It's time to think about a vacation.
But after looking at airfares, you have to put the kibosh on a European holiday. You do not relish the idea of battling the crowds at a theme park. You do not want to be cooped up for hours at a time on a long road trip. And you still have nightmares about last year's camping trip when your tent got flooded by a thunderstorm.
So how about a cruise?
Cruise liners offer something for everyone. You get to visit exotic ports of call, and the idea of your hotel "traveling with you" is appealing.
But like any other type of vacation, you need to do a little planning before you embark upon your cruise of choice. Here are some helpful tips.
Map Out Your Trip
There are plenty of destination options to choose from when booking a cruise. Do you prefer the culture of Europe, the natural beauty of Alaska or the tropical island life of the Caribbean? You may consider selecting an off-season cruise for a given location to save some money.
You should also figure out how long you want your trip to be. Then check to see which cruise lines depart from ports near you. Also, look at the itinerary of each cruise. Some have multiple ports of call, while others only have a couple. If you want to spend most of the time on the vessel, different destinations might not be as important to you.
Think Before You Pack
Make sure to bring attire that is climate-appropriate. But you should realize that even warm-weather cruises can be chilly at night on the high seas, so do not forget a light jacket or sweater. Be sure to pack sturdy walking shoes for land excursions as well as comfortable sandals for the ship. And do not forget your swimsuit!
Many cruises put on a formal event during the trip, so be sure to include an evening gown or party dress and a tuxedo or suit. However, for most of the onboard venues including restaurants and theaters, casual attire is acceptable.
Prepare Your Wallet or Purse
In addition to your everyday picture identification, which is required for boarding, make sure to include your passport if your vessel is visiting foreign ports of call. If you forget your passport, you will be forced to stay on the ship when it docks in these locations.
Additionally, you might consider changing some money into foreign currency in advance of your vacation. This will eliminate the need to do so when you disembark in your foreign port. Many foreign locales do accept American money, but you should check with your cruise director just to make sure. In addition, you should probably leave superfluous cards, like gasoline, rewards and retailers' credit cards, at home. You will not need them during the cruise, and you do not want to have to replace them if your wallet or purse is lost.
Do a Little Scheduling
There are plenty of events taking place on the ship, but they are not always going on all day. So take some time to peruse the schedule of events and port docking times. It's understandable if you do not want to create an hour-by-hour schedule of your own cruise, but you do not want to be able to make a decision between a fun activity that you or a shore excursion that you were looking forward to.
In most cases, you can set up shore excursions at the ports of call while you are booking your cruise. These are often once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for you to experience a new country or explore a unique culture. Many of these excursions are limited in terms of how many people they can accept (like with a nature safari in a bus), and the popular options will fill up quickly. So, if you wait until you get on board the ship to choose your excursion, it may be too late.
Take Some Precautions
When you are packing, be sure to include products such as Dramamine for motion sickness, sun block and aloe or other sunburn treatment. If you are going on a shore excursion into the wilderness, toss in some bug spray and anti-itch cream as well. These remedies, along with staples such as pain relief medicine, indigestion pills and bandages, are all sold on the ship – but they will be more expensive than similar items at stores on land.
Ferret Out the "Hidden" Charges
Speaking of expenses, read the fine print of your cruise itinerary to determine what extra charges you might be faced with. One of the major attractions of a cruise is that your room, meals, and onboard entertainment are paid for. But things like alcoholic beverages, carbonated sodas, casino gambling, laundry services, upscale dining and gift shop items will require additional payment. Here's the good news: you can usually charge these expenses to your stateroom and pay for them at the end of your cruise.
Following these suggestions will help you increase the enjoyment of your cruise even more. Then once you walk aboard your luxurious cruise liner, all you have to think about is having fun!