10 Things You Need to Know Before Taking a Cruise

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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!

10 Things You Need to Know Before Taking a Cruise

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

Sources:
http://www.cruisecritic.com
http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/choose-your-cruise