JoCo Cruise Checklist and FYI
I built a checklist for my first cruise earlier this year, and wanted to publish what I had, in case others found it useful. Some items are specific to the JoCo cruise, and are flagged with the 🐵 emoji.
This document may change over time, so I will try to take notes of the changes at the bottom.
Well Before the Cruise
- Check passport expires six (6) months or more after the cruise!
- Get recommended vaccinations. Talk to your doctor, and consult the CDC website for travel
Before the Cruise
- Consider travel insurance (at least for medical coverage)
- 🐵 Install the CruiseMonkey App
- Explore international data/talk for phone (Verizon has "Travel Pass" for $2/day)
- Download offline areas in Google Maps for port cities
- Download music/audiobooks/podcasts/etc
- Notify banks/cards of travel (usually in the app, or call)
Packing for a cruise is a fairly individual thing, but here are a few major points.
Items on this list will probably be confiscated, or simply left on the dock. Refer to cruise line policy for specifics, but these items are nearly universal.
- Surge protectors (see below)
- Alcohol (in substantial quantities)
Surge protectors are forbidden due to a quirk of shipboard power, as they can physically damage the ship. Power strips without surge protection are fine, but you probably don't have one (think an extension cord with multiple plugs). See below for multi-plug USB chargers, which solve this issue.
Must Pack Items
You will be a very sad panda if you don't bring at least a few things:
- Passport (also, Passport Card if you have one)
And a printed copy of the following:
- Boarding documents
- Travel insurance
Day & Checked Bags
Always bring a day bag (a backpack works well) with everything you need for the first day or so. Checked baggage will be delivered to your cabin... eventually. It could take quite a while, and occasionally things are misplaced.
Your day bag should have the following:
- All paperwork discussed above
- Medication for 48 hours
- Phone charger and/or battery
- Anything you may want for the first few hours onboard (swimwear, book, etc.)
- Formal clothing (for gala nights)
- 🐵 JoCo does a Gala night (or two). Show off!
- 🐵 JoCo pajama day! Wear pajamas the whole day long!
- Light Jacket or windbreaker (the deck can be very chilly/windy while underway)
- Board/Card games
- Earplugs (for near-elevator rooms, noisy neighbors, snoring roommates)
- USB power strip (this 5-port Anker model was perfect for me)
- Rash Guard - sun blocking swim shirt (I will be trying this one from Kanu)
A few collected bits of knowledge. Some will be specific to Holland America or JoCo, but only the JoCo items will be marked (haven't cruised with any other carrier yet).
- Tips are included in room charges ($13.50/day for standard rooms, more for suites)
- Room service really is free, but generally the same food as the Lido Buffet
- Ship laundry is really useful (free for suite guests, otherwise charged to room)
Holland America also has a helpful document, though it has a lot of filler.
JoCo Cruise also has a helpful document, linking to everything you need to know.
Internet on cruises in the Mexican Riviera is still pretty bad (the Caribbean is getting better). It is entirely satellite internet, and the whole boat is sharing the single connection.
In 2017, the plans offered were:
- Social Plan (limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp): $14.99/day, $69.99/full cruise
- Enhanced Plan (general web surfing and email. Does not support streaming music or Skype): $24.99/day, $99.99/full cruise
- Premiere Plan (fastest possible connection, supports Skype video calling): $29.99/day, $139.99/full cruise.
The premiere plan... worked; most browsing was quite slow, but functional. The internet went down several times in on the 2017 JoCo Cruise, but mostly because 1800 people joined a wifi system built for a boat full of octogenarians. Heroically, the IT staff kept is mostly functional.
Amazingly, I was able to regularly make FaceTime video calls, so they were clearly prioritizing some traffic above others. FaceTime audio calls also worked well.
For chat, I used iMessage which worked perfectly, until any pictures or stickers were sent. Pictures could easily take several minutes to send, even for something as trivial as a sticker. I would suggest sending pictures some other way, and stick strictly to text chat.
- Jun 14, 2017 - Initial publication
- Jun 16, 2017 - Reformat to remove sub-bullets