10 - Get There the Night Before: Before you make your air arrangements, consider arriving at least one day before the start of your cruise. Besides the chance that your air travel is delayed due to weather or airline difficulties, there is a lot to see in the homeport of your cruise ship. Why not take advantage of seeing the local area so that you can begin your vacation on the right foot? Whether your cruise ship is departing from Barcelona, Athens, Venice or beyond, book a sightseeing excursion in your home port to extend your cruise vacation and make the first day of your cruise more than just a long checkin process.

9 - Pack a Carry On: With tens of thousands of pieces of luggage being delivered onboard the ship each boarding day, it can take a while for your suitcase to arrive. Pack anything you need for the afternoon and first evening on the ship (including medications, bathing suit, toiletries, valuables, evening clothes to change into etc.) so that you don’t end up waiting for hours in your stateroom for your luggage. And what about all your gadgets? Make sure to keep those with you - just like when you fly we don’t recommend that you pack them in your regular luggage.

8 - Get Ready for Formal Night: The elegance of formal night tradition is still alive and well on most Mediterranean cruises. With an international mix of guests onboard, the formal nights tend to be observed and you will see men in suits and women in evening wear. So pack appropriately, grab a glass of champagne and get ready to shine!

Venice Sightseeing

7 - Have Breakfast in Bed: On a port day, breakfast can get crowded as everyone tries to eat at the same time before getting off the ship. Our advice? The night before an early-morning excursion, order room service. It’s complementary and you won’t get stuck in a long buffet line and risk missing your departure. Better yet, if you have a balcony - you can eat outside as you sail into port. Mediterranean ports make for breathtaking arrivals. Our favorite? Seeing the colorful houses of Villefranche tucked into the hills over morning coffee.

6 - Outsmart Onboard Internet: Bringing your laptop or tablet with you so you can stay in touch? Internet access onboard can be pricey - anywhere from $0.55 per minute and up - so type your emails out in advance before you connect. Then when you are ready to send them, long on and paste in the completed text so you can send all your emails in just a few minutes.

5 - Sightsee in Comfort: Public toilets in Europe are generally well maintained and available in cities and sightseeing areas. The cost of that maintenance is passed on to the user - most toilets will charge a fee (typically a 50 cent piece) for entrance. Make sure to carry coins with you as proper change makes it easier in case they don’t have change!

4 - Dress Appropriately: Going to visit some religious sites? It’s best to dress conservatively then as a matter of respect. Ladies should keep their shoulders and bare legs covered (a light shawl in you purse is a lifesaver!) and men should keep their legs covered as well.

Ferrari

3 - Take Precautions: High concentrations of tourists make prime targets for thieves. Many pickpockets now work in groups with an accomplice to distract you while the thief divests you of your wallet. For peace of mind, carry with you only what money you need that day. If you carry a credit or ATM card, ensure you have another one tucked safely back onboard in your stateroom safe.

2 - Know the Tipping Customs: In Europe, standard service gratuity is not expected by waiters, taxi drivers, maids etc. All those positions earn a fair wage from their employers. When dining at a restaurant, just rounding up the bill with a few coins will be sufficient.

1 - Book Your Excursions in Advance: Popular shore excursions can sell out if you wait to book them while onboard and they are usually expensive with large tour groups. Besides who wants to spend their day waiting in line to book activities? Book in advance with professional tour operators through ShoreFox - with affordable public tours, incredible private tours and amazing experiences you can’t find anywhere else - Ferrari driving anyone? - we guarantee that you will have your best day on shore.

Looking for more in depth information on the ports of call you are going to visit? Check out our complementary Port Reviews available for each port of call - and packed with everything you need to know to make the most of your time ashore.