You’ve booked a P&O cruise and now it’s time to get ready, but where do you start? This comprehensive guide includes a P&O pre-cruise checklist to ensure you are prepared for your cruise. It’s been designed to take the stress out of getting ready to cruise and is especially useful for first-time cruisers.
My most recent cruise with P&O was in May 2023, so I have first-hand experience of cruising with P&O. This pre-cruise checklist for P&O Cruises has been compiled using guidance from the cruise line and things I’ve learnt from personal experience.
Related P&O Cruises posts:
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1. Check that your passport is valid and in date
Let’s start with the most important thing on this entire pre-cruise checklist – your passport. Check that your passport is valid and in date for the time of your cruise. You should have at least 6 months remaining on your passport after the date you return from your holiday.
After 31st December 2020, you will need at least 6 months on your passport when cruising in Europe. This is due to the completion of the Brexit transition period.
You will need sufficient blank pages for any entry and exit stamps (depending on your itinerary). If this is not the case, you need to give yourself plenty of time to renew or apply.
Don’t leave it until the last minute or you may not get your passport in time for your cruise! Here are some useful links to help:
- Apply for your first adult passport
- Renew or replace an adult passport
- Apply for a child passport
- Change your name or details on your passport
- How to get a passport urgently
P&O Cruises recommends that you take a photocopy of your passport’s photo page with you on the cruise. This is in case it needs to be used by local immigration authorities.
2. Ensure your tickets match your passport
You need to check that the spellings of names on all cruise documents match your passport details. This may include flight details if you’ve booked a fly-cruise.
The simplest way to do this is to ensure that the details are correct at the time of booking, whether that’s with your travel agent or directly with P&O Cruises.
Pre-cruise information is sent to the lead guest approximately 8 to 9 weeks before departure if booked on the P&O Cruises Select Fare Rate. If you have booked the Early Saver, Late Saver or other promotional rates you can only access the documents via the Cruise Personaliser.
3. Arrange travel insurance
You should have travel insurance in place as soon as you have booked the cruise. Many people think that you only need travel insurance for the period of time you are on holiday but you need to have travel insurance in place from the time of booking to cover issues such as injury, a death in the family or anything else that may go wrong before the cruise that could stop you from going. More than half of travel insurance claims are for things that have prevented people from being able to travel.
P&O Cruises’s preferred partner for travel insurance is Holiday Extras.
It’s important to make sure that you provide details of any pre-existing medical conditions. If you fail to do this, your travel insurance may be null and void.
You may want to consider specific cruise travel insurance, which can compensate you for things such as missed ports and cabin confinement.
Take a look at this useful explanation from Emma, about travel insurance and the Coronavirus.
4. Complete your passport and insurance details online
This is crucial point on the P&O pre-cruise checklist. You must ensure that essential details such as your passport and insurance information are completed for everyone in your booking in the P&O Cruise Personaliser. You may also find an itinerary questionnaire to complete in this online area.
Pre-cruise information is available on your Cruise Personaliser from 12 weeks before departure. You must complete this information by the day before your cruise but I would highly recommend getting this done at least two weeks in advance.
5. Inform your bank/credit card company of your travel
To avoid fraud, some banks and credit card companies freeze your account if they see unusual spending patterns or locations of use. This protects you if your card has been stolen or cloned BUT if you are genuinely trying to use your card abroad, this may cause issues.
The best thing to do is check with your bank or credit card company to find out if you need to inform them of foreign travel. I had to do this for a Caribbean cruise once, which meant registering each port and date to ensure I could use my card. This is usually available via online banking. Thankfully my bank (Halifax) no longer requires me to do this.
Whilst we are on the subject of credit cards, it may be worth considering a travel credit card like the Halifax Clarity Credit Card. The benefit of this card is the ability to use the card abroad with no transaction fee for currency conversion. You can also withdraw cash from ATM machines without being charged additional fees (unless it has a a standard fee like some in the UK do). This card along with a few others is recommended by Martin Lewis (see Moneysaving Expert for more advice).
6. Call your GP
You need to contact your G.P. at least six weeks before the cruise in case you need to arrange vaccinations (depending on your cruise itinerary).
Since the Coronavirus pandemic, it is likely that future passengers will need to bring an additional 14 days of medication in case of delays returning home. Make sure you pack enough for the duration of the cruise and 14 days more.
When it comes to packing, it may be sensible to keep medication in you hand luggage so you have it at all times.
7. Inform P&O Cruises of any medical information
Do you have a medical condition that has required treatment within six months of your cruise? It is important that as part of your pre-cruise checklist, you inform P&O Cruises in advance.
If you have a condition that necessitates you to use oxygen, electrical medical equipment, medical sharps, peritoneal kidney dialysis or special equipment, you should contact P&O Cruises to discuss on 0345 355 5111.
You may be asked to complete an Accessibility and Medical Questionnaire.
P&O Cruises will not allow pregnant women to cruise beyond 24 weeks. Prior to sailing, all pregnant passengers must produce a letter from their doctor or midwife to confirm that the mother and baby are in good health. The letter must state that they are fit to travel and the pregnancy is not high risk. This letter must also include the estimated due date calculated from the last menstrual period and ultrasound (if performed).
8. Ensure your luggage meets the criteria
No item of luggage should exceed 23kg. This limit is for the purposes of health and safety to protect the luggage porters from injury.
If you’re cruising from Southampton, there is no limit to the number of suitcases you can bring with you but remember, you must be able to store them in your cabin safely for the duration of the cruise. Two large suitcases will fit under a queen size bed.
If you have booked a fly-cruise with P&O, you should adhere the individual airline’s luggage restrictions.
Suitcases should be lockable and sturdy to withstand a considerable amount of handling on and off the cruise.
9. Check dress codes
When you are planning what clothes to take on your cruise, ensure you’ve checked the dress codes and pack accordingly. Fancy dress is generally not permitted on P&O ships unless for Halloween and Christmas events.
Caribbean cruises tend to include a Tropical Night so I’d recommend packing something colourful to wear for that evening. If not, you will easily be able to pick something up in one of the Caribbean ports during your cruise.
The Gala Night and Black and White formal evenings are a chance to dress up in formal evening wear. Most passengers stick to black and white attire for both. Men wear dinner jackets with bow ties and some women wear long evening gowns (mostly in black). If you want to pack something suitable with minimal weight in your suitcase these little black dresses would be perfectly suitable.
If you have an 80’s Night detailed on your cruise itinerary, don’t worry about having to find suitable clothes, nobody dresses up for this evening.
10. Book parking and pre-cruise accommodation
An important point not to be missed on your P&O pre-cruise checklist is the booking of parking and accommodation.
If you’re cruising from Southampton, there is an array of parking options available to cruise ship passengers.
I would always advise you to arrive in port the day before your cruise to avoid any traffic problems or mishaps that mean you miss the cruise!
If you’re planning to travel to Southampton the day before your cruise, you may want to consider accommodation that offers cruise packages. They provide parking for the duration of your cruise as well as a handy shuttle service.
11. Print your E-tickets
Don’t forget to print your e-tickets and check the port check-in time. You can find them in your Cruise Personaliser.
Post Coronavirus, it’s going to be more and more important that you stick to your embarkation time so that P&O can avoid crowds and queues at the cruise terminal.
P&O pre-cruise checklist extras
So far I have discussed the essential tasks to remember before your P&O cruise but here are some extra things you may want to consider to personalise your cruise experience.
- Drinks package
- Spa treatments
- Specialty dining reservations*
*I can personally recommend doing in advance
P&O excursions are reasonably priced and we did several on our last cruise. I typically book excursions independently but we booked most of our excursions through P&O Cruises. Book in advance to avoid popular tours becoming fully booked.
I left pre-purchasing my Wifi until it was too late and had to pay more once I got onboard the ship. You can pre-pay for Wifi up until four days before the cruise. If you’re planning to get it, it’s cheaper to pay in advance via your Cruise Personaliser.
I booked The Limelight Club for two evenings of our cruise. You can see the acts who will be performing on your cruise up to 12 weeks before you sail. I didn’t book any of the other specialty dining venues before I got onboard and reservations were limited.
Final thoughts and free printable checklist
My top tip for getting ready for your next cruise with P&O is to work through this pre-checklist and leave plenty of time to do things such as renew passports and research excursions.
Leaving things until the last minute can create unnecessary stress before your holiday and cost you more money.
I have created a handy printable pre-cruise checklist you can download, which includes recommended times to complete tasks.