the other had the late seating. The maitre d’ refused to allow them to switch their seating assignments because the ship was sailing full and there was no room to switch around. Well, the man could not feed himself, and he was diabetic and needed the early seating. Thankfully, the wife brought a note from the doctor, and the problem was resolved quickly. But this maitre d’ was not going to budge an inch without it. Can you imagine how awful that would have been for this couple?
  • Be Aware of Controlled Substances – Some medication that is legal in the USA may not be legal in the country you are traveling to. Bermuda does not allow medical marijuana, and they have very strict punishment for anyone bringing it onto the island. In fact, the ship may have it’s own rules as well. Be sure to figure this out before you end up in jail.
  • Ask About Seasickness Medicine – There are wonderful medications for available for seasickness – some are prescription only and some are over-the-counter. Please discuss this with your doctor to find the right remedy for you.

Taking Care of Your Home:

  • Use Facebook Wisely – As exciting as it is, it’s never a good idea to post too much information about your travel plans. Thieves are tricky and can piece together info to figure out when you’re gone. 
  • Snow Removal – If you’re traveling during the winter, be sure you have something in place so that  your driveway can be plowed.
  • Pets , Kids & Family At Home – Be sure you have everything your petsitter and/or babysitter could need. Make them aware that you will not be reachable at times. Discuss ahead of time how often you will check in and how you will – email, phone call, text? Have an emergency back up plan just in case you need to cut your trip short or if your cruise is delayed because of whether or other unforeseen circumstances. What did all those people on the Carnival Triumph do for all those days they were stuck at sea with no means of communication with family back home? Be sure you have a plan.
  • Security – Keep your home safe by having a house sitter, alarm system, lights on timers, and/or a big dog. 🙂
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Cell Phones, Credit Cards, and Bermuda’s Currency

18 Feb

When you travel to Bermuda (or to any other country) there are somethings you need to prepare for ahead of time. It is important to know ahead of time how to minimize the cost of using your cell phone, avoiding the embarrassment of having your credit card declined, and being stuck with lots of foreign money.

Cell Phones/Smart Phones

It is not free to use your phone even though you still have a signal. About an hour after your ship leaves the port, you will be “roaming.” This means your usual phone plan and your data plan no longer apply. However, your carrier might not be forthcoming with this knowledge. I’ve heard horror stories of people returning from the trip of their lifetime only to discover they have a $500 cell phone bill!

Important things to know about your phone:

  • Call your cell phone provider before you leave on your trip. Tell them that you will be traveling out of the country on a cruise ship and ask them to spell out any roaming charges or hidden costs for making calls, sending texts, or using the Internet.
  • Make sure your phone will actually work in a foreign country. Unless  you have a GSM carrier (like. ATT and TMobile) phone, it probably won’t be functional outside of the USA. Verizon, Sprint and Metro PCS phones are usually not GSM. They are CDMA and the USA is the only place that uses that frequency.
  • Remember that calls/texts and data are two different things. Data is handled separately from calls/text (SMS/MMS), and data roaming charges are very costly even if you never use your phone! I recommend learning how to put your phone in “Airplane Mode” before you board the ship.
  • Learn more at: Independent Traveler’s International Cell Phone Guide and their tips for traveling with a Smart Phone. CNET also has some advice for travelers with cell phones.

Credit Cards

It’s important to call your credit card provider and let them know you need a travel notification placed on your account. If you forget to do this, your card may be declined. Also, be wary of debit cards. If lost or stolen, you may lose the money in your checking account instantly, and it may take weeks to resolve the issue. Also, most cruises put an automatic hold on of a several hundred dollars on your card. It may take a few weeks for this to clear. Unless you are very wealthy, don’t want to mess with the funds in your checking account. Also, a credit card offers better protection against fraud. You can also appeal the charges with the credit card company if you truly feel you have been wronged. Debit cards rarely give you that option. I always bring two credit cards, and store them in separate locations, in case something happens to one then I have the other to fall back on. Don’t forget to jot down your credit card number and international customer service number in the rare instance you need to call them.

Bermuda’s Currency

At the time I am writing this, the US Dollar and the Bermudian Dollar are equal. You can pay for souvenirs or meals using US Dollars while on the island. However, you may be given Bermudian Dollars as change. I recommend using small bills that way you don’t get stuck with a lot of Bermudian Dollars at the end of your stay. It will cost money to exchange these back to US Dollars when you return home.

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