Planning a cruise from Turkey with your family? Read on for the travel checklist we followed after being invited to try out one of Costa Cruises’ new itineraries from Istanbul. It includes making sure you have the right travel insurance in place, important things to consider post-pandemic and getting the most out of your holiday.
If you have been reading Tin Box Traveller for a while you might remember our last big holiday abroad was to the Caribbean with P&O Cruises moments before COVID-19 landed. It was incredible – the cruise, not what followed!
This is why I couldn’t resist a well-timed offer of a press trip with Costa with ports of call in Istanbul, Izmir, Bodrum, Mykonos and Piraeus from where we can visit Athens.
But after two years of enjoying holidays at home in Devon I was feeling a bit rusty about what we needed to check off our list ahead of our cruise around the Aegean Sea. We’d not been abroad as a family since 2019 and A LOT has changed: travel restrictions, Brexit and the whole cruise experience.
If you’re feeling equally fuddled about travel abroad – cruise holidays in particular – this post may jog your memory.
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Our checklist for a cruise from Turkey
Here’s the steps I worked through to bring myself back up to speed and make sure we left all stress at our front door.
1. Get comprehensive travel insurance
Insurance is an absolute essential for all holidays, especially cruises as most cruise companies will not let you board unless you are covered. But did you know that some travel insurers exclude cruises unless a ‘cruise extension’ is added on.
We have an annual policy with CoverForYou, underwritten by AXA, that automatically covers cruise holidays, with set additional benefits as part of their normal cover.
Cruise insurance covers scenarios like claims for unused excursions, missed ports and confinement to cabin. All are a very real possibilities in the current climate.
CoverForYou also offer award-winning COVID-19 cover as standard. This means that if you fall ill with COVID and can’t travel or if you denied boarding at your departure airport or cruise port they can help.
If you need travel insurance readers of Tin Box Traveller can get at 15% discount on all policies from CoverForYou by adding ‘6UVZY5662T’ at the checkout. This code cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions.
2. Double check the expiry date on your passports
Don’t get caught out by changes to passport rules that have come in after Brexit.
Historically the UK Passport Office has rolled over months from previous passports when they were renewed. However EU countries will not accept UK passports that are more than 10-years-old regardless of when they expire.
So, your current UK passport will be valid in the EU as long as:
- it has at least another six months to run from the start date of your holiday;
- AND it is less than 10 years old.
Cruise lines will also want you to have a passport with at least six months to run before it goes out of date.
Give yourself plenty of time to renew if you need to, especially around peak times for the Passport Office in the run up to the summer holidays.
Read more about things to consider when holidaying in Europe after Brexit.
3. Check travel guidance and vaccination status
Make sure you have done a thorough check of the very latest guidance on travel to Turkey and your cruise line’s requirements.
At the time we travelled Mr Tin Box and I did not need to take PCR tests or antigen tests to fly to Turkey as we are both fully vaccinated. Had we not been vaccinated we would have had to do a PCR test before flying. There were no travel restrictions for under 12-years-old at the time we travelled to Turkey.
However, we all needed to take antigen tests 48 hours before boarding our Costa cruise ship and again at the port.
5. Book pre-cruise hotels and parking
We’re flying from London Heathrow, which is a fair distance from where we live in Devon, so we considered taxis, overnight hotels and parking ahead of our flight.
In the end we settled on driving ourselves as our plane didn’t take off until the afternoon.
4. Book onboard packages and excursions
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff.
There’s a few onboard extras that it’s worth booking or investigating before you board like Wi-Fi, the drinks package and excursions.
If there’s a port excursion that you’ve got your heart set on book it in advance. This will make sure you get a space and you can spread the cost of your cruise.
In a post-pandemic world it’s also important to check whether your vaccination status will impact which excursions you can book.
If you’re planning on exploring on your own do your research about how family-friendly each port is and budget for shuttle buses if the cruise terminal is any distance from the closest town or city.
Booking your shore excursions ahead of your cruise will also help you decide on what you might need to pack, such as walking shoes and snorkels, or clothing appropriate for changeable European weather.
Cruise drinks packages
Pre-paying for soft drinks and alcohol packages before boarding your cruise will make them cheaper.
However, have a good think about whether you’ll get value for money. On previous cruises we have decided against it. Find out why in my guide to the P&O drinks package.
However, the number of free drinks included as standard in a Costa cruise is less than we had available on P&O, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. The all-inclusive buffet isn’t always open so you can’t grab a cuppa or squash on a whim.
Just like drinks packages, WiFi packages are often cheaper to buy before your cruise.
But don’t expect too much from it. From our experience and speaking to people have sailed with several different cruise lines, the standard package will allow you to check messages and share updates to your social media.
But it’s not designed for large downloads or uploads. It might be more worthwhile totally disconnecting when you’re not in port.
5. Pack family essentials that won’t be onboard
As well as our holiday wardrobe we packed a few items to make life easier during our cruise from Turkey:
- Costa Cruises is an Italian owned cruise line so travel adaptors are a must
- Non-perishable snacks for the kids
- Robinsons Squash’d* concentrated cordial to add a bit of flavour to water in our cabin.
If you are cruising with young children there are some essentials you won’t find in the ship’s shops. When we cruised when the girls were little we took nappies, wet wipes and Calpol to last a few days at a time. You restock when you are in port.
Cruising across the pond? Take a look at my packing list for Caribbean cruises.
If you are cruising with a baby or have recently found out you are expecting you might also like to read about the extra things you need to take into consideration when cruising with an infant or when pregnant.
6. Sort your money
We had a stash of Euros from our pre-pandemic trips so we didn’t buy any new currency for this trip.
If you do need Euros Money Saving Expert has lots of top advice on where to get the most up to currency deals.
Something we have done is let our bank know we are going abroad so they don’t stop card transitions that might look out of place.
7. Check in online
In the final weeks before your cruise from Turkey you’ll be reminded to login to your cruise account and add the details of all the passengers in your family. You may also have to add the credit card which you’ll be using to pay your onboard account.
We also love it when there’s a cruise countdown clock – it’s the little things that get us excited about our upcoming cruise adventures!
8. Print your travel documents
Have a folder ready with all your passports, travel insurance and boarding passes before you leave home.
Well before then, check that everything has your name on it exactly how it appears on your passport. Also print off your luggage labels if instructed to do so by your cruise company.
And you’re ready to go! I hope this checklist has been helpful if you are planning a cruise from Turkey.
Also take a look at our checklists for every family holiday.
Read more of our cruise tips and posts:
- A guide to cruising with toddlers
- What to pack for a cruise
- How to have a more environmentally-friendly cruise
- Toiletries to pack for a winter sun holiday
- Are cruise drinks packages worth it?
- A 15 night Caribbean cruise without kids
- Tips for disembarkation day
- Advantages of booking a luxury cabin
Disclosure: this is a collaborative post with CoverForYou. This post also contains affiliate links marked with *. If you click on one of these and make a purchase I may earn some commission. This does not affect the price you pay.