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Setting sail on a cruise is a real adventure, with an exciting new destination to discover every day and all the comforts of your ship to enjoy, from fine dining to glittering entertainment.

So make the most of your dream vacation with a little advance planning. If your flights, hotels, ground transportation, and activities on board are all in place, you’ll be able to enjoy smooth sailing all the way.

With everything in place before you depart, you’ll have the space to unwind completely, whether you want to soak up the sunshine by the pool, indulge yourself in the spa, or enjoy the spectacular range of dining options on your Celebrity ship. You may even choose to arrive a day in advance, or stay on after your voyage to immerse yourself deeper into the local culture. Follow these expert tips and you’ll soon be embarking on the vacation of a lifetime.


Book through Celebrity for peace of mind

Airplane during sunset

There are several compelling reasons to choose Flights by Celebrity. You’ll enjoy 24/7 backup should anything go wrong. Our Flights by Celebrity℠ Specialists are constantly monitoring your flights and will jump in to help should you experience delays or cancellations.

What’s more, there are savings to be had. Our Lowest Airfare Guarantee* means you’ll get the best value in air travel. If you book with us and find a lower fare within 24 hours of booking, we’ll credit you 110% of the difference to spend onboard your cruise.

What’s more, you won’t have to pay for your flights until you pay the final balance for your cruise. And you can still collect airline miles and points.

Give Yourself Enough Time For Transportation Delays

Celebrity Apex in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Celebrity Apex in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

If you’re booking your flights independently, factor in the time it will take you to get through the airport, onto transportation, and to the port to join your ship. You will have been given an embarkation time, so work back from that. Cutting it too close will only cause you stress, particularly if the flight is late.

The same applies if you’re driving to the port. You’ll be able to pre-book parking, of course, but factor in plenty of time for traffic delays.

Plan flights carefully for disembarkation day at the end of your cruise, too. Your ship will dock early as departure day, also called turnaround day, is busy for the crew.

Normally, disembarkation will start around 8 am. But remember you have to get off the ship, through the terminal to collect your luggage, to the airport, and then check in two hours before your flight. So it makes sense to book an early afternoon or evening flight.

Break up your journey

Sometimes, it can be fun to break up your journey if you’re traveling a very long distance. This means you arrive fresh to board your cruise—and you get an extra vacation in one.

For example, if you’re flying to Australia for a cruise, consider a stopover in either Dubai or Singapore. If you are joining your cruise in Tokyo and are flying from the East Coast, you could stop over in Doha, Qatar, or even Istanbul for a day or two.

Flights to Europe often go through the big gateway airports: Madrid for cruises from Barcelona, or London, Amsterdam, or Paris for onward flights to Athens. These, too, make a great city break before joining your onward flight for the coast.


Extend your stay

Couple exploring the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Colosseum in Rome, Italy

There are many reasons to arrive a day early for your cruise. You reduce the risk of getting tangled in flight delays on the day your cruise departs. You’ll have a chance to get over jet lag. Best of all, you can have a night out and discover the city, and then enjoy a relaxed start the following day.

Staying another night after your cruise is also a great idea. It’s always good to feel that your vacation hasn’t ended when you walk down the gangway for the last time. And you’ll have time to enjoy a city or destination and get to know it in depth.

Family sightseeing from Barcelona, Spain

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

Celebrity can arrange all of this, booking City Stays for you in four- or five-star hotels, including transfers between the ship and hotel and then on to the airport, as well as sightseeing. Packages from one to three nights are available in cities including Rome, Barcelona, London, Athens, and Venice.

Alaska, too, lends itself beautifully to extending your stay. Take a look at Celebrity’s CruiseTours, which enable you to combine the magnificent Denali National Park with your Alaskan cruise. The two experiences complement one another, as you’ll see different scenery and even different wildlife inside the vast expanse of the park.

Select a hotel close to the port

Celebrity Edge in Sydney, Australia

Celebrity Edge in Sydney, Australia

If you’re going it alone for your pre-cruise stay, make sure you know where the port is in relation to your city stay. Sometimes, ports are some distance from the city. Cruises from Tokyo, for example, depart from Yokohama, a 50-minute drive from the city. Cruises from Venice sail from Ravenna, two hours’ journey down the coast.

Check with Celebrity where the ship is going to be docked; some cruise ports are enormous, with multiple terminals in different locations.

Ground Transportation

Book a transfer through Celebrity

Van transfer in Croatia

Celebrity offers shared transfers by coach and private transfers from airport to ship on embarkation and departure days. This is by far the most convenient and reliable option. Just ask your travel advisor to add transfers at the time of booking your cruise.

Of course, if you’re arriving before the cruise or staying on afterward, you will need to make your own arrangements to get to the port, unless you’ve booked a City Stay by Celebrity.

Make the most of your last day

Couple exploring the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Often, intercontinental flights won’t depart till the evening, which will leave a whole day to fill. Why spend this at the airport when you could be out enjoying yourself?

In most ports, Celebrity offers a tour of some kind with a drop-off at the airport for evening flights. This means you don’t have the hassle of dragging your luggage around all day, or storing it—and you know you will be dropped off in time for check-in.

These tours are available in all kinds of ports. In Athens, for example, you could join a tour to the Acropolis before being dropped off at the airport. If your cruise ends in Rome, you could book an excursion through Celebrity that takes you to a country wine estate for a tasting before heading to the airport.

You can enjoy your last day in San Juan, Puerto Rico, too, with a guided tour of colorful Old San Juan that ends at the international airport.

Or you could stay on board and enjoy the facilities of the ship. In several European ports, Celebrity offers an “Extend Your Stay” program, which means you can store your luggage on board and relax by the pool. You’ll be able to use the WiFi, perhaps book a spa treatment, and enjoy a final, unhurried lunch on board. Extend Your Stay is included for guests in Royal Suites or above, and otherwise available to purchase.

Don’t always rely on taxis

Street view in Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Of course, airports are transportation hubs and there will always be taxi drivers willing to take you into the city, or to the port. Just bear in mind that you may need local currency to pay the driver—and ride-hailing isn’t always easy.

Sometimes, the port is a long way from the airport. In Rome, for example, ships sail from Civitavecchia, which is around an hour’s drive from Fiumicino, the main airport, a long way from the city (which is inland).

In Britain, the journey from London’s Heathrow Airport to the port of Southampton will take around 90 minutes. By all means prearrange a private transfer, but in London, in particular, a journey to Southampton in one of the traditional black cabs that wait at the airport will cost an eye-watering amount.

Planning Tips

Check visa requirements

Make sure that your passport has at least six months left before it expires (a legal requirement for many countries) and that you have any necessary visas. Visit to check the requirements for the countries you will be visiting.

Carry local currency

Euro bills


Take some local currency with you for taxis, tips, and incidental expenses. Of course, most airports will have an ATM, but you should have an idea of what exchange rate to expect, especially if you’re flying to a country with an unfamiliar currency. Taxi drivers in Europe or Asia are unlikely to accept U.S. dollars.

Remember your driver’s license

If there’s a likelihood that you will be renting a car during your trip (and remember, this could include an ATV, quad bike, or volunteering to be the designated driver in a jeep during a shore excursion), then bring your driver’s license with you.

Some countries, particularly in Europe, require an International Driver’s Permit if you want to rent a car. So if you’re intent on doing a self-drive excursion somewhere, check and get your permit arranged before you embark on your cruise.

Some Caribbean islands, like Antigua and the British Virgin Islands, will ask you to buy a temporary driving permit if you want to rent a car. This can be organized through the car rental agency on the spot.

Pack your hand luggage carefully

On embarkation day, pack essentials in your carry-on; you will part with your larger suitcases at check-in and they may not be delivered to your stateroom for a few hours.

Carry on medication and paperwork, of course, but also swimwear and sunblock. That way, you can head straight for the pool when you embark.

Read: Essential Cruise Packing Tips

Plan Your Time Onboard

Choose shore excursions

Beautiful waterfront of Mykonos Town, Greece

Mykonos Town, Greece

Pre-booking shore excursions is highly recommended as the most popular tours often sell out. Book ahead and you can plan your days around your time ashore.

A Celebrity shore excursion allows you to make the most of your time in port, with an expert guide to show you all the best places. You can relax, too, in the knowledge that if you’re on one of Celebrity’s excursions and there’s an unforeseen delay, the ship won’t leave without you.

Think a little about how your cruise will unfold. For example, if you’re flying east, you could be jet lagged for the first day or so, in which case, an afternoon activity might be preferable as getting up in the morning is more difficult.

Beautiful waterfront of Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta

Remember, too, not to overschedule. In Europe especially, it’s all too easy to feel you have to check off a bucket list item every day and end up exhausted. Pace yourself with a mix of full and half-day tours and some time to explore independently.

Couple relaxing on a beach in Grenada

Beach in Grenada

In the Caribbean, you’ll almost certainly want to build in some beach days, some of which you might want to book as a tour and others that are easy to plan yourself.

This is even more important if you’re traveling with teens, who are famously difficult to get moving in the mornings. Opt for tours with a later start if you’re going ashore as a family, or in the afternoon.

Of course, you can also book tours on board, but planning ahead is the best way to get your first choice.

Couple hiking in the Galapagos

Hiking in the Galapagos

The Galapagos is an exception as all the activities are included when you sail with Celebrity. Days take on a different rhythm here, with snorkeling, hiking, and Zodiac safaris taking place usually twice a day. You don’t need to do any planning as our expedition leaders arrange everything for you.

Read: Expert Cruise Planning Tips

Pre-book specialty dining

People enjoying food from the Rooftop Garden, Celebrity Ascent

Rooftop Garden, Celebrity Ascent

Once you’ve decided how your days will be spent, think about the evenings. Celebrity’s ships have a wonderful range of specialty dining, which can be pre-booked.

Set the stage; if, for example, you have an evening sailaway from dramatic Santorini, this is the night to plan dinner in the al-fresco Rooftop Garden Grill if you’re on an Edge-series ship, or The Lawn Club Grill on Celebrity Silhouette or Reflection. You’ll get spectacular views of one of those famous fiery sunsets.

If you’ve been exploring some beautiful Italian town all day, you might be in the mood for the Italian classics at the Tuscan Grille. Cruising the Norwegian fjords on an Edge-series ship? Dinner at Eden, with sweeping views of the surrounding scenery, would be perfect, especially in midsummer when the sun barely sets.

You can book all your specialty dining via the Celebrity website, or through the app once you’re onboard.

Plan your spa treatments

Couple enjoying Celebrity Cruises spa

Celebrity Cruises Spa

Spa treatments can also be booked in advance of your cruise. Again, a little planning can make for a much better experience. For example, if you want to look extra-special for the Evening Chic night on board, it’s a good idea to book a hair or nail appointment ahead, as the salon will be busy on a day with a more formal dress code for the evening.

If your idea of bliss is an aromatherapy massage or a luxurious facial, build in time for relaxing afterward in your ship’s thermal suite. For example, you wouldn’t want to rush straight from a heavenly massage to a full-on tour of an archaeological site on a hot day.

Think ahead for overnight port stays

Beautiful skyline of Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

Many of Celebrity’s itineraries overnight in port, which means you’ll have a chance to explore after dark. In Europe, La Spezia is often an overnight stay, as it’s the gateway to both Florence and Pisa. So if you take a tour to Florence that day, you could stay in the city for dinner.

Vietnam and Thailand cruises overnight in Hanoi, a chance to jump ship and join an overnight mini-cruise on a small ship in spectacular Ha Long Bay, with dinner on board and tai chi on deck at sunrise.

A second overnight in Laemchabang, the port for Bangkok, presents another opportunity to pack an overnight bag and leave your ship for a night for a hotel stay in the city center, close to all the nightlife. It’s a vacation within a vacation, as it were.

Read: Invaluable Cruise Tips

Celebrity Edge in Auckland, New Zealand

Celebrity Edge in Auckland, New Zealand

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Free Vacation Planning Services

Free Vacation Planning Services