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 Miami, Fort Lauderdale or beyond, book a shore excursion in your home port to 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 – Wear a Watch: Traveling around the Caribbean islands means that most cruise ships are sailing frequently between different time zones. Each cruise ship’s policies are different as to whether they change to local time or keep their own “ship time”. The best way to avoid any confusion and ensure you are always back on time? Keep your watch set to the ship’s time – there will always be a clock at the gangway – and make a note of the time you need to return to the ship.

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 shore excursion, order room service. It’s complimentary 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.

6 – Outsmart Onboard Internet: Bringing your laptop 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. Then when you are ready to send them, log on and paste in the completed text so you can send all your emails in just a few minutes.

5 – Know Your Caribbean Etiquette: Caribbean islanders are typically polite and courteous, and they expect those with whom they interact to be polite and courteous as well. Smile and say hello, even if you’re just passing others on the street. With the influx of thousands of tourists from cruise ships, proper respect and etiquette go a long way towards forming a good impression.

4 – Be Prepared to Get Wet: Caribbean islanders will joke that there are two seasons: wet and really wet. Tropical showers can be unexpected and intense, so it’s best to pack a light rain slicker or small umbrella with you so that you don’t get rained out.

3 – Get Change: While most of the places you visit won’t use the US Dollar as a formal currency, most of them accept US Dollars for purchases in stores, taxis etc. Get your larger bills exchanged for small ones at the Guest Services desk onboard so that you can easily pay for smaller expenses ashore. This way you won’t incur currency exchange fees and be stuck with foreign currency when you arrive home.

2 – Stay Grounded: While Caribbean islands all have different topography, many feature hills and uneven paths/streets. Wear comfortable, proper footwear when heading out to sightsee so that you can enjoy all your time ashore.

1 – Book Your Shore Excursions in Advance: Popular shore excursions usually sell out if you wait to book them while onboard and they can be very expensive. Besides who wants to spend their day waiting in line to book activities? Book in advance with professional tour operators through ShoreFox – you will save up to 40%, get personal service away from the mass tour buses and enjoy better experiences.

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.