Cruising is a unique and exciting experience that allows you to explore new places, relax and enjoy all the amenities offered on a ship. If you’re a full-time RVer, taking a cruise can add a new dimension to your travel experiences. Who doesn’t need a break from everyday life? We enjoy breaks from work and away from our “home” – even if our home has wheels!
Preparing for a cruise as a full-time RVer comes with a few extra considerations. Here are some tips to help you get started planning your cruise vacation!
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Table of Contents
Research And Choose The Right Cruise Line
Research the different cruise lines to determine which one is the best fit for you and what kind of atmosphere you enjoy. Consider the destinations, activities, and amenities offered, as well as the cost.
All of the cruises we’ve been on have been with Carnival. They’re very budget friendly, a ton of fun, and we enjoy the laid back atmosphere.
Plan your budget and make sure you have enough money to cover all of your expenses, including the cost of the cruise, travel to and from the port, food, gratuities, and any excursions you plan to take.
Don’t forget to budget for where you plan to park your RV, whether it’s in a campground or parked elsewhere (more on this in a minute).
Plan Your Route
Decide where you would like to go and which port you’ll be cruising out of, taking into account the time of year and weather conditions. Plan your route and make reservations for campgrounds or RV parks in advance, so you’ll have a place to stay before and after the cruise.
Our most recent cruise in January was out of Miami, Florida. We made plans in advance to be at an RV park in the area a couple weeks early so we had plenty of time to get ready for the cruise. It’s important to note that in some states (like Florida) campground reservations are more difficult to secure at the last minute. Advanced planning and reservations is suggested!
Where To Park Your RV
You can store your RV at a storage facility or at a friend or family member’s property. Make sure to properly secure and cover your RV to protect it while it’s in storage.
Leave It At A Campground
If you’re cruising from a nearby port, you can park your RV at a nearby campground. This way, you’ll have a place to stay when you return from your cruise and you won’t have to worry about storage costs.
We chose a campground we’ve stayed at before and knew we’d feel comfortable leaving our RV there during our cruise. Always read reviews before booking a campground to ensure it’ll be a good fit (Campendium is a great place to read campground reviews!).
Drive It To Your Departure Port
If you’re cruising from a different state or country, you can drive your RV to the port and park it in a designated RV parking area. Make sure to check the port’s policies and regulations regarding RV parking in advance.
*I would not recommend this for larger RVs (depending on the port). While there was a small designated area for RV parking in the port of Miami, we were very glad we didn’t try to park our 40 foot fifth wheel at the port. Traffic at the port of Miami is nuts and it would’ve been a lot more stressful had we been also towing our RV behind us.
Plan For Your Pet
If you’re a full-time RVer traveling with a pet, you’ll need to make arrangements for your furry friend while you’re on your cruise. Here are a few options to consider:
You can board your pet at a local kennel or pet hotel while you’re on your cruise. This is a great option if you have a well-behaved pet that enjoys being around other animals and is comfortable in a kennel environment. Just be sure to check with the boarding facility to see if they have any special requirements or restrictions.
Here’s how it works:
Using the Rover app, you can search for pet sitters in your area who are available to take care of your pet while you’re on your cruise. You can filter your search by location, availability, and other factors to find a pet sitter who’s a good match for your pet.
Rover allows pet owners to leave reviews of their experience with pet sitters, so you can get a better idea of what to expect from a particular pet sitter. This can be helpful in choosing the right person for your pet.
Once you’ve found a pet sitter you like, you can book and pay through the Rover app. You’ll also communicate with your pet sitter and receive updates on your pet’s care while you’re away directly in the app. This can give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your cruise without worrying about your pet.
In RV Pet Sitter
Another option is to hire a pet sitter to stay at your RV and take care of your pet while you’re on your cruise. This can be a more personalized and comfortable option for both you and your pet, as your pet will be in a familiar environment with someone they know.
Make sure you have all of the necessary travel documents, such as a passport or government-issued ID, travel visas (if required), and proof of citizenship. Sometimes all you need is an ID and birth certificate for domestic cruises. Check the cruise line’s website so you know which documents are required!
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you complete any pre-cruise online check in. With Carnival Cruise Line you must fill out the online check in and select an arrival appointment within 14 days prior to sailing.
Ensuring that you have all the proper documents and paperwork filled out will lead to a smooth embarkation process.
Luggage / Pack Wisely
Pack smart and bring only what you need. On a cruise, space is limited, so think about the items that you’ll need on the ship and those that you can leave behind in your RV.
Pack your luggage carefully and label each piece, especially if you have several bags. Consider packing a small bag or backpack with essentials that you’ll need while traveling to the port and while on the ship, such as medications, a change of clothes, and important documents.
Again, to ensure a smooth embarkation process, review the list of prohibited items before you begin packing for your trip! Items like an iron or clothes steamer are usually not allowed as they’re a fire hazard onboard.
If plan to check a bag we highly suggest a durable suitcase that also has a lock on it. When your luggage gets delivered on the cruise it is sat outside your room so a bag that has a TSA lock is helpful in case your luggage is delivered while you’re out and about exploring the ship. We’ve been using Samsonite Luggage for years for both our checked and carry on bags and highly recommend them! We also suggest getting luggage tag holders for your bags so that your info is securely on your bag and doesn’t get lost.
Familiarize Yourself With The Cruise Ship
Research the ship and its amenities, so you know what to expect when you board. Read about the different dining options, activities, and entertainment offered, and plan accordingly.
It can be easy to get turned around onboard a cruise ship, so it’s also a good idea to study a map of the ship so you have a general idea of where everything is located. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure if your cruise line has an app, to download that before your cruise begins. These apps usually have important information such as an itinerary and list of activities, dinner menus, map of the ship and more.
Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect yourself in case of any unexpected events or incidents during your cruise.
On our most recent trip, I was bitten by a monkey during one of our shore excursions… While it wasn’t anything major, it did leave me feeling anxious and a bit scared until we were able to confirm that all the monkeys at the facility had their rabies vaccinations.
You never know what kind of medical emergency might pop up!
Make sure you have a way to stay connected with your RV and the outside world if you need to! (Or don’t because breaks are nice). Most cruise lines offer various internet and wifi packages if you need to stay connected during your trip.
You’ll want to make sure to turn off data roaming while at sea! If you’re not planning to use your phone for data, make sure to turn off data roaming in your phone’s settings. This will help prevent accidental data charges that can add up quickly. We also set our phone to airplane mode as well.
If you have iMessage you may still be able to text during your trip. Phil and I were able communicate with each other this way (although it didn’t always work consistently).
Before you leave on your cruise, make sure to check with your cell phone carrier to see what their international roaming policies are. Some carriers offer international roaming packages that can help you save money on calls, texts, and data while you’re abroad. This will allow you to use your phone for calls, texts, and data while you’re at the ports of call.
Pre-Cruise RV Prep
Before you leave, make sure your RV is clean and in good condition, and arrange for it to be stored or left with a trusted friend or family member while you’re on the cruise. You may also want to make arrangements for any mail or packages to be forwarded to you or held for you until you return.
Here is a checklist of items you’ll want to prep before leaving your RV behind:
- Close all windows & blinds
- Turn off all lights
- Bring in awnings
- Put away all outside items like chairs, bikes, outdoor rugs, grills, etc.
- Flush & empty all holding tanks
- Disconnect from city water & disconnect sewer hose
- Turn off inverter and/or circuits not in use
- Clean out the fridge & freezer – Remove food that will expire and prevent spoilage should the power go out. *If emptying and will be away from power sources, turn fridge off and leave door open.
- Remote monitoring – If you’ll be monitoring with video surveillance know what you need to leave ON to power this. Don’t forget an internet source!
- For towable RVs a kingpin lock or a trailer coupler lock (depending on whether you have a fifth wheel or travel trailer) is another way to prevent theft while you’re away.
- Double check that all doors (including your outside baggage doors) are secure and locked!
*Leaving your RV behind is always at your own risk. This checklist is provided as a courtesy based on the steps we take when leaving our RV behind.
Preparing for a cruise as a full-time RVer requires careful planning and attention to detail. From researching cruise lines and itineraries, to securing your RV and making arrangements for your pet, taking the time to properly prepare will help ensure that you have a safe, enjoyable, and stress-free cruise vacation.
What are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your RV keys, and get ready to set sail on a truly memorable adventure.