The only thing better than taking a cruise is taking two cruises! Known as a back to back (or B2B) or in industry nomenclature, consecutive cruising, taking two cruises in a row on the same ship is an ideal way to really unwind, and make the most of your time on board. While you can certainly sail to all the same ports twice, one of the best ways to capitalize on B2B sailings is by picking a ship that does alternating itineraries, i.e. eastern Caribbean one week, and western Caribbean the next.
Why Cruise Back to Back?
What makes a B2B so satisfying? During the first week, you’re still a little wound up from work. By the second week, you’ve let go, and are really unwinding. Not to mention, there’s an almost giddy feeling knowing that when all the other poor souls have to leave the ship you get to stay for another week… or more. However, there are B2B opportunities in the short cruise markets too. The short 3- and 4- night Bahamas cruises from Florida ports offer some of the most affordable cruises. If you aren’t port particular, and are really looking to just take an affordable get away, combine a three and four night Bahamas cruise into a B2B and enjoy a reasonably priced seven nights of cruising. Here’s a little video courtesy of Royal Caribbean International to wet your B2B appetite.
Back to Back Cruise Logistics
There’s nothing special about booking a B2B. Call the cruise line directly to help arrange for the same stateroom and note your reservations as consecutive or use a travel agent. Then go cruise! The logistics of “turnaround day” on your B2B vary by cruise line, and even by the home port of the ship. Typically, you’ll get a letter on the last evening of your first cruise that contains your onboard charge card/room key for the following cruise. The letter will explain how customs formalities will be handled. If you booked a different stateroom for your second week (try not to, but it happens), you’ll need to pack your belongings and leave them in your stateroom when you exit to clear customs. Your bags will magically appear in your new stateroom. If you have the same stateroom, no need to worry about packing.
On turnaround day, there are one of a few possibilities most of which will include waiting in a lounge until everyone except those on the next cruise have disembarked the ship. Then a crewmember will walk you through customs. Some ports will even send a customs inspector onboard to collect your blue card, and you won’t even have to leave the ship. Once you are back on board, you may have the ship to yourself for a bit, or you may just barely beat the new guests on. If you are fortunate to have the ship to yourself for a bit, it’s often a great time to explore the ship and take pictures.
Back to Back Cruise Summary
In summary, a back to back cruise is a wonderful way to maximize your cruise vacation. Try to keep the same stateroom for both cruises if you can. Part of the joy of not needing to leave the ship should also include not needing to pack on the final night of the first cruise! It’s a good idea to book your B2B cruise on the phone with the cruise line, or have your travel agent handle things for you to ensure the cruise line knows you are on a B2B sailing. Enjoy your cruise!