Receiving mail when cruising

scourge - March 26, 2013

Hi all,

My wife and I are planning a Great Lakes cruise for 5 - 6 months when I retire.  We are currently in the planning stages and  have no idea what to do about our mail, particularly receiving our mail.  We will not really have an itinerary so we will not really have a set time or place that our mail can be forwarded to, to pick it up.  What is the best way to handle mail when cruising?  We can set up our bills to be automatically paid, but getting our mail is a mystery.  Any suggestions or tips that others have done would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks - Len Buchanan

cberdie's picture

We use a screener like Bill, when we know where we will be in two or three days we will call the marina we will stay in and ask if it is ok to forward to them. We've never heard a no. It pays to pay for two day delivery, just to be sure you won't have to stay for weeks for a mislaid package to arrive.
Carl Berdie

Bill Rohde's picture

We've not bothered with mail forwarding. Instead we've had someone screen our mail for us (a brother-in-law for a few years, and, our daughter when she moved back near our home, but it could be any trusted person). Since we had previously moved to electronic billing and payment for virtually everything (either automatic payments or personally triggered checks sent from our brokerage) we receive little snail mail of importance, But that said, when something does come in our snail mail that requires our attention, our "mail screener" scans and emails it to us. This has worked very well for us as we've been cruising in and out of the country (e.g. Canada, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, D.R., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, etc.) for an average of about 4 months or so each year for the past 8 years. That said, we also have several friends who do use Brenden's Isle (https://www.sbimailservice.com/), which seems to be the major player servicing this market. They offer both a snail mail forwarding service and electronic scanning and forwarding. here's how they describe their service: "Mail Forwarding Services for Cruisers, RVer's and people who travel. That is our Specialty! Founded in 1988, St. Brendan's Isle believes in the basic principal of providing convenient, dependable and friendly postal mail forwarding services with each and every Client contact. This simple philosophy has helped us grow to become one of the largest mail forwarding companies serving over 4000 Clients worldwide."

There are definitely some very workable and convenient solutions out there, even made more convenient in the internet age. Best of luck with your decisions on a solution.

Jeff Melin's picture

We are planning an extended cruise in this area this summer. We have previously used a mail forwarder to send mail to US Post Offices in lakeside towns with success. However, we are not familiar with Canadian Post services and would appreciate info on policy and locations for pickups.

Ocean-Explorer's picture

Have your mail sent to SMALLER towns when having it sent via general delivery. The post office is never very far away in a smaller community, while it may be quite a hike in a larger town. Post office locations are often shown on the NOAA charts. You may get more personalized service in a smaller town. We were having mail sent to general delivery in Put-in-Bay several years ago and found that we were going to arrive after closing on a Saturday. I called the post-mistress and she offered to take the package to her home where we could pick it up.

Gunkholer's picture

We use the post offices Premium Forwarding Service. We have it sent to our sons house and he occassionally sends it to us at general delivery. I would like to quit the post office by taking my mail box down but the Admiral is not buying the idea.

jwooll's picture

You can get a local private mail box at a UPS store. This keeps you with a local address for voting and tax purposes. Get them to forward mail when you request it to General Delivery at a post office you will be visiting. This worked well for us as we did a full year on the boat doing the Great Loop.