The ultimate guide to planning a cruise, expert cruise guidance, what cruisers need to know about planning a cruise, taking a cruise guide, Michelle Couch-Friedman cruise fiasco expert

Planning a cruise this year? Here’s your guide to avoiding common mistakes

Over the years, I’ve mediated hundreds of requests for help from distressed cruise line passengers. Many of these cruise fiascos were the result of passenger mistakes and could have been avoided by following some simple guidelines. With wave season just beginning, now is the perfect time to review Consumer Rescue’s ultimate guide to planning a cruise.

Here’s all the information you need to know about planning and taking a cruise.

cruise mistakes, Flying on same day as cruise and packing passport in luggage, cruise ship sailing away, missed cruise

How two little mistakes can end in tears at the cruise terminal

Two mistakes – and one delayed flight – led Tom Watson to arrive at the Miami cruise terminal without his passport. With just minutes to look for the document, time ran out. He and his wife were denied boarding the cruise, and the ship sailed without them.

Watson places the blame on Viking for their missed cruise, and wants a full refund. But who is really responsible here?

This tale highlights the danger of flying on the same day as your cruise is set to begin. Although it may seem convenient to fly into your embarkation city and transfer straight to the ship, even a slight flight delay can have devastating consequences.

Carnival Cruise Line ship, cruise ship on the ocean.

We had our Real ID! Why couldn’t we board our Carnival Cruise?

Although a Real ID and an Enhanced ID look nearly identical, there are critical differences between the two identifications. Diane Dipalma recently received a rapid and painful education on the topic while attempting to board Carnival Cruise Line’s Legend. 

She and her new husband believed they could use their Real ID driver’s licenses to take the cruise. But the Carnival Cruise Line staff quickly clarified that they couldn’t, and the shocked newlyweds missed their honeymoon. 

Here’s their story and what you need to know about the differences between a Real ID and an Enhanced ID.

If you hate your cruise, don't expect a credit card dispute to fix the situation. Don't leave the cruise early, even if you dislike the trip.

Hate your cruise? This is why you shouldn’t jump ship too soon

Should you receive a refund if you hate your cruise so much that you get off the ship early? What if you leave the cruise before it even sets sail?

Lori Rutt and her husband maintain that if intolerable conditions push you to leave a cruise ship, a refund is owed. She says only hours after they boarded their first cruise ever, they chose to disembark — never to return.

Couple removed from cruise in Korea, Holland America refuses refund request.

This is how to get removed from your cruise with no refund included

If you get involuntarily removed from a cruise halfway around the world, does the cruise line owe you compensation?

William Coats believes so. Holland America booted him and his wife from the Westerdam in Korea just days into their 14-day cruise. As a result, they’re out thousands of dollars and he wants the cruise line to pay.

This is why you should never take a cruise with just a passport card

You should not cruise with just a passport card. This is why

It’s never a great idea to cruise with just a passport card. If you’ve ever thought about doing it, you’ll want to read this cautionary tale.

Daniel Sellar’s cruise fiasco is an unfortunate example of what can go wrong if you decide to cruise with just a passport card. Things may go just fine. But you should consider what will happen if you miss the boat and need to take a flight to catch up with it. Because although you can cruise with just a passport card, you can’t fly anywhere internationally with one. 

Never rely on a stranger's guidance about the ID you need to cruise.

Never ask a stranger what ID you need to cruise. This is why

You should never rely on an anonymous stranger’s advice about the required ID you need to take your next cruise. Salvatore Friscia knows this all too well. While planning a vacation on Carnival’s Pride, he says an unidentified phone agent gave him the wrong information about the documentation requirements for the cruise. That guidance led him and his wife to show up for the cruise without the correct ID. As a result, the Friscias were denied boarding the ship and missed the entire cruise.

You can cruise without a passport, but you shouldn't. This is what can happen if you miss your cruise and don't have a passport with you.

This is what happens when you miss your cruise without a passport

Maybe you’ve taken an international cruise without a passport and it was smooth sailing all the way. But you might want to consider Earl Wentzel’s troubling tale before booking your next maritime adventure.

Earl’s case should serve as an eye-opener to anyone considering taking a cruise without a passport. When you cruise with no passport, you’re putting yourself in a precarious position that could cause you to miss your vacation completely — no refund included. Or worse. You could even find yourself stranded in a foreign country.

Barbados refused to allow these Royal Caribbean passengers entry so they missed their cruise. But can they get a refund?

Barbados rejected this couple. Will Royal Caribbean offer a cruise refund?

The massive lifting of travel restrictions in the past few months came a little too late for Ann Shepherd. In April, she and her husband missed their much-anticipated Royal Caribbean cruise when Barbados rejected them for entry. As their cabin aboard the Grandeur of the Seas sailed unoccupied, the cruise line quickly refused Ann’s refund request. 

Ann says this isn’t fair since she believes the Barbados Ministry of Health refused them by mistake. Now she’s hoping Royal Caribbean will offer a replacement cruise for the one they missed.

Unfortunately, this cautionary tale highlights the confusing evolution of travel requirements and restrictions before, during, and after the pandemic.

Whose mistake really caused this missed cruise? That’s the question for today.