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Gen-X Women Cruising Solo - Part 2: How to Prepare For A Cruise

Updated: Jan 18

Are you preparing for a solo cruise? Or are you looking for information on how to prepare for a cruise? If so, you are in the right place! While the freedom to set your own pace and explore at will is liberating, the experience does require meticulous preparation to ensure safety and enjoyment.


Your Comprehensive Guide to Preparing for a Solo Cruise


This guide provides an in-depth roadmap for women to navigate the details of solo cruising with confidence.


Disclosure: We may receive compensation for products mentioned through affiliate links if purchases are made. While this may influence the products shown, we'll always share our own honest and unbiased opinions.


How To Prepare For a Cruise - Table of Contents:


So, You've Booked Your Cruise - What's Next?


Congratulations on taking the first step toward a thrilling and enriching solo adventure on the high seas!

Once your cruise is booked—covering your choice of cruise line, ship, cabin, and dates—the real preparation begins.


In this guide, we'll dive into all the elements you need to consider to make your solo cruise not just smooth, but downright unforgettable.


If you haven't yet locked in your cruise specifics like the cruise line, ship, or dates, don’t worry. We've got you covered with other comprehensive articles that walk you through those initial steps. Find them at: GenX Solo Cruise Articles and Guides.



Why Booking a Pre-Cruise Hotel is Essential


Booking a hotel room near your departure port for at least one night prior to the cruise is a vital step in your pre-cruise preparations, particularly if you're coming from out of town.


This ensures that you're well-rested and that you have ample time to arrive at the port without last-

minute stress.


Many hotels in cruise port and cities even offer special cruise packages that may include shuttle service to and from the cruise terminal, parking for the duration of your cruise, and breakfast. This makes your pre-cruise experience convenient and stress-free.


As a solo female traveler, safety is paramount. Make sure you read reviews about the hotel's location, staff behavior, and the security measures they have in place.


Websites and forums dedicated to solo travel and cruising can be valuable resources for finding recommended accommodations. Opt for a hotel with a 24-hour front desk, well-lit premises, and possibly consider a women-only floor if available.


Risks of Not Booking a Hotel the Night Before


Missing the Cruise: One of the most significant risks of not staying in a hotel the night before your cruise is the possibility of missing the ship altogether. Flights can be delayed or canceled, and traffic jams can happen, leading to a stressful race against the clock. Missing the ship could mean you have to bear extra costs to meet the cruise at the next port of call or, worse, forfeiting the entire trip.


Increased Stress: Even if you make it to the port in time, the anxiety and stress from cutting it close can set a negative tone for the start of your vacation. This is supposed to be your time to relax and enjoy, not to be consumed by stress.


No Time to Acclimate: Arriving the day of the cruise leaves you no time to acclimate to the new time zone or recover from any jet lag. This could affect your enjoyment of the first day or so of your cruise, especially if you have activities or excursions planned right away.


Potential for Extra Costs: If you're rushing to get to the port, you might have to opt for more expensive, last-minute transportation options. If you've forgotten any essential items in your hurry, you'll likely pay a premium to purchase them on the ship.


Limited Room for Contingencies: Life is full of unexpected events. Flat tires, lost luggage, or a variety of other mishaps can turn an otherwise straightforward travel day into a nightmare. Having a buffer day provides room to sort out these issues without the risk of impacting your cruise.


Safety Concerns: Rushing through unfamiliar cities or trying to make last-minute arrangements can sometimes put you in less-than-ideal situations, especially as a solo female traveler. Pre-booking ensures you have the time to choose a safe and well-reviewed hotel.


By booking a hotel room for the night before your cruise, you significantly reduce these risks, setting the stage for a relaxed, enjoyable solo adventure.



Flight Scheduling: Balancing Cost, Convenience, and Safety


When planning your trip, the timing of your flight is a crucial aspect to consider. Your flight schedule will not only impact your budget but also your overall travel experience, especially if you're flying into the port city on the day your cruise departs. Here are some points to ponder:


Scheduling for Same-Day Arrival

If you're flying in on the day your cruise is set to leave, you'll need to give yourself a sufficient time buffer to ensure you make it to the port on time. In an ideal world, you should aim for a flight that arrives in the early morning to mid-morning.


This provides a few hours of leeway for unexpected delays like flight cancellations, baggage issues, or traffic between the airport and the cruise terminal. However, this approach comes with a risk: if anything goes wrong, you could miss your cruise.


Flying In a Day Early and Staying in a Hotel

The more conservative and often recommended approach is to arrive at least a day before your cruise departure. This allows for more flexible flight options, giving you the time to settle into your hotel, explore a bit of the port city, and arrive at the port well-rested and stress-free the next day.


Daytime vs. Nighttime Flights

When traveling alone, it's advisable to book flights that arrive during the day. Daytime arrivals make it easier to navigate new cities, arrange for transportation, and check into hotels. Public transport options are usually more abundant during the day, and more people are around, adding an extra layer of safety.


Flights Home on Departure Day

When booking your flight home, you'll need to take into account the time it takes to disembark the cruise ship, go through customs, and travel to the airport. Cruise ships often give priority disembarkation to those with early flights, but there can still be unexpected delays.


As a general rule, aim to book a return flight that departs no earlier than 4-6 hours after your cruise is scheduled to dock. If possible, consider booking your return flight for the day after your cruise ends, allowing for a more relaxed disembarkation process and potentially a little extra time to explore your destination city.


Balancing Costs

While same-day flights might be cheaper, the risks and potential extra costs (should you miss the cruise) can outweigh the initial savings. On the other hand, arriving a day early might mean an extra night in a hotel, but it gives you peace of mind and the luxury of time, both of which are invaluable, especially for solo travelers.


Safety and Convenience

Always prioritize safety and convenience when booking flights. Non-stop flights are ideal because they eliminate the risks associaed with layovers and flight changes. Also, consider the reputation of the airline and the reviews of their service, particularly if you're not familiar with them.


Key Takeaways:

  • If you're flying in on the day of the cruise, aim for early morning to mid-morning flights to give yourself a time buffer.

  • If possible, fly in a day earlier and book a hotel near the port to alleviate stress and allow time for contingencies.

  • Opt for daytime flights for easier and safer navigation upon arrival.

  • For your return flight, aim to depart at least 4-6 hours after your cruise is scheduled to dock, or consider flying out the next day for a more relaxed experience.

By thoughtfully scheduling your flight with these factors in mind, you'll be better positioned for a stress-free start to your solo cruise adventure.



Ground Transportation From Airport to Hotel or Cruise Port


Once you've landed, you'll need a way to get from the airport to either your hotel or directly to the port.

Various options are available, including car rentals, Ubers, taxis, or hotel shuttles.


Car rentals offer flexibility but come with the hassle of returning the car before boarding your cruise.

Uber and taxis offer convenience but can be pricey depending on distance.


Hotel shuttles are often the most budget-friendly and convenient for travelers staying overnight before the cruise, but be sure to confirm this option when making your hotel reservations.


As a solo female traveler, always prioritize safety—use reputable car services, and consider sharing your location with a trusted friend or family member during the ride.


If you plan to explore the port city before your cruise or need transportation to the port, consider renting a car. Book this well in advance and research the safest, most reliable options.




The Importance of Travel Insurance: Pros, Cons, and How to Get It


Travel insurance is often viewed as an optional add-on, but for solo cruisers, it can be a lifesaver.


Pros of Travel Insurance:


Trip Cancellation Coverage: Life happens, and sometimes, it's necessary to cancel your trip. With trip cancellation coverage, you can recoup some or all of your non-refundable costs.


Medical Emergency Protection: If you get sick or injured while cruising, onboard medical care can be limited and expensive. The insurance can cover medical emergencies and urgent care, including medical evacuation if necessary.


Travel Delay Reimbursements: If your flight is delayed or canceled, causing you to miss part of your cruise, insurance can cover additional expenses such as hotel stays and meals while you catch up to your cruise.


Cruise-Specific Coverage: Specialized policies can offer coverage for events like missed port calls, itinerary changes, or even issues that arise from severe weather affecting your cruise.


Peace of Mind: Traveling alone can sometimes be stressful. Knowing you're covered for various

emergencies can bring a sense of security.

Cons of Travel Insurance:


Cost: Insurance can be expensive, often ranging from 4% to 10% of your total trip cost.


Limited Coverage: Not all scenarios are covered. For example, pre-existing medical conditions may be excluded unless you purchase a "Cancel for Any Reason" policy, which is generally more expensive.


Claim Hurdles: Sometimes, the process for claiming reimbursement can be cumbersome, requiring extensive documentation and a waiting period.


Overlapping Coverage: Some benefits may overlap with protections already offered by your credit card, homeowner's insurance, or existing health insurance, meaning you might be paying for redundant coverage.

How to Get Insurance:

  1. Assess Your Needs: Before you start shopping, list out what kind of coverage you're looking for—medical, trip cancellation, delays, luggage, etc.

  2. Compare Policies: Use insurance comparison websites to get an idea of what different policies offer and their costs.

  3. Read the Fine Print: Always read the policy details carefully. Check for any exclusions or limitations, especially those that might apply to cruising.

  4. Consult with Your Cruise Line: Some cruise lines offer their own travel protection plans, which might be easier to integrate with your trip booking. However, they may offer less comprehensive coverage.

  5. Contact Insurance Companies: Once you've narrowed down your options, call the insurance providers to clarify any questions or concerns.

  6. Make the Purchase: Buy the policy that best suits your needs, making sure to complete the purchase well before your trip departure date.

  7. Keep Documentation: Once purchased, print out a copy of your policy and keep it, along with the insurance provider's contact information, accessible throughout your trip.

By considering these factors and steps, you'll be well on your way to making an informed decision about travel insurance for your solo cruise adventure.


Ensuring Your Travel Documents Are Ready and Up-to-Date


Keep All Essential Documents Valid and Updated

One of the foundational steps for any trip is ensuring all your crucial travel documents are up to date and valid for the duration of your journey.


If you're traveling internationally, your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date. Double-check visa requirements for all the destinations on your cruise itinerary.

Some countries require visas even for short port visits.


In addition to your passport, bring any other necessary identification, such as a driver's license, especially if you plan to rent a car during any of your stops.


Always check well ahead with your cruise line to determine what type of identification is needed. Some domestic cruise ships and lines require birth certificate plus driver's license if you do not have a passport.


Digital and Physical Copies are Essential

It's a good idea to make both digital and physical copies of all essential documents—passport, driver's license, any required visas, and travel insurance.


Store digital copies in a secure cloud storage service and perhaps an encrypted folder on your phone.

Physical copies should be kept separately from the originals, in a secure spot like a locked suitcase or a hotel safe.


Always Have the Ship's Contact Information

Never underestimate the value of having your ship's contact information readily accessible. This information is invaluable if you encounter problems during shore excursions or find yourself separated from your group.


Store this data in your phone and also keep a physical copy in your daypack or purse for easy access.


Print Important Documents

While digital backups are convenient, printed copies of important documents like your travel insurance policy, cruise itinerary, and any visa or entry permits should also be carried. Physical copies can expedite various processes and act as a backup in case of loss of electronic access.


By meticulously planning and organizing all your essential cruise documents very well in advance of your trip, you’ll not only reduce stress but also ensure that you're well-prepared for any contingencies that may arise during your solo cruise adventure.


Getting Familiar With Your Cruise: Research and Networking Tips


Get Acquainted with Your Cruise Line, Ship, and Itinerary

Before you embark on your adventure, take some time to research the cruise line you've chosen, the specific ship you'll be on, and the itinerary you'll be following.


Knowing what amenities are offered, the dining options, and what activities are available can help you make the most out of your trip. Check out the cruise line’s website, read customer reviews, and watch video tours to get a feel for what to expect.


Connect with Experienced Cruisers for Advice

The internet is a treasure trove of insights from people who've already navigated the waters you're about to sail. Websites, forums, and travel blogs offer invaluable tips on everything from the best dining options to must-see spots during shore excursions.


Take advantage of these resources to help you avoid common mistakes and to enrich your cruising experience.



Join a Roll Call to Meet Future Shipmates

Many cruise lines provide an online "roll call" feature on their websites or forums. Here, you can meet fellow passengers who will be sailing on the same cruise as you. Cruise Critic is a great place to join roll calls and learn about the cruise ship and more.


It's a fantastic opportunity to connect with others, especially if you're cruising solo. You might even find people interested in sharing excursions or dining experiences.


Leverage Social Media for Pre-Cruise Networking

Several social media platforms have dedicated groups or pages for specific cruise ships, and even particular sailing dates.


Platforms like Facebook can be an excellent way to familiarize yourself with your future shipmates, ask questions, and share advice. You can also use these platforms to plan group activities in advance, like group shore excursions or meet-ups on the ship.


By investing some time in researching and networking before your trip, you'll feel better prepared, more informed, and perhaps even a little more excited about the amazing cruise experience that awaits you.


Planning Your Cruise Activities: Where to Find Information and How to Book


Research and Reserve Key Activities Early

Your cruise line's website or mobile app usually provides a detailed itinerary and list of available activities, excursions, and special dining experiences.


Activities that are highly popular can fill up quickly. As soon as your cruise itinerary becomes available, review it and identify experiences you don't want to miss out on. Reserve these as soon as you can either via the cruise line's website or app.


Assess the Value of a Drink Package

Most cruise lines offer drink packages that can be pre-purchased through their website or app. If you enjoy alcoholic beverages, cocktails, or even specialty coffees, these packages could offer good value.


Compare the options and pricing on your cruise's platform and book in advance to take advantage of any available discounts.


Secure Your Preferred Dining Times

If your cruise ship offers flexible, dining room options, make your reservations as soon as they become available, which is usually on the cruise line's website or app. Popular dining times fill up quickly, and early reservations ensure you'll dine when you prefer.


Make Informed Choices on Shore Excursions

Details about shore excursions are also generally available on the cruise line's website or app. While booking through the cruise line might be more expensive, it often comes with the peace of mind that the ship won't leave without you if the tour runs late.


If you're considering independent excursions, make sure you've done ample research and account for travel time back to the ship.


Reserve Spa Services in Advance

For spa services, slots can be reserved usually via the cruise line’s website or mobile app. If you're interested in massages, facials, or other spa treatments however, it's wise to book these services well in advance, especially for high-demand time slots like sea days or evenings.


Optimize Onboard Spending with a Points-Earning Credit Card

If you have a credit card that earns you travel rewards, use it for onboard spending. You can usually link your credit card to your cruise account via the cruise line's app or website. Remember to inform your card provider about your travel dates so your card functions smoothly during your trip.


By methodically planning and booking in advance through your cruise line's digital platforms, you’ll not only secure your spot in the activities you’re most excited about but also streamline your onboard experience, making for a truly relaxing and enjoyable vacation.


Packing Essentials and What to Avoid: Guide for Solo Female Cruisers

What To Pack


Essential Clothing: Think versatile and layer-friendly. Pack a mix of casual wear for day activities, swimwear for pool or beach days, and some dressier options for evenings. Also, don't forget a light jacket or shawl for cooler indoor areas and evenings.


Comfortable Footwear: Walking sandals, casual shoes, and a pair of dressier shoes for evening events should cover your bases.


Personal Care Items: While most cruises offer basic toiletries, bring any specific brands or products you can't live without. This might include skin care products, medications, and a small first aid kit.


Tech Gear: Your phone, charger, and perhaps a portable battery pack are essentials. Also, consider bringing a camera if you're keen on capturing high-quality photos.


Travel Documents: Keep your passport, any required visas, and other essential documents in an easily accessible but secure spot. A small travel wallet or pouch that can fit in your day bag is a good idea.


Safety Items: As a solo female cruiser, you might also consider packing a door alarm for added security, and a whistle could come in handy as well.


Entertainment: Books, e-readers, or downloadable movies can keep you entertained during downtime.



What Not To Pack


Overpacking Clothes: You'll likely not wear half of what you think you'll need. Plus, most cruise ships offer laundry services.


Valuables: It's generally a good idea to leave expensive jewelry or gadgets at home. If you must bring them, make use of the in-room safe.


Restricted Items: Each cruise line has a list of prohibited items, which often includes items like irons, candles, or alcohol. Check your cruise line's policy to avoid having items confiscated.


Bulky Towels or Linens: Towels for swimming and showers are provided, as are all bed linens, so save the space in your suitcase for other essentials.


Excessive Snacks: While it's okay to bring a few snacks, remember that meals and some snacks are included in the price of your cruise.


Single-Use Plastics: Many cruise lines are working towards sustainability and discourage the use of single-use plastic items like water bottles and straws. Bring a refillable water bottle instead.


By carefully considering what to bring and what to leave at home, you can maximize your enjoyment and peace of mind while minimizing hassle and luggage weight. Always consult your cruise line's guidelines for specific packing do's and don'ts.

Summary of Expert Tips and Tricks for Solo Female Cruisers: Prepare Like a Pro


Research is Your Best Friend

The more you know, the better your experience. Research not just the cruise line and the ship, but also the ports you’ll be visiting. Websites, apps, and forums dedicated to cruising can be valuable resources. Look for tips specific to solo female travelers to get insights on safety and activities.


Leverage Social Media and Online Communities

Join Facebook groups or forums related to your specific cruise or cruise line. These platforms can be gold mines for insider tips and offer a chance to connect with fellow passengers before you embark, reducing the 'solo' aspect of your trip.


Safeguard Your Personal Space

If safety is a concern, consider packing a rubber door stop or a portable door alarm for added security in your cabin. Some solo female travelers also recommend using a 'do not disturb' sign for the duration of the trip to keep the cabin as your private sanctuary.


Opt for Cruise Line-Organized Excursions

Though they may be pricier, choosing excursions organized by the cruise line ensures that the ship won’t leave without you. It's an extra peace-of-mind factor that can be particularly comforting when you're traveling alone.


Prebook Activities but Leave Room for Spontaneity

While it's wise to book popular activities in advance, also leave some time for spontaneous plans. You might meet new friends and decide to join them for certain activities or excursions.


Use Technology Wisely

Download the cruise app if available. It will be a hub for daily activities, dining menus, and often has a chat feature that allows you to connect with other passengers. Don’t forget to also take screenshots of essential travel documents and store them securely on your device.


Make Dining Enjoyable

If the idea of dining alone is intimidating, bring a book or e-reader as a 'dining companion.' Alternatively, opt for group dining options often offered by the cruise lines to meet new people.


Dress Smart

If you plan to explore ports alone, consider dressing modestly to blend in, especially in more conservative cultures. Always prioritize comfort and practicality over fashion; however, a few elegant options for onboard dinners and activities can boost your confidence.


Trust Your Instincts

Listen to your intuition. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn’t. Whether it's opting out of an excursion or choosing to retire to your cabin early, always prioritize your comfort and safety.


By applying these tips and tricks tailored for solo female cruisers, you're not just preparing for a voyage; you're setting the stage for an empowering and enriching travel experience.


General FAQ on How To Prepare For a Cruise:

How much money should I bring to a cruise?

The amount of money you should bring depends on several factors, including the type of cruise, what is included in your cruise package, and your personal spending habits.


Most cruises are all-inclusive to some extent, covering meals and basic amenities. However, extras like specialty dining, excursions, shopping, and tips can add up.


It's advisable to budget between $50 to $200 per day for these additional expenses. Always carry some cash for small expenditures and tipping, but most cruise lines allow you to link a credit card to your onboard account for convenience.


How do I prepare my phone for a cruise?

To prepare your phone for a cruise, make sure you understand the roaming charges that may apply when you're at sea or in foreign ports.


You may want to purchase a data package or rely on the ship's Wi-Fi. However, keep in mind that ship Wi-Fi can be slow and expensive.


Turn off automatic updates and background apps to conserve data. Download offline maps and entertainment. Also, install a currency conversion app and any travel apps that will enhance your cruise experience.


When should I start getting ready for a cruise?

It's advisable to start preparing for your cruise at least 3 to 6 months in advance. This gives you ample time to research excursions, obtain any necessary visas, get vaccinations if needed, and shop for cruise-appropriate clothing and essentials.


The earlier you start, the less stressful and more enjoyable the preparation process will be.


How much money should be taken on a cruise?

This question is similar to the one about how much money to bring. Budget between $50 to $200 per day for additional expenses not covered in your cruise fare, like excursions, specialty dining, shopping, and tips.


It's a good idea to have a mix of cash and a credit card linked to your onboard account for convenience.


What do you not need to bring on a cruise?

Avoid packing items like a hairdryer or towels, as these are usually provided onboard. Also, most cruise ships prohibit items like alcohol, hot plates, and irons.


Don't overpack clothes; instead, opt for versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched. Since you are a solo female traveler, prioritize essentials and safety items over non-essentials.


Is it OK to travel by yourself?

Absolutely, it's OK to travel by yourself, and many women find solo travel to be a rewarding experience.

It offers an opportunity for self-discovery, flexibility, and freedom.


However, it's crucial to take safety precautions, stay aware of your surroundings, and let someone know your travel plans.


Why is it hard to travel alone?

Traveling alone can be challenging due to factors like loneliness, the responsibility of planning and making decisions alone, and safety concerns, especially for women. Additionally, single supplements can make solo travel more expensive.


How can I travel alone and enjoy it?

To enjoy solo travel, plan but remain flexible, stay connected with friends and family through digital means, and make an effort to meet new people.


Choose destinations and activities that interest you personally, rather than going with what's popular or recommended. Always prioritize safety; carry necessary safety gadgets and keep emergency numbers handy.


How easy is it to travel alone?

The ease of solo travel largely depends on your preparation, destination, and mindset. With thorough research and planning, solo travel can be a straightforward and rewarding experience.


Many destinations are solo-travel friendly, with good public transport and plenty of activities suitable for individuals.


Is it a good idea to go on a cruise alone?

Going on a cruise alone can be a great idea if you're looking for relaxation, adventure, and the opportunity to meet new people.


Many cruise lines offer activities and social events specifically for solo travelers. However, be prepared to pay a single supplement fee, as many cruise fares are based on double occupancy.


What percentage of people go on cruises alone?

The percentage of people who go on cruises alone varies but is generally estimated by the cruise industry to be around 5-10% of all cruisers.


The trend of solo cruising has been on the rise, and many cruise lines are offering more options tailored to solo travelers.


What does cruising alone mean?

Cruising alone means taking a cruise without a partner, family, or friends. While you'll be traveling independently, cruises offer plenty of opportunities to meet people, whether it's through activities, meals, or excursions.


Why is cruising solo so expensive?

Cruising solo is often more expensive because many cruise fares are based on double occupancy, meaning they are priced with the expectation that two people will share the cost of a stateroom.


When you cruise alone, you may be required to pay a single supplement fee, which can range from 10% to 100% of the cruise fare, to compensate for the lack of a second passenger.


Summary for How To Prepare For a Cruise

Preparing for a solo cruise as a woman doesn't have to be hard. Make sure to book your hotel, flight, and maybe even a rental car well in advance. Consider travel insurance for peace of mind.


Keep your important papers like your passport and cruise details handy and safe. Get to know your ship and plan fun activities ahead of time.


Also, pack smart—bring what you'll need but skip things that the cruise already provides or that you really won't use. This helps you focus on having a great time rather than worrying about the details.


Additional Cruise Resources


For more cruise articles, read on below or go to GenXsolo.com/cruises.


Christmas Cruise & Christmas Gift Ideas for Cruisers

Cruise Articles Series for GenX Women Cruising Solo:

Royal Caribbean and Coco Cay:

Cruise Articles General Information:

Detailed Packing Lists with Downloadable, Printable Checklist PDF:


Cruise Critic: This is an invaluable online resource for cruise enthusiasts and first-timers alike. Cruise Critic offers detailed reviews of cruise lines, ships, and destinations, as well as forums where you can ask questions and share experiences.


Click the photo below to see what Cruise Critic has to offer:

Whether you're looking for the best excursions in a particular port or tips for cruising solo, Cruise Critic has you covered.


We hope this has helped you understand how to prepare for a cruise. Bon voyage and happy sailing!


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