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Preparing for Caribbean cruises

12 December 2013

Before booking one of the Caribbean cruises available, it is a good idea to look into what you will need to pack for your holiday, the weather conditions for that time of year, particular customs and any additional travel documents you may require. Each island may have different customs to the other, so do not assume that the whole region will be the same. When going on any type of trip, particularly to an exotic destination, planning and preparation is very important. The climate, customs and law may be very different to the UK and, therefore, sufficient research on these aspects should be undertaken well in advance to ensure that you are well informed before your arrival. Civilians, for example, are prohibited from wearing camouflage clothing in countries such as Barbados, Dominica and Trinidad & Tobago. You could get into serious trouble if you ignore this rule. Caribbean cruises are the most popular type of cruise with British holidaymakers due to its warm climate, great value for money, exotic wildlife, stunning scenery and fun activities. Due to the heat, you will need to pack the appropriate clothing; UV-rated sunglasses and skin care protection of a minimum SPF30. A brimmed hat is also a good idea to shield your face from the sun. It can rain in some parts of the region, more so at certain times of the year, so pack some waterproof clothing and an umbrella as well. It is important to note that various islands have different customs from one another. For women, a bikini may not be appropriate in some areas and could cause offence or problems with the police. Be sure to check before you leave. A long evening dress may be required in some restaurants or establishments within some of the islands, or long trousers for men, so also make sure to pack these in your luggage. Do not take any expensive jewellery on holiday, as thefts can occur in the Caribbean as they can anywhere else. If you do take valuables with you, it is important to keep them in a safety deposit box. Insect repellent is a good idea whilst on one of the islands, especially when hiking or participating in other outdoor activities, as mosquitoes are common. If you go snorkelling, it is best to take your own snorkel, as it is more hygienic. Whilst travelling around, keep all of your bags tightly secured, ensuring any zips are fully done up in order to reduce the risk of being targeted by pickpockets. Keep any wallets and cash in a secure bag or at the front pocket of your trousers or jacket, rather than the back. Ensure that you have all the correct travel documents required for your visit, including a valid passport and boarding passes for your flight. If you expect to hire a car out there, make sure that you take your driving licence. Pack copies of all of these into a separate bag in the event that you lose one. It is also a good idea to email these to yourself in order to create a digital copy that can be accessed easily. A pocket map or guide of the area is ideal, in case you get lost and need to find your way around. The local currency is also required, and make sure to have a debit or credit card with you in case you need to withdraw any additional cash whilst over there. It can be hard to find some types of toiletries on a few of the islands, so pack enough to see you through until the end of your holiday. Bring any of your current medication in its original packing, as well as any copies of prescriptions in case you lose them or run out whilst abroad. You should make sure that you are vaccinated against the appropriate illnesses, depending on where in the Caribbean you are visiting. A vaccination for Hepatitis A is advised for all areas of the region, while one for typhoid is recommended for Cuba, Haiti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Honduras. Occasionally vaccinations against diphtheria, tuberculosis and hepatitis B are recommended. A rabies vaccination may also be needed for some of the islands, while a yellow fever jab is often required ten days before travelling to Trinidad, and sometimes Tobago. Malaria is generally not a risk, but it can be transmitted in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. If you are unsure, it is important to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving for your trip. It is also a sensible idea to take out sufficient travel insurance before departure.