With all the advances in the cruise industry, you should be able to find a cruise ship that meets your needs. You have to try a cruise at some time or another … and you will be hooked, just like we were. There are ships that are like a floating city, with everything you will need … to ships that are very small with very few amenities. If you like a themed vacation, there are many to choose from. The themes range from music, politics, sports, relationships, family oriented and so much more.
So – all you have to do is decide where you want to go, when , how long , what type , and how much you want to spend. OK – so that sounds like a lot, but so much is already planned for you once you are on board.
With a cruise vacation you do not have to pack and unpack at each port – a great plus for us , since we tend to pack quite a bit. Instead of spending a week somewhere and then find out you do not like it; you can get new inspirations with new adventures every day, since every few days you are at a new and exciting place. You will not be packing and unpacking at each new place. You can see several different ports, and if you find one you really like, you can plan your next extended vacation there.
Where do you start? Once you have a basic idea of what you want, you need to book the cruise. If you are comfortable exploring options on your own, you can book the cruise directly. If not, you have a lot of options. A travel agent you have used in the past is a good place to start. If not, you can go online and find local agents that specialize in cruises. There are cruise brokers, you can call the cruise lines directly, ask friends who have cruised how they booked their Cruise Vacation. There is even a web site to compare prices; cruise complete .
One of the cruises my wife and I took was called a repositioning cruise. The cruise lines use these to move the ship to a new port of call. This usually happens on routes that are seasonal. In our case it was with a brand new ship. It was built in Europe but its port of call was to be Miami. We had a 16 day transatlantic cruise with 5 ports of call for under $ 100 a day total.
Now that we have talked you into a Cruise Vacation, here are a few things to do before you go:
- Travel Insurance could help with unexpected expenses; like trip delays, medical expenses, lost luggage, and other unforeseen problems. One of the first things my wife and I learned from our first cruise is that if possible, arrive at the port city at least one day early. This way if there are unexpected delays do to the weather or mechanical problems you have a better chance of arriving before the cruise ship leaves without you.
We did not do this on our first cruise. In our case, we had to get up at 3AM to get to the airport. Once we arrived at the port city we were rushed to get our luggage then catch a cab to the port. By the time we had unpacked we were too exhausted to enjoy our first night. So on our next cruise vacation, we arrived 2 days early. We were able to spend time seeing the port city and the day we left we were able to really enjoy our first night at sea.
- Shore Excursions: Once you decide on your cruise travel, you have to decide on what you want to do when you reach your ports of call. The cruise line you booked through will have several options on-line for you to choose from. Even though booking through the cruise line might be more expensive, one advantage is that if there is a problem with getting to the port on time, you will be covered. Go online and enter the cities you will be stopping at. You can usually find links that will help you find day excursions on your own. Go to the library and check out guide books.
- In some ports there will be resorts that offer day passes. Go to: resort for a day or call 631 / 630-3907. Sometimes not planning can be just as good. You can save money and explore the city on your own (remember those guide books). Often times there is a visitors booth at or near the port. You can get maps and good suggestions. You can ask about unique places to go or the touristy places. Sometimes doing the touristy thing can be a lot of fun. Do not forget about the cruise staff. Chances are they have been to the port many times and know the city well. Hire a car for part of the day to see the area and just explore. You may see some thing you want to go back to. Just remember; agree on a fee before you get into the car.
Most people look forward to the ports, myself included. I want to have the first one off the ship, and see as much as possible. Then I am usually one of the last ones to get back (on more than one occasion I thought I might be left behind).
- No Shore Excursions? However, you may have already been to a port and do not want to see any more of the area, or maybe you just want to stay on board. There are some real advantages to staying on board while the cruise ship is in port. Most of your shipmates will be gone so you do not have to wait in line to do things you have been putting off. Many of the onboard amenities that you have to pay for, like the spa will have greatly reduced prices while in port. Then there's that one thing that my wife says I'm not capable of doing and that that just spending the day "Relaxing".
Check back for more suggestions on cruising in other upcoming blogs.