Bahamas, a country with 700 islands and thousands of islets and wonderful caves, is among the most popular destinations for Atlantic cruises. This is because The Bahamas is truly a beautiful country that amazes both travelers and scientists alike, especially when it comes to exploring the famous “Blue Holes”.
More than 4 million tourists enter the Bahamas each year, mostly via cruise ships. It is really fun and enjoyable to visit the Commonwealth of the Bahamas aboard a luxury cruise ship as travels like this are typically accompanied by parties, celebrations and other tourist activities on board.
Like any type of international travel, going on a cruise to the Bahamas will require travelers to prepare adequately. Below are the eight important things one should do before booking a cruise to the Bahamas.
1. Obtain a passport. Upon entry onto the cruise vessel, passengers will be required to present their valid passport. Usually, cruise trips consist of visits to more than one country. Hence, Bahamas also require a passport for entry. Passports can be obtained from your country of origin’s governmental passport office. US citizens aged 16 and above will be required to present a valid passport or a passport card while those aged 15 years old and under will be required to present an original state issued birth certificate from the US Department of Health and Vital Statistics if a passport is not available. Copies of the birth certificate (photocopy) are not accepted. It is advisable to prepare a passport and an original birth certificate for each traveler.
2. Obtain a visa. Visa is not required for US and Canadian citizens. However, if you’re from outside the United States or Canada, you may need a multiple-entry US visa and if necessary, a Bahamian visa (better check with the Bahamian consulate to make sure). Foreign students studying in the United States traveling with a US visa must also present a valid SEVIS to travel.
3. Prepare a valid ID. Aside from a passport and a visa, travelers may be required to present a valid government-issued identification card.
4. Prepare other documentations as proof of citizenship. Naturalization papers may not be accepted by the cruise line. Lawful US resident aliens may be required to present their valid resident card. Students will also need to secure a completed I94 form as well as a valid signed paperwork from the school. All documentations must be original copies.
5. Book your cruise trip. It is best to book your trip at least 3 months prior to your travel date to make sure you are still getting the best price for the tickets. Remember that the fares tend to increase in price as the travel date approaches and the number of available tickets decreases. You can opt to call your trusted travel agent to help you find the best deals for cruises or just go to a reputable online DIY (do-it-yourself) travel booking site. Majority of travelers use online travel booking sites because customers are given full control when it comes to building their own trip. There are hundreds of online travel sites in the worldwide web and most of them are owned by independent travel agents or individual affiliates of travel agencies. It is advisable to use the websites of travel agencies that already have a solid experience in the industry because these companies have contact centers with experienced and highly trained specialists ready to assist you should you need help on things related to your travel. Reputable sites and travel agencies also choose their partner travel supplier carefully. You can be sure that you will not be referred to “shadowy” deal providers and suppliers.
6. Inform the cruise line if you need special assistance. Upon booking your cruise reservations, it is advisable to specify any special assistance needed. DIY travel sites often have a designated field (often the “remarks” field) in their booking forms for special assistance requests such as adapted armchairs, elevator and access ramps, adapted toilets in the communal areas, and wheelchairs. Upon check-in, reconfirm with the cruise line if your request has been noted.
7. Get a travel insurance coverage. Travel insurance is a vital addition to any type of travel. About 70% of cruisers buy travel insurance for three main reasons: peace of mind, concern over losing the money invested in a trip, and protection against unexpected situations.
8. Pack your luggage. Check the baggage requirements of the cruise line. Some cruise lines may charge fees if you exceed the dimension or weight limit of the baggage. Make sure that you comply with any applicable regulations, laws and conditions of the cruise lines and the ports. Generally, weapons, firearms, hazardous items, flammable items, controlled substances and contraband prohibited by the local and national laws are not allowed.
The most affordable cruise packages to The Bahamas are the ones from Fort Lauderdale, because this port is very close to the country. You may opt to book a cruise only fare or a package deal that consists of a cruise and a hotel reservation in the Grand Bahama island.