You will find all the things I love to use for traveling and cruising. Please check it out!
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Taking a cruise with your baby or toddler? Are you wondering what to pack? Packing for a cruise with a baby is a challenge for sure! You will want to pack light, but not too light! If you are lucky enough to get to your cruise ship without flying, you will not have any restrictions on the number of bags you can bring. But do you really want to deal with a lot of extra luggage?
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring the items you need! Remember though, cruise cabins are typically smaller than hotel rooms. If you bring too much, your stateroom will feel very cramped and crowded. Be selective and only bring what you will absolutely use.
Below are our recommendations for the top essential travel baby supplies for your next family vacation at sea.
Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!
Heading to a beach destination? A good beach blanket is essential. This one comes with sand anchors and storage pockets too! https://amzn.to/445SnNH
A good carry on bag is essential. We love to use this one, it has spinner wheels and is easy to maneuver. When boarding the ship, be sure to pack swimsuits, sunscreen, all medicines, valuables and your boarding document including passports in it! If your are flying to the port, it also fits under the seat! https://amzn.to/3HFJJfb
Water shoes are an absolute must have item! Protect their feet from rocks, shells, coral, hot sand, etc. https://amzn.to/3HwZh5b
Many cruise lines do not have self-service laundry. Kids are messy! Be prepared to do some laundry in your cabin. https://amzn.to/41JyL0p
https://amzn.to/3VpYt7UYou can hang a shower curtain from the ceiling using these hooks to create a privacy curtain or use them to hang hats, jackets, blankets extra. Walls and ceilings in ship cabins are magnetic! They are available in lots of fun colors too. https://amzn.to/3VpYt7U
This is genius! A refillable roll-on container for sun screen…..why didn’t I think of that? https://amzn.to/3oSTOPl
When it comes to strollers, the smaller and lighter the better. If your usual stroller is bulky, you might want to invest in a smaller, more maneuverable umbrella stroller. These take up much less room in your cabin and can also fit under the bed when not in use. Cabin corridors are also narrow and some areas can be crowded. This lightweight stroller weighs just 13 pounds, has four reclining positions, a large seat area and a large storage basket plus anti-shock front wheels and lockable rear wheels https://amzn.to/3Lx3yaZ
Baggage handlers are notorious for being rough with luggage. Strollers are expensive. There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination with a broken one. This happened to us in London at the beginning of a month long vacation….not the best way to start our trip. We definitely learned the hard way to buy a cover! https://amzn.to/41LsSQ8
Air tags are a must these days. Luggage gets delayed or lost…know where your belongs are! They are also a very good way to find your stroller if it gets moved while traveling….very useful in places like Disney, other amusement parks, malls, etc.! https://amzn.to/3oYeWDS
We use a detachable case on the inside of all my luggage. That way we know it won’t get removed or lost. https://amzn.to/42cFfEG
Believe me…you want to use a luggage tag holder on your luggage. After many sailings with torn off or destroyed tags and bags going missing, we finally invested on these and use them every cruise. These are for Celebrity and Royal Caribbean: https://amzn.to/3LHueG7
Little legs get tired while traveling. With the right equipment, traveling with kids can be a little less chaotic and a lot more fun. The Lugabug travel seat is a fully collapsible suitcase accessory that attaches to your roller bag and converts it into a comfy seat for your little one. Good for ages 2 years and up. https://amzn.to/3LCvk6b
Excursions are easier when you don’t have to worry about a stroller. This wrap keeps baby close and comfy. https://amzn.to/40ETIs5
Cruise lines have a limited number of pack & plays onboard for passenger use. Ships do not provide padding or sheets. We recommend adding a travel one to your packing list. This way, you know your child has a safe and comfortable place to sleep. https://amzn.to/3LaPJh7
Your little one is going to need changing at some point! Be prepared with this portable changing pad. It comes with handy storage pockets and is waterproof. https://amzn.to/3oQdOCt
Diaper bags have come a long way! Dad won’t mind carrying this leather baby diaper bag backpack and it comes with stroller straps too! https://amzn.to/3AxPacg
Most cruise cabins do not have a bath tub and the sinks are very small. An inflatable tub can be very useful! Can be used pool side for some splash time too! https://amzn.to/3ncUFKg
A first aid kit is a 100% necessity! Visits to the ships doctor can be expensive and time consuming. Best to be prepared for the bumps and scrapes that are bound to happen. https://amzn.to/3nimO2z
Of course you will want to buy things in port for your friends, family, little one. Many stores are not providing free bags with purchase in an effort to reduce waste. I take reusable grocery bags. https://amzn.to/409nx3x
Feeding time can be an adventure. Sippy cups, travel bottles, snack cups and baby spoons are very helpful!
Of course, you will need diapers and clothes! Bring at least two clothing changes per day plus sleeping wear. Baby swimsuits and hats to protect those eyes are also important! For the dress up nights onboard, bring something fun for your little one to wear!
Diapers onboard are expensive. If not driving to the port, stop at a store and stock up prior to boarding! Get some swim diapers too but be sure to check with your cruise line to see if they are allowed in the pool. If not, ask if they have an inflatable pool for your little one. Some ships do this!
All the waiting, planning and anticipation is almost over! Before you know it, you will be on board, sipping a tropical drink and waiting for sail away. Woohoo….vacation has begun!!
Hold on though…you may be ready to get onboard, but the crew is busy preparing the ship and disembarking the prior passengers. If this is your first cruise, some things may surprise you. Cruises are different from land vacations and hotel stays. You have to go through the a pier-side check-in process, with special requirements. Check out https://zest4travel.net/2023/03/28/what-cruise-documents-do-you-need-to-board/ for the documents you need to board a ship. And remember, there are many passengers waiting to board a floating city at basically the same time. As with any other secured structure, you can’t walk right onto a ship.
The best way to start your cruise is to arrive at the pier at your assigned check in time. Keep a level head and look forward to good times once your sailing gets underway.
There are a few things you can do to help make embarkation day as easy as possible.
Check that you have the necessary paperwork and documentation
The cruise line will send reminders about what to expect at check-in, including health and safety procedures. It will outline which documents, IDs, QR codes or other electronic receipts you must have ready. Be sure to do as much as you can online prior to arriving at the pier.
It is your responsibility to arrive with the proper documentation. Even though most cruise lines are providing online boarding passes, it might be a good idea to print and bring paper copies of documents as a backup to electronic documents. Again, visit the link in the section above for what the proper documents are that you need to board, such as passport, birth certificate etc.
Arrive at the pier at your scheduled time.
Since the restart of cruising post Covid, in an attempt to decrease crowding at the port, most cruise lines are assigning staggered times to arrive at the pier. If you arrive early, you may have to wait to enter the terminal. This may be outside in the hot sun, without access to water, seating or restrooms. It is best to arrive at the pier as close as possible to your scheduled time. No need to worry if you arrive after your scheduled time….you will be welcomed tin o start the check-in process. You will not be turned away. Word of warning though….everyone MUST be onboard 90 minutes prior to sail away. This is a maritime/port requirement, not the cruise line.
Give your large luggage to the porters to be loaded onto the ship.
When you arrive at the pier, porters will be waiting to take your large suitcases and load them onto the ship. Once they are on the ship, crew members will deliver them to your cabin. Be sure to attach your cruise line proved luggage tags. These tags inform the crew which cabin to deliver them to. I highly recommend using luggage tag holders like this to attach them to your bag. There are different sizes for each cruise line. Be sure to purchase the correct ones…these are for Celebrity/Royal Caribbean https://amzn.to/3mnQlaO
Keep your carry-on bag with you!
Pack your medications, valuables, documents, passport and anything else you will need until your luggage arrives in your cabin. You may want to pack your bathing suit so that you don’t have to wait for your suitcases to arrive before you hit the pool!
MAKE SURE YOUR PASSPORT/ID IS WITH YOU!!!
Be prepared to go through security
You will go through security after entering the cruise terminal. The process is similar to an airport. Your carry-on luggage will be screened and you will walk through a metal detector. You won’t have to take off your shoes but you do have to remove belts, bulky jewelry and clear your pockets. You don’t need to worry about liquid, as there is no size limitation.
Keep your boarding pass available.
You will need this to board the ship. Since many ships are now leaving your sea pass card at your cabin, you will need to scan the boarding pass document when first entering the ship.
Do not try to sneak any banned items onto the ship
All of your luggage will be scanned electronically. Many cruise lines allow passengers to bring a pre-determined amount of wine, soda and/or bottled water onboard at embarkation. Check your cruise lines FAQ for the amount allowed for your cruise. It is very rare that hard spirits or beer is allowed to be brought consumption. If found, it will either be removed from your luggage and held until disembarkation or destroyed. They know to look in hiding places, such as solid water bottles, mouthwash containers, etc. Be sure to carry allowed beverages onboard with you, not as checked luggage. Check with your cruise line for any corkage fee if opened in a bar, lounge or restaurant.
Cruise lines have very specific rules for other banned items. These items include weapons, fireworks, flammable liquids, candles, clothing irons, incense and anything that produces a flame. This also includes anything with a surge protector. We use the one below to provide more outlets in the cabin. Royal Caribbean also bans martial arts gear, baby monitors and extension cords. Carnival bans handcuffs.
Watch the safety video and check in to your muster station.
In the past, everyone on a cruise ship was required to gather on embarkation day at their assigned muster station, listen to a safety briefing and be checked off a list. As a result of COVID-19, most cruise lines have moved to e-muster drills.
You are required to watch a video either on your cabin TV or on the cruise line app. You will learn what to do in the event of a fire or other shipboard emergency. Your TV or app will record that you have watched the video. Most ships are still requiring you to check in with a crew member at your assigned muster station. Those who skip this step will hear their name or cabin number called out over the PA system. If you do not complete the muster station prior to sail away, you will be removed from the ship. This is a Maritime law requirement, not a cruise ship requirement.
I strongly suggest that as soon as you board….go straight to your muster station and check in! The location will be noted on your sea pass card. I can not stress enough how important this is. Once completed, you will not have to think about it again and can enjoy your first day onboard.
Do not expect to be able to go use your cabin right away
Depending on when you arrive, cabins may or may not be completely ready. The crew is may still be working to prepare your cabin after the last cruise. Some cruise lines, such as Celebrity and Holland America, allow you to drop off your carry-on luggage and retrieve your sea pass card, which will be waiting outside your cabin in a sealed enveloped. This will allow you to explore the ship, have lunch, go to the pool, etc. An announcement will be made once cabins are ready.
Head to your cabin when it’s ready
Your cabin steward will stop by to introduce him or her self and will ask if there is anything special you may want or need, such as extra towels, pillows and hangers, or to have the bed arrangement changed from a single to two beds or vice-versa. The steward will also let you know how to reach them should you need anything throughout your cruise. We always have our mini-fridge emptied….this eliminates any chance of errant charges. If you are traveling with friends or family in an adjoining balcony cabin, ask if the divider can be opened. Some times yes, some times no.
Unpack your bags as soon as they arrive. There should be plenty of storage… cabins have lots of hidden areas, look around for them. Most suitcases will fit under the bed and are a good place to store dirty laundry.
Give the crew time to deliver luggage. If it is close to sail away and your bags have not arrived, call you cabin steward and let them know. Bags do get misplaced.
Place your phone in airplane mode and connect to the ship’s wifi if you have an internet package.
Roaming charges onboard are very expensive. You will want to keep your cell phone on airplane mode. In order to keep in touch with those at home, you will either need to purchase an internet package or….follow crew members in port. They know ALL the best places for free wifi! If you need help setting up an internet package, there will be crew members available to help you.
Check out the daily program
All the daily activities will be available on a printed sheet in your cabin and on the ship’s app. Take a look and see what is planned for your first evening shipboard. Go to the sail away party, participate in trivia, dance parties, game show, etc. Visit the spa, jewelry store, art auction….enter the give aways. Explore the ship and get to know the layout.
Sign the kids up for cruise ship camp and make sure they understand the safety procedures
Cruise ships have excellent kids programs. Staff will be on hand to welcome them and show them around the play spaces and hangouts available just for them.
Now is the time to talk to the kids about the danger of climbing on any railings. People do fall off cruise ships….you don’t want this to happen to your family. Remind them that there other passengers on the ship and they need to respect the rules.
Relax, have a drink or two, enjoy dinner….vacation has begun!!
No one likes to think about it, but it’s going to happen….you have to leave the ship.
Disembarkation (or debark) is something cruisers don’t want to think about. It’s a lot more fun to think about things like planning excursions and booking future cruises and NOT think about getting off the ship. But all good things must come to an end and it’s best to be prepared!
What to expect
Cruise lines are fairly similar in their disembarkation procedures. The last morning of your cruise, you will have to disembark and leave what has become your very comfortable home away from home and all your new friends, passengers and crew alike.
Traditional Disembarkation vs Self-Disembarkation
There are two types of disembarkation….regular and self, commonly called self-assist or walk-off.
The process is basically the same, with the main difference being that with self-disembarkation, you are responsible for taking your luggage off the ship. You must be able to walk your own bags off the ship and through the terminal. If you choose to walk off your bags, make sure they are easy to maneuver and don’t over pack. It’s best to not have a lot of luggage to carry off.
What are the Benefits of Self-Disembarkation
You can be in the first group to get off the ship. If you need to leave the cruise port to catch an early flight, or have a long drive ahead, this can be a great option.
You do not need to put luggage out on the last night of your cruise.
The only wait will be for the ship to be cleared by port authorities.
What are the Disadvantages of Self-Disembarkation
You will not receive any help with your luggage. You may need to carry it down several flights of stairs as elevators may be full.
You need to be up very early. Debark will begin as soon as the ship is cleared. This could be as early as 7am.
This is only a good option if everyone is able to handle their own luggage. If you need help or have a lot of luggage, this isn’t the best option. Remember, it’s called self-assist for a reason.
We have done both and there is no right or wrong way. The choice is yours and you can decide what works best for you once onboard.
When time can you expect to leave the ship?
There’s no set time when debark will begin and this will vary by cruise port and by things that are beyond the control of the ship and crew.
The scheduled docking time listed on your cruise itinerary will NOT be the time that you can leave the ship. This is the time the ship is expected to arrive in port. The ship will still need to be cleared by customs of the country you have arrived in and given permission for passengers to debark. Usually this is a fairly quick process, but sometimes it can take longer…maybe several hours. As a general rule, most cruise ships will start the disembarkation process around 7:30-8 am. An announcement will be made once the ship is cleared and passengers can disembark. Wait for your luggage tag number to be called though. Otherwise, you will be waiting in the terminal for your luggage to arrive.
Avoid booking an early flight home
You will need time to leave the ship, get your luggage, clear customs and then time to reach the airport. Some ports, like Fort Lauderdale, as close. …a quick 15 taxi ride. Most are not! There will be taxis waiting outside the terminal but there may be a line for them.
Most cruise lines recommend not booking flights before noon. And if you are taking an International flight, you may need more time at the airport. Be sure to factor in wait times at the airport to drop off luggage and clear security. TSA pre-check can be very helpful!
Remember, even if you CAN make it, it’s possible for your ship to arrive late in port due to weather or other reasons. I was on a ship that was late into port due to mechanical issues and many people missed their flights. Ships have also been late arriving due to weather, such as storms or fog. Galveston and Tampa are well known for fog problems.
If a morning flight is best for you, consider spending the night at a hotel and fly out the following morning. Why add stress to the end of your wonderful vacation?
Your cabin steward will leave printed instructions, along with luggage tags. This will include instructions on what to do with your luggage, as well as some basic customs information. Also included will be a timetable for when luggage numbers will be called the following morning.
Luggage tags and debarkation times
You will receive luggage tags that are numbered according to when you wish to disembark. If this time does not work for you, you can ask your steward for new luggage tags or go to guest relations. They will be happy to change them and is probably faster and easier than asking your cabin steward.
Debarking thousands of passengers within a few hours is quite a process. Cruise lines keep things organized by assigning color coded luggage tags which correspond to certain disembarkation times. As noted above, this timetable will be left in your cabin along with your luggage tags.
What do I do with my luggage?
(Of course, this only applies to regular disembarkation. If you are doing self-assist/walk off, keep you luggage in your cabin.)
On the last night of your cruise, place your luggage outside your cabin door. Generally, bags must be outside by 10pm. The actual time for your sailing will be noted on the instructions. The ship’s crew will be working hard that night placing the luggage in a holding area, so that it can be moved off the ship quickly the next morning. DO NOT miss the deadline! Remember to attach the cruise assigned luggage tags on all your suitcases before you put them in the hallway.
Just like when you got onboard the ship, remember not to pack valuables, medicine, car keys, ID/passports, etc. in your suitcase. Keep those in your carry on bag.
Also, be sure to keep anything you will need overnight and the following morning, such as computers, jewelry, personal toiletries, sleep wear and clothes to wear off the ship the following day. No one wants to walk off in their pajamas! Also keep any phone chargers with you. You don’t want or need a dead phone the next day!
Also…keep your key card with you. You will need it to get off the ship the following morning.
Hint: Either keep a luggage tag or take a photo to remember your color and number!
Verify your cruise account BEFORE you leave the ship
We keep an eye on our cruise account throughout the cruise to make sure there are not any extra charges. We have found some in the past and Guest Relations quickly removes them. If you have any extra nonrefundable onboard credit (NOBC), be sure to use it before the stores close the last night of the cruise. OBC can be used for any purchase onboard except for booking a future cruise.
Many cruise lines are now using apps and you can check your account that way. You can get a printed copy from a machine or at guest services. I recommend getting a printed copy the last full day of the cruise or disembarkation morning if you have time. Or…take a screen shot of the online account the last night as proof.
If you linked a credit card to your shipboard account, you do not need to do anything the morning of debark. The ship will post any final charges directly to your card. If you have chosen to pay off your account in cash, do this early on the final day, as the lines can get long.
If you notice a discrepancy, bring it to the attention of guest services as soon as you can. Once you leave the ship, you are accepting the statement and it’s difficult to dispute any charges.
Fill out crew comment cards
Filling out a comment card highlighting some your favorite crew members is one of the easiest things you can do. It makes a huge difference to those who work so hard. Mention anyone and everyone, even officers and Cruise Director staff. It is the comments by passengers that help the crew members receive promotions and special recognition. The comment cards submitted on the ship go directly to the Hotel Director.
You will also receive an online survey after you return home. Be sure to fill this out. I can not stress enough how important this is. If something was wrong, they can’t fix it if they don’t know about it. And again….mention any crew member who helped make your sailing memorable. The survey comments are seen by shoreside staff and also the ship officers and directors/managers.
Book a future cruise on-board
Cruise lines offer advantages to planning a future cruise onboard. You will generally receive a reduced deposit and additional OBC according to the cabin level you book.
Most cruise lines offer a Future Cruise booking opportunity. You can fill out a form with your name, cabin number and email. The Future Cruise staff will automically make a booking for you, which you can then use to book a cruise in the future. Each line has a different time requirement for making the new booking, so be sure to note that. I have seen anywhere from 3 months to 1 year in which to book the new cruise. Also, if you booked using a travel agent (TA), you can request that the booking go directly to them.
Hint: Do this as early as possible in your cruise. Don’t wait until the last night!
Breakfast will be available but with reduced hours and sometimes reduced food options. Be sure to get something to eat before you leave the ship though. It’s never a good idea to start traveling on an empty stomach!
Check, double check and then TRIPLE check your cabin for items. Check all drawers, the bathroom, the SAFE, the closet and under the bed!!! You do not want to leave anything behind. If you do, contact the cruise line and they will do everything they can to reunite you with your possessions, but there are no guarantees. Why take the chance….check, check, and check again!
Public areas will be crowded, as cabins must be vacated early. If you have a special lounge or area to wait in, go and enjoy it! Your disembarkation information sheet will have the time noted. Do your best to honor that time frame. Your cabin steward will be working hard to prepare the cabin for the next sailing.
Be kind to all crew members assisting with disembarkation. Many of them worked late the night before and then had to be up early to help with debark. If something is wrong, they will do their best to help with the problem. But if the ship is late into port or debark is late starting, that is out of their control.
Be sure your key card and passport/identification are easily accessible. You will need your key card to exit the ship and passport/ID to clear customs.
Hopefully, you have had a wonderful cruise and have made many new memories. We hope to see you onboard again soon!!
Cruise documents…what are they and which ones you need? To help you avoid any major mishaps, let’s walk through the basics and touch on some additional items you might want to bring along just in case.
Boarding a cruise ship is different from boarding a domestic plane flight. Because cruises involve international travel, you won’t be allowed to sail if you don’t have the proper documents and identification. Therefore, you will want to know EXACTLY what to take with you. And then double and triple check your list to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything.
The check-in process can be intimidating if you have never done it before. To make it easier, let’s explore exactly what cruise documents are, which ones you need and how you obtain them. With this information in hand, you will be all set for a successful and stress-free embarkation day.
What are cruise documents?
Necessary cruise documents include acceptable official forms of identification and your boarding pass. If you are visiting countries that require visas, you must also have those with you. These items must be presented upon arrival at the port.
After port officials check and verify each these documents at the terminal, will you be permitted to board your ship.
Many cruise lines are now providing online boarding passes. Take a screen shot or add it to your wallet on your phone for easy access. At a time when eco-friendliness is top of mind and nearly every traveler has a mobile phone, it’s easy to rely on apps to keep everything in one spot and avoid wasting paper. But…what would happen if your phone was lost, stolen or broken during your travels? For this reason, I always advise printing hard copies of anything you might need in a pinch. Try to use as little paper as possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
ALWAYS…..pack all necessary travel documents in your carry-on luggage in an easy to access place. Also, be sure to carry on any medications and valuables, such as jewelry, car keys, glasses, etc.
Documents needed for cruisers to board a ship
For most cruises, you’ll need a passport book that’s valid for at least six months from the day your sailing ends. In some cases, you can use a passport card instead of a passport book. This will only work if you are re-entering the United States via your ship from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda or the Caribbean.
If your cruise is a closed-loop voyage, according to U.S. Customs & Border Protection, you can embark with an Enhanced Driver’s License, which is a state-issued driver’s license that provides proof of identity and U.S. citizenship; a government-issued birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department in the state where the person was born) or passport; and if 16 or older, a government-issued driver’s license or picture ID denoting photo, name, and date of birth. To qualify as a closed-loop cruise, the places these itineraries can include must be contiguous territories of the United States. That includes Mexico and Canada, because both share land borders with the U.S., and several of the islands of the Caribbean.
The Enhanced Driver’s License allows you to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean and is valid at land and sea border crossing but not airports. So, if you are boarding in Alaska and flying home from Vancouver, a passport card will not work.
NEXUS card. If you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you may use a NEXUS or FAST Trusted Traveler Card for closed loop cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean and Bahamas, Pacific Coast, Canada, and the Panama Canal. For cruises to Europe and Transatlantic sailings, a passport is still required for travel.
Different documentation is acceptable for minors under 16, including an original, notarized, or certified copy of their birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization. Voter registration cards and Social Security cards are not considered proof of citizenship, nor are school ID’s.
If you do choose to take advantage of this opportunity to travel without a passport, there are a couple of warnings to keep in mind. If something goes wrong and you have to return to the U.S. by air, you will need a passport to board a flight.
Also, if you miss the ship in one of the ports, you will have to make your own way home or to catch up with the cruise, which would be difficult without a passport.
Additionally, if you are a U.S. permanent resident, you must carry your green card. You can use it instead of a passport on closed-loop sailings, but carrying a passport from your country of citizenship is highly recommended. Also note that if your green card is expired, you likely will not be allowed back into the U.S. You are responsible for contacting the embassies in the places you’ll be visiting to make sure there is no additional paperwork required.
Just like a flight, a cruise boarding pass is the document that shows you’ve checked in for your sailing, set up an onboard account for purchases and chosen a boarding time. It will also includes important information like your name, booking number, cabin number and any packages you may have booked with or purchased, such as a beverage package.
Most cruise lines are now using mobile apps that allow you to check in prior to arriving at the terminal. If you don’t plan on using the app, be sure to arrive with a printed copy of your boarding pass….having one will speed up the check-in process on boarding day.
If , for some reason you arrive without a boarding pass, don’t worry. The port personal can look up your reservation in the system when you arrive, it will just add a little extra time before you can board your ship and begin your vacation.
Cruise lines have required passengers to fill out health forms before boarding in an effort to prevent the spread of norovirus on board for many years. This used to be a paper form you filled out in the terminal at check-in. Now, with the use of mobile apps, this can be done online approx. 24 hours prior to embarkation. It is a few simple questions asking if you have been experiencing any sickness symptoms or are over 23 weeks pregnant.
Most cruise lines have removed the COVID-19 vaccination mandates, such as providing proof of a current vaccine and/or a Covid test. However, things can change, so check with your cruise line for current protocols. There are still also a handful of countries requiring Covid testing prior to boarding, so be sure to verify with your cruise line if this is necessary.
Likewise, check to see if any of the destinations you’re visiting requires specific inoculations for entry; if they do, carry proof that you’ve received them.
Visas and other destination-specific documents
Some destinations require visas or other documents that grant you permission to enter and stay in a specific country or region. It is the passengers responsibility to know when you need to apply for a visa, how much it will cost you and how much time you need to allow for processing.
Occasionally, your cruise line will take care of visa procurement on passengers’ behalf and cover any associated fees. Check the official websites of the countries on your itinerary to see what’s required and contact your cruise line directly to ask if they take care of applying for you. Keep all required documents with you for your trip. Another good source of information are online cruise forums. Check Facebook for one that applies to your cruise or cruise line. Other cruisers love to help!
Cruise line luggage tags
When you arrive at the port, you can drop off your luggage with porters who will make sure it is loaded onto the ship. Make sure to print out the paper luggage tags provided by your cruise line when you receive your check-in documents. The tags are prefilled with information like your name and cabin number, so the crew knows where to deliver your your luggage. We have been using luggage tag holders after having them accidentally torn off during loading. These are for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships. Other cruise lines are also available. https://amzn.to/3JVb90S
If you’re driving to your embarkation port, you can attach the tags before you leave home. If you’re flying in, attach them after you land to ensure the airline baggage handlers don’t remove them.
If you arrive at the port without them, don’t panic. The porters have them ready to fill out and will attach them.
Permission to travel
If you’re pregnant, you must disclose this and some cruise lines require you to provide a note from your doctor verifying your due date and that you’re fit to travel. No cruise line will allow you to sail if you are more than 23 weeks at embarkation.
If you are planning to travel with someone else’s kids and they won’t have a parent or guardian on the cruise, you will need a notarized letter granting you permission to take them out of the country and consent to medical care on their behalf in the event of an emergency. It is a good idea to have a similar letter handy for your own children if you will be traveling with them alone and their last name does not match yours. If you are unable to obtain a notarized letter from the other parent or parents, you need to have court provided documents granting you custody. This is becoming more and more important, as cruise lines and airlines are really cracking down on child trafficking.
Useful information to carry while cruising
Other travel information
Are you flying in for your cruise, flying home after or staying at a hotel prior to or after your cruise? It is important to have information like airline confirmations, hotel reservations numbers and address and flight information. Be sure to screenshot your flight boarding passes or save to your phone wallet after check-in. I like to make a master list of all important reservations and print it out in case something happens to my phone.
If something goes wrong while traveling, you will want to carry a printed list of emergency contacts and their phone numbers, as well as contact numbers for your doctor, credit card companies and bank, and the local embassies or consulates for the countries you’re visiting. And only carry the credit cards/debit cards you plan to use while traveling!
Having these handy ensures you will know what to do if you have an emergency, lose your passport or find a hold on your travel funds.
Travel insurance information
Travel insurance has become a non-negotiable item. The return to travel has been fraught with problems and travel insurance helps you navigate any problem should one should arise. Print out and carry the policy card listing your policy number and the phone number of the insurance company. If your trip is interrupted or canceled, or you experience a medical emergency, you will have quick access to the key information so you can get help immediately.
Copies of important documents
You should always protect your personal documents and only take them with you when necessary. Make copies of the information page of your passport or passport card, the front and back of your driver’s license and birth certificate (if using it for a closed-loop voyage), and the front and back of each credit card. Keep them in a safe place, separate from the originals. You can also take photographs and keep them in a separate location on your phone. These copies won’t replace the real things, but they could help to speed up the process if you have to procure replacements. When you are in your hotel room or cruise cabin, place them in the safe. In some countries, the ship will keep your passport so that the authorities in port can easily check all passengers passport prior to disembarkation. The ship will provide you with a receipt for your passport which you will need to retrieve it.
These holders are useful for organizing all your important travel documents.
Cruise documents provide the verification you’ll need to board the ship on embarkation day. They include identification, boarding passes, health forms and any required visas, which you should always keep handy in your carry-on bag or personal item.
You’ll need to keep track of several documents, but if you plan ahead and follow the list above, you should have no problem ensuring you have everything you’ll need for a successful and seamless boarding experience.
Cruising with Celebrity really does have its benefits. When you join the Captain’s Club, you will enjoy an array of cruise rewards. The more you sail, the greater the rewards. You’ll earn points on every sailing, according to the cabin level you book. Enjoy discounts, special offers and perks. All this adds up to an even more incredible cruise vacation experience. You will receive spa discounts, complimentary laundry service, stateroom upgrades, access to exclusive voyages and exciting cruise club events while on board. Loyalty members also receive personal invitations to members-only events which happen on sailings throughout the world. All you have to do is join the cruise loyalty program and start earning points!
Preview Members receive complimentary access to the Captain’s Club Loyalty Desk service center and a Captain’s Club newsletter with the latest program news and information.
2-149 Club Points
Classic members receive complimentary access to the Welcome Event. You will also received savings on exclusive onboard premium offers.
150-299 Club Points
Select member enjoy all the benefits of a Classic member, plus discounted spa and laundry service specials.
300-749 Club Points
Elite members receive even more rewards, including complimentary laundry services, spa benefits and complimentary Captain’s Club cocktail hour each evening from 5pm-7pm (other than embarkation day) at most bars throughout the ship.
750-2999 Club Points
Elite Plus members receive with greater benefits including discounts on specialty dining, 2 bags of complimentary laundry and much more.
3000+ Club Points
The highest level Captain’s Club membership – Zenith – is designed exclusively for the most loyal guests, offering quality benefits and perks such as a complimentary premium beverage package, complimentary premium wifi and complimentary laundry.
The link below will below provides a comprehensive list of all loyalty levels and what is included.
How do I earn those points?
2 Club Points Per Night
Inside & Ocean View
These comfortable staterooms come with tasteful amenities and a sitting area where you can kick back and relax. Ocean View Staterooms offer large windows with spectacular views.
3 Club Points Per Night
Veranda & Infinite Veranda
Enjoy your private sanctuary to watch the world sail by. Relax in the your comfortable cabin or step outside to linger over morning coffee or marvel at stunning sunsets.
You can experience dedicated, personal service in Concierge Class staterooms or make every day a spa day when you book our AquaClass® staterooms. You will also enjoy premium cabin location throughout the ship.
8 Club Points Per Night
Sky Suite & Aqua Sky Suite
with the luxury of personal butler service and in-suite lunch and dinner service plus in-suite coffee drinks from Café al Bacio, you may never want to leave!
12 Club Points Per Night
Celebrity, Signature, Sunset & Royal Suite
Live the suite life with exclusive services and access to private areas reserved for guests of The Retreat only. You have access to the private restaurant, Luminae. Feel free to unwind in an exclusive lounge and receive elevated in-room services and more.
18 Club Points Per Night
Reflection, Penthouse & Edge Villa
Indulge in the ultimate luxury experience. These suites include the private restaurant Luminae and lounge access, a butler and other special touches you’ll only find when you sail with Celebrity.
24 Club Points Per Night
These amazing suites are positioned high above the bridge and offer panoramic views from front to back. And with over 2,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor opulence, Iconic Suites are also the most luxurious and largest in our fleet and are only available on Edge class ships.
Does Celebrity have reciprocity with Royal Caribbean?
Of course they do! The Loyalty Match program allows you to enjoy membership benefits across the Royal Caribbean Group brands….Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean. This shared status gives you access to unique benefits across both brands. Find your Captain’s Club tier below and discover your Crown & Anchor Society Loyalty Match. Call the Captain’s Club to have this added to your sailing. 1-844-418-6824
Loyalty Match is not recognized for Preview, Classic, Pre-Gold and Gold Tiers.
Elite Plus, Zenith, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle cannot be reached via Loyalty Match.
Points are only earned for the brand sailed on.
All points earned will be reflected after you’ve completed your sailing.
Nassau, Bahamas is a beautiful destination for anyone looking for a tropical paradise and is a popular port for cruise ships. It is known for its dazzling turquoise waters, white sand beaches and year-round sunshine.
But what is there to do?
Many people are intimidated when they first arrive and depart the ship. The current gateway is under construction and is rather crowded and confusing. There are also tour vendors actively pushing their tours, along with taxi drivers asking if you want a private tour or transfer to one of the many beaches. Don’t let them scare you off….walk past them and into the town. Just be careful of the busy road. And be mindful of your belongings….as is common in many tourist locations, there are pickpockets around.
Downtown Nassau has the usual shopping opportunities….beach wear, local souvenirs and the typical jewelry stores. It is only a few blocks long, so it doesn’t take much time to explore it.
Want to do a walking tour? You have many options to choose from. There are culinary tours, rum tasting, bike tours or self-guided walking tours.
Be sure to visit the Queen’s Staircase, commonly referred to as the 66 steps. This is a major landmark that is located in the Fort Fincastle Historic Complex in Nassau. It was hewn out of solid limestone rock by slaves between 1793 and 1794 and is said to have provided a direct route from Fort Fincastle to Nassau City. These steps were later named in honour of Queen Victoria, who reigned in Britain for 64 years from 1837 to 1901.
Visit John Watling’s distillery if you like rum! John Watling’s Distillery, home to JOHN WATLING’S rum, offers complimentary tours at its home, the Buena Vista Estate, in Downtown Nassau. The historic Estate was founded in 1789 and overlooks the harbour.
At the Estate, John Watling’s features a free production and museum-like tour, shopping and signature Bahamian cocktails at its tavern. It is within walking distance from the cruise ship port in Downtown Nassau. John Watling’s Distillery is located on Delancy Street and is open from 10am-6pm, seven days a week (except for National Holidays).
One of the most popular destinations for tourists is Atlantis Paradise Island, an ocean-themed resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It is built around Aquaventure, a 62-hectare waterscape. You can purchase the excursion through the cruise ship or at the port. You can also just go and walk around the resort, visit the casino, shops and dining options.
How do you get to Atlantis? You can either take a taxis or the ferry. Taxis are available at the cruise port – $4 per person. You can also take a ferry from Prince George Wharf to Paradise Island – $4 per person and run every half hour. Be sure to keep your eye on the time, as you don’t want to miss the ship!
Enjoy your time in Nassau. Remember to take sunscreen, water and a hat with you! And wear comfortable walking shoes.
For more, check out the YouTube of our son and daughter-in-law. Follow Maddie and Ryan for more adventures at sea and on land.
You’ve booked your dream cruise to the Caribbean. Now the big questions…what to pack!
While you might think all you need to throw into your suitcase is a couple of swimsuits and a pair of sandals, there are many other things to consider.
A Caribbean cruise vacation offers so much more than just pristine beaches…though there are plenty of those too! Different islands offer different types of excursions…. relaxing beach days to zip-lining over treetops, hikes up mountains, diving/snorkeling and catamarans.
Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you!
If you’re planning on participating in any of these activities during your cruise, you’ll want to make sure to bring along the appropriate activewear and shoes. Good walking shoes are a must. Also, beach footwear is essential. Water shoes are highly recommended….many beaches are rocky or have coral. I’ve been using these and find them very comfortable and easy to use. https://amzn.to/3C4Ux3c
Comfortable sandals are a must have item. I have found a pair that are made for women, by women. The fit is perfect and they have great support. They can also stand up to the occasional rain showers that are so common in the Caribbean.https://amzn.to/3k7GJQr
No matter how long your vacation, there are many accessories and items you might not consider important, but that actually go a long way in making your cruise as comfortable as possible. You can find a good list of items here: https://wordpress.com/post/zest4travel.net/2211
Here is a quick list of things to not forget:
Swim suit! Nothing worse than arriving onboard and realizing you forgot to pack one!
Shorts and t-shirts are great for daytime. I wear skorts, as I don’t like shorts. Capris or leggings are also a good choice. Most important, be comfortable!
For evenings onboard, dresses or skirts are a great option or nicer slacks. On formal nights, I love wearing something sparkly….it’s the only chance I get to really dress up!
A light weight sweater or wrap is a good idea to pack. The ship can be cool at night.
Don’t forget to add a good hat to your packing. This will protect your face from the sun. These are the ones I use:
If you like going to the pool or the beach, keeping your towel on the chair can be challenging. I found towel band or clips to be really useful and always have them packed and ready to add to the suitcase!
Ships have limited places to plug in your phone, computer, tablet etc. I recently discovered this charging device and have found it to be a lifesaver. Make sure to choose one that is non-surge protected, otherwise it will be confiscated at embarkation. https://amzn.to/3QyiipE
There is no need to pack beach towels, shampoo/conditioner, soap etc. Those will all be provided by the ship in your cabin. Do not pack irons or steamers…those are not allowed onboard. Downey wrinkle release has worked very well for us in the past. https://amzn.to/3UFVyqs
After many cruises and finally having luggage go missing after boarding, we have started using these luggage tag holders. No more ripped off luggage tags for us! https://amzn.to/3QvoHlt
Many stores are not providing free bags with purchase in an effort to reduce waste. I take reusable grocery bags. https://amzn.to/409nx3x
Enjoy your cruise vacation….explore the islands, visit the beaches and relax!
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What are the differences between the beverage packages onboard Celebrity Cruises? Is it worth it to upgrade? How much does it cost? What other packages are available? These are very common questions and I will do my best to provide quick and easy answers.
You can choose from an array of beers, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks and wines by the glass up to $10 per serving. This package also includes a 15% discount on all wines by the bottle. This package will cover coffee and tea at Cafe al Bacio, bottled water and sodas. Most drinks at the Martini Bar, World Class bar are outside this package, as are most drinks in Eden. And remember…the minibar in your cabin is not included in any package!
$89 per person per day
There will be a discounted price available online in your cruise planner if purchased prior to sailing. It is usually a 7% discount, with occasional promotions.
If you are purchasing this package and not just upgrading and you are a Captain’s Club member, you will receive a discount according to your level. Classic and Select members receive a 10% discount, Elite receive a 15% discount and Elite Plus receive a 20% discount. Zenith members receive a complimentary premium package.
With this package, you will receive all classic package items, PLUS: Specialty coffees & teas, craft & artisan beers, spirits, cocktails, frozen drinks, premium bottled water and wines by the glass up to $17 per serving. Also take a 20% discount off all bottles of wine! And again, cabin minibar is NOT included!
$109 per person per day
There will be a discounted price available online in your cruise planner if purchased prior to sailing. It is usually a 7% discount, with occasional promotions.
If you are purchasing this package and not just upgrading and you are a Captain’s Club member, you will receive a discount according to your level. Classic and Select members receive a 10% discount, Elite receive a 15% discount and Elite Plus receive a 20% discount. Zenith members receive a complimentary premium package.
Can I upgrade from Classic to Premium? What is the cost?
Yes, of course you can upgrade! By upgrading to the Premium Package, you can start your day with fresh-squeezed juice and a premium coffee, sip only top shelf by the pool, and enjoy champagne toasts anytime you want. This package also entitles you to enjoy a 20% discount on wines by the bottle and drinks up to $17 ($20 for sailings departing from UK and AUS ports).
The current cost to upgrade is $20/day plus the 20% gratuity, which totals $24/person/day. If upgrading prior to sailing, there will be a 5% savings or $18.99/day (per the website). We have done the math on previous cruises and the upgrade always pays itself off within the first few days. Remember, this covers WAY more than just alcohol! Fresh squeezed juice in the morning and premium bottles of water are worth it just by themselves! I’m not a water snob, but those aluminum cans they are currently using are dangerous! I’ve cut my hand several times trying to open them.
If you are a Captain’s Club member, you will receive a discount according to your level. Currently, for US passengers, you must call in prior to sailing to receive this discount. They are in the process of providing this upgrade option online but it has not been fully rolled out yet. Otherwise, you can upgrade at any bar onboard at any time during your cruise, but you will not receive the discount.
Classic and Select members receive a 10% discount, Elite and Elite Plus receive a 15% discount and Zenith members receive a complimentary premium package. If you are calling from the US or Canada, the phone number is 800-722-5941 and from the UK 0800 240 4323. Other country phone numbers can be found in “Manage My Reservation” on the Celebrity website.
If you decide to NOT upgrade, when you purchase a drink outside of the package, you will be charged the difference in price, plus the 20% gratuity.
Remember….you MUST upgrade prior to sailing in order to receive this discount!
Zero Proof Package
Refresh with premium bottled water from Evian, Perrier, San Pellegrino, & Panna, Specialty Coffees & Organic Teas, Red Bull Energy Drink, Frozen Smoothies, Zero Proof Cocktails, Coca-Cola selections, offerings from Vitamin Water, and Bottled Iced Teas.
$30 per person per day
There will be a discounted price available online in your cruise planner if purchased prior to sailing. It is usually a 5% discount, with occasional promotions.
Wines by the Bottle Packages
These packages are currently not available to book pre-cruise.
PREMIUM WINES BY THE BOTTLE PACKAGE – (3, 5 or 7 bottle selections)
Choose from a selection of excellent wines including a medium to full-bodied Sancerre, Jacques Dumont, France to a bold, yet elegant Crianza, Palacios Remondo, ‘La Montesa’, Spain and much more. When purchasing Wines by the Bottle Package, your wine bottle follows you. Knowledgeable sommeliers deliver your bottle to any venue on board, including your stateroom. All wines will be poured in the highest quality Riedel glasses.
CLASSIC WINES BY THE BOTTLE PACKAGE – (3, 5 or 7 bottle selections)
Choose from an array of wines ranging from a medium-bodied Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay, Australia to a sturdy, flavorful Cabernet Sauvignon, Beringer, ‘Founders’ Estate’, California, and many more. When purchasing Wines by the Bottle Package, your wine bottle follows you. Knowledgeable sommeliers deliver your bottle to any venue on board, including your stateroom. All wines will be poured in the highest quality Riedel glasses.
*Wines from a pre-selected wine list.†Select vintage wines may require additional fee.
Are drink packages worth it?
A cappuccino or specialty coffee from Cafe al Bacio starts at $5. Various beers start at $6 or $7 at most onboard bars, with special offers for buckets. A glass of wine starts at $9….and that’s just the starting point.
Since the Classic Package starts at $89 per day, if you order a morning coffee, an orange juice, two beers at the pool, and a glass of wine or two with dinner for yourself, you’re already paying almost half of the daily fee when you could easily take advantage of an unlimited selection per day of beers, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks, and wines by the glass, and get 15% off all wines by the bottle with a beverage package. Add in an after dinner beverage or two and you are well on your way to saving money! Not to mention an afternoon coffee or tea and the numerous bottles of water you should be drinking during the day!
Ultimately, the guests who find cruise drink packages the most worthwhile are those who don’t want to worry about getting an unexpected bill at the end of the cruise. The convenience of knowing that your drinks are already paid for can help you relax into your well-deserved vacation.
Passengers can also take two bottles of wine per guest (over 21 if embarking in the US or Puerto Rico) onboard at embarkation. The bottles MUST be in your carry-on bags. It’s smart to protect those bottles from breakage.
Celebrity Cruises offers a wide variety of beverages on their ships. They serve Coca-Cola® products but allow guests to carry on any non-alcoholic drink of their preference, including bottled water, even if that particular selection is also offered on board. Non-alcoholic beverages may not exceed 12 standard cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Guests are only permitted to bring aboard what they are able to personally hand-carry onto the ship. It can not be in checked luggage. Please note that any personal beverages you bring aboard must be stored in your stateroom. Your room’s minibar can hold a very limited number of items and is only a cooler, not a refrigerator.
In terms of alcoholic drinks, on embarkation day, guests are allowed to bring a maximum of two bottles of wine or champagne with them per guest. No other alcoholic beverages are permitted to be carried on. Remember, there is a $25.00-per-bottle corkage fee for guests who choose to consume this alcohol in any of the ship’s bars, lounges, or restaurants. This corkage fee does not apply to those who have a Classic or Premium Beverage Package.
All information has been taken directly from the Celebrity website and is accurate as of December 19, 2022. Prices can (and do!) change, so be sure to check current costs.
Bonaire is one of three islands that make up the catchy nickname: the ABC islands. This colorful Netherlands Antilles archipelago lies 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela and is comfortably outside the Caribbean’s hurricane belt.
Bonaire is laid-back by design. Large chain hotels have been kept out and eco-preservation has been enforced since the 1970’s, making this some of the best dive and snorkeling sites in the world. The island’s relaxed and slow pace helps maintain the island’s chief attributes…its national park and pristine wilderness, both above and below the surface. This is the place for adventure sports: diving, caving, sea kayaking, mountain biking, wind surfing, and cliff jumping, to name just a few. Bonaire continues to be recognized as one of the top destinations worldwide for its sustainable tourism.
The culture contains layers of Amerindian, Spanish, African, Dutch and British influences. You will hear traces of these languages (plus some French and Portuguese) during any conversation in Papiamento, the creole language spoken. Try using a few key phrases: por fabor, danki, and bon dia—all of which mean exactly what you think they do!
Renting a golf cart is a popular activity. This is a fun and easy way to explore the island at your own pace. Be sure to reserve early….they sell out quickly! https://www.bonairecruisers.com
Visit the donkey sanctuary, take a trip to the salt flats, view the flamingos or just hit the beach. Be sure to keep an eye out for the donkeys…they were brought to Bonaire by the Spanish in the 17th century for transportation. When modern vehicles (like pushcarts) became available , donkeys were no longer needed and were left to their own fate.
Since 1993 injured, sick and orphaned donkeys have been cared for in a shelter, called the Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire. Volunteers take care over 400 donkeys in an enclosed area. The shelter is open to visitors and is located south of the airport on the Kaya Ir.R. Statius van Eps. https://www.donkeysanctuary.org/?lang=en
Reduce your speed when you approach a donkey. They may cross the street unexpectedly.
The south end of the island is host to the famous salt flats & mounts. As you drive along south road, you will notice the different colors of the water, turning into an intense pink color. Cargill has been operating here since 1997 and produces some of the purest salts in the world. Depending on the grade of salt, it is used for water softeners, the chemical industry or food production. You can learn more about the Bonaire salt on a tour, either through your ship or booked independently
The Salt pyramids of Bonaire can be seen when arriving either by sea or by air, each one is roughly 50-feet high and contains approximately 10,000 metric tons of 99.6% pure salt.
The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary is one of only four areas in the world where Flamingos breed. Pekelmeer means “salt lake” in Dutch. The pools appear pink against the white salt flats because of an abundance of tiny rosy brine shrimp that live in the water. This is also how the birds get their pink color…eating the shrimp! The Sanctuary is located on the vast salt pans at the southern end of the island and is home to over ten thousand flamingos. Tourists are not allowed in the sanctuary, but the birds can be watched with binoculars from the road or nearby Pink Beach. Please take care to not frighten them….once they fly away, they will never return. https://www.tourismbonaire.com/sightseeing/pekelmeer-flamingo-sanctuary
Bonaire has over 22 beaches. On Bonaire and its sister island Klein Bonaire, the sands of some beaches are soft and blindingly white, while others are coarser and darker due to the high content of crushed shells and coral. Beach condition is intrinsically tied to the health of those reefs. You can help by taking your plastics and trash back with you, leaving the shells where they lie (they might be a home for hermit crabs) and wearing eco-friendly sunscreen. Every little bit helps to keep the sands clean for future generations to enjoy.
Be sure to pick up a Bonaire Island Map to find many sandy beaches and coves to explore and enjoy. Watch for the bright yellow stone markers painted with the site name along the coastal roads. They make it easy to find a great beach for sun bathing, strolling or snorkeling and diving.
Did you know that Bonaire has a distillery? The Cadushy Distillery was founded on March 7th, 2009 by the Gietman family and grew from a small start-up to a thriving company. They created something you would have never imagined…..excellent liqueur made out of cactus! Cadushy of Bonaire liqueur is based on the traditions of Bonaire. Lime has been used as a thirst satisfier for centuries and cactus has been an ingredient in the traditional kitchen. Be sure to stop and try some. https://www.cadushy.com
Enjoy your visit to Bonaire…..and island unlike any other in the Caribbean.
And if you didn’t watch the video already….please watch it!