Leaving town for several months requires a little forethought. Here, an expert-vetted timeline for getting ready to set sail.

1-2 Years Out — Book It

Penthouse Suite perks on Oceania Cruises’ Insignia. (Oceania Cruises)

“World cruises have become so sought-after that you need to start booking up to two years in advance,” says CJ White, a Virtuoso advisor based in McLean, Virginia. And, naturally, the best cabins go first. This is going to be your home for several months, so consider a suite upgrade or even taking two adjoining cabins. Says White: “You can use one as a dressing room – and you’ll have two bathrooms.”

9 Months Out — Get Vaccinated

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Depending on the itinerary, inoculations may be required. Share travel plans with your physician and set up any necessary vaccination appointments.

6-8 Months Out — Research Visa Requirements and Travel Insurance

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Many countries require entry visas, and obtaining them involves sending in your passport or filling out electronic applications. “Each visa has its own timeline, so I keep a calendar checklist to discuss with my clients in order to make sure they’re taken care of,” says travel advisor Ruth Turpin. Now is also the time to look into travel insurance, if it’s not already mandated by the cruise line – your advisor can help.

3 Months Out — Review Your Prescriptions

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Most doctors will only prescribe 90 days’ worth of medication; to secure prescriptions for longer, travelers must work with their insurers to extend the timeline.

1 Month Out — Ship Luggage

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Some cruise lines offer free luggage shipping before sailing; if they don’t, your advisor can help you find a luggage-shipping service. “This is also a way to send clothes home during the cruise, to make room for purchases,”  says Fort Worth, Texas-based Virtuoso advisor Ruth Turpin.

2 Weeks Out — Download Communication Apps

With Wi-Fi included in most world cruises, many travelers take advantage of Internet-based apps such as Skype and WhatsApp to stay in touch with loved ones back home.

0 Days Out — Relax! 

“It’s a job to get ready,” says Carlo Hilliard, a travel advisor from Hilton Head, South Carolina. “Now it’s time to board and be pampered, entertained, and spoiled.”

Top Photo: Courtesy Princess Cruises