10 Things You Need to Know Before Taking a Cruise
Vacations are a fun and exciting time! And it’s worth planning ahead to make sure your next cruise goes off without a hitch, letting you focus on frolicking instead of problem solving. Here are some things first-time cruisers need to know – but may not be aware of.
Use it to your advantage, and save yourself some stress in the process!
1. Choose Your Cruise
Here are some things to keep in mind when booking a cruise
- Nothing is more important than room location: Best: Mid-level, ocean view, near Lido deck – Cheapest: Interior cabin, below deck
- Sea sick? Lower cabins feel less movement
- Family? You’re gonna want a bigger cabin!
- It’s better to choose based on your interests and needs than relying solely on price.
- The amenities, crowds, and ports change based on the size of the ship.
- You can save money by booking in the offseason, but the weather might not be as good.
- Different cruise lines have different atmospheres: Family vs. Couples and/or Festive vs. Upscale
2. Know Your Costs
- The price you pay at booking isn’t the only thing you have to budget for
- Things you may have to shell out extra for include: Shore activities, Alternative dining, Alcohol, Soda, Specialty coffee (cappuccino, latte, etc.), Spa treatments, Internet, Laundry, etc.
- Tipping is another potential hidden cost. Find out your cruise line’s policy.
- Buy a beverage package before the cruise to save on drinks!
- Hate waiting in line? Fast track passes will help you board faster
3. Plan Your Fun
- Take note of activities you want to do.
- Find out the interesting sights at each port and get directions.
- Book adventures and excursions online ahead of time.
- Make reservations for dinners and ship activities.
- Leave time to relax!
4. Get Packin’
- Know the dress code and pack accordingly.
- Bring a small day bag along, with essentials like: Documentation (passport, ID, etc.), Medication, Swimsuit, Shorts, Sandals, Sunglasses and sunscreen, etc.
- Your day bag will come in handy on your first day, when you’re waiting on your checked bags, and during port calls.
- Most cruises ban certain items, like: Candles, incense, and hookahs, Knives or scissors with blades longer than 4 inches, Large coolers, Bikes, surfboards, canoes, and shoes with wheels, Clothing irons, heating pads, and electrical appliances, etc.
5. Get Acquainted with Alcohol and Smoking Policies
- You’ll probably want to know about: Drinking age, Free drinks, Bringing drinks onboard, Types of drinks served, Specialty bars, etc.
- Whether smoking is permitted: On balconies or In designated smoking areas
6. Staying in Shape
- Your health doesn’t have to take a back seat to food and fun.
- Take the stairs to burn extra calories.
- Use the free gym or attend fitness classes.
- Do plenty of swimming or water sports.
- Drink plenty of water. Tap water on the ship is perfectly safe.
- Let the cruise line know in advance if you suffer from any food allergies.
7. Find Out About Internet Availability
- Charges and speeds vary wildly based on the cruise line.
- Streaming services, like Netflix, aren’t allowed.
- Your cellphone provider may actually be cheaper.
8. Arrive Ahead of Time
- Many cruisers miss their ship because of: Traffic, Flight delays, Inclement weather and Last-second difficulties or emergencies
- Avoid that by getting to your port city the night before.
9. Be Prepared
- Accidents do happen. Here are some tips to keep you safe.
- Pack a full first aid kit with: Waterproof bandages, Cold and cough medicine, Pain relievers and Motion sickness medicine (Ask your doctor for patches if you’re prone to sea sickness)
- Keep your passport and ID handy.
- In case of emergency, you can debark and catch a flight at a port call.
- Some cruises will even reimburse you if you need to leave early.
10. Practice Port Safety
- If you plan on exploring ports on your own, follow these tips
- Research safety precautions for each port before your trip
- Don’t be afraid of sellers and beggars – a simple ‘no, thank you’ works
- Never accept unsolicited rides from individuals or unmarked taxis