Cruising is such a fun and unique experience. It is a great way to travel, especially when you are taking kids along. However, sometimes when you are booking your cruise it can become difficult to book within your selected timeframe. Or maybe you would like to cruise longer than the available cruises. This is where booking a back-to-back cruise comes in.
We recently booked a back-to-back cruise, as we had to change the date of our original cruise. Our original cruise was due to depart just a few days before Koby turned 6 months, but he needed to be six months prior to departing. As we still wanted to cruise close to our original departure time, we were able to book a back-to-back cruise, departing on Koby’s 6-month birthday! He was the youngest on our cruise! Read about our experience and tips for cruising with a baby.
What is a Back-to-Back Cruise?
First of all, what exactly is a back-to-back cruise? Simply put, it is when you book two cruises consecutively… usually on the same ship. It is best to book two separate cruises with different cruise itineraries so that you can still make the most of your experience.
If you are cruising back-to-back, make sure you let the front desk know that you are a back-to-back cruiser. This way, any arrangements needed for your trip can be made.
Never been on a Cruise before? Here are our Tips for Your First Family Cruise!
Will We Need to Disembark Our Cruise?
Usually, yes. The process does vary by cruise line as well as the laws of the port of disembarkation. But, most cruise lines will require you to disembark when moving to the second half of your cruise.
If you are required to disembark while on a back-to-back cruise you may be expected to go through immigration. Some cruise lines will have a designated area for back-to-back cruises. Others will have back-to-back cruisers escorted to clear immigration. And some cruise lines will provide you with a priority pass to help move you through quicker.
In any case, you should be able to board again before the other passengers arrive. Just note, during this process services on board the ship will be limited.
Will We Need to Check-in Again on a Back-to-Back Cruise?
As for checking in, it is unlikely that you will have to go through the whole process a second time.
However, as a back-to-back cruise is a completely separate cruise you will have to obtain a new keycard. This means that you will need to settle your account from the previous cruise and open a new one for the second half.
Some cruise lines will send your new key card to your room, the night before disembarkation. Other cruise lines will require you to visit the front desk to obtain your new key card. You may be required to take a new security photo, but the cruise will let you know.
Once Cleared, can We Re-board at Anytime?
Once you have disembarked from your cruise, you can re-board at any time. This means you are free to explore the area where your ship is docked.
Just note: You may need your OLD keycard to leave the ship and the NEW keycard to return to the ship.
Read More: Tips for a Family Friendly Day in Port
Will We Stay in the Same Cabin?
If you are taking a back-to-back cruise on the same ship you will remain in the same cabin. This means that you will not have to pack up your stuff and you can disembark without your luggage.
You can, however, opt to book a different cabin for the second half of your cruise. This is a great option if you want to upgrade your cabin for just half the length of your cruising experience. If you choose to book a different cabin you will have to talk to the front desk about your luggage arrangements.
Will We Have to Attend the Muster Drill again?
Yes, as a back-to-back cruise is two separate sails you will have to attend the muster drill again.
What to Expect on the Second Leg of Your Back-to-Back Cruise:
As you are taking two separate sailings you should expect your experience to be different than a single sailing. Some experiences of back-to-back cruising are positive, while others will feel like a repeat of your first cruise. Here is what you can expect when taking a back-to-back cruise:
The Cruise Ship will Feel Like Your Home
The beauty of taking a back to back cruise is that you already know your way around the cruise ship while all the new passengers are still trying to get their bearings. It makes the ship feel familiar, like it is your home and everyone else is a guest… a pretty cool feeling!
Also, some of the staff might remember you from the first half of your cruise making the experience even more exciting.
The Menu May be the Same
When eating in the dining hall, there is often a different menu for each night of your cruise. Because you are taking a second cruise on the same ship, the menu may not change between the sailings. Just look at the positives, you can try other food that you didn’t get to on other nights.
However, if each of your sailings is a different length you may get a different menu on a few nights.
The Entertainment May be the Same
Same as with your menu, cruise ships often have different entertainment for each night of your cruise. Taking a back-to-back cruise may mean a repeat in the entertainment provided for each sail.
However, don’t assume the entertainment will be the same as you may risk missing out! Try to attend most of the entertainment on the first sailing and spend your evenings relaxing on the second. You can also re-see any shows that you really enjoyed.
Tips for Taking a Back-to-Back Cruise
- Book back-to-back cruise with different itineraries so you can see as much as possible
- Request the same cabin to ensure you don’t have to move
- Unpack on the first day of your cruise if you are staying in the same cabin
- Let the front desk know you are a back-to-back cruiser
- Take both keycards with you when disembarking at the end of the first sailing
- Don’t assume the menu, entertainment & activities will be the same for each sailing
- Make friends with the staff on the first sailing to make a great start for the second sailing
Back-to-back cruises are a great option if you plan to go cruising for an extended period of time. I personally wouldn’t choose to take a back-to-back cruise for two short sailings, unless it is your best option.
Overall, taking a back-to-back cruise was relatively hassle-free. We did find there was a little a bit of doubling up on some of the experiences, but it was easy to make the most of it. It also meant that when we had a night in with our baby we didn’t feel like we were missing out on the entertainment.