Cruise Vacation Travel Tips: 5 Tips For The Beginner
You’re ready to book your first cruise and hit the high seas. But before you rush to the ship doors take a moment to read some of the ins and outs of cruising. These will help any first-time cruiser learn what to expect and how to prepare for their journey.
1. Investigate the cruise line. With so many options in the marketplace today it’s important to spend some time learning about the line. Have they been written up for repeated outbreaks of illness like Norovirus onboard? Have they been investigated for any misconduct? A quick Google search will give you plenty of information but be sure to go past the information supplied by PR companies or travel agents. You need to know what individuals are saying. There are many forums and review sites where previous passengers can rate their experiences, good and bad. One to look into are Cruise Critic. Also, don’t forget to check the Better Business Bureau for a rating on the company and any history of complaints. Lastly, call your insurance agent. Believe it or not, there are a few cruise lines that insurance companies will no longer underwrite for travel insurance because of long-standing problems.
2. Remember that all-inclusive does not mean free. You are likely to have extra charges on-board even if you’ve booked an all-inclusive package. Beverages (especially alcoholic drinks), shore excursions, spa trips, and internet fees are just a few different things that you are likely to be paying extra for. Keep track of how many times you swipe your room key so you don’t end up with an expensive surprise at the end of your trip.
3. Take time to plan your packing. Before you leave your cruise line will send you information about their dress code. You need to plan accordingly. Some are very laid back while others require black tie attire for meals in their dining rooms. Think flip flops are the only footwear you’ll need? Maybe not. If you’re unsure call your travel agent or the cruise line directly for clarification. Most cruises offer more than one option for dining so if forma lwear just doesn’t appeal to you, there’s likely a less formal option on board.
4. Put some thought into your carry-on bag. When you check-in for your ship departure your luggage is handed off. It can take several hours to sort and deliver all of these bags. Know that you may not have access to your luggage for the first day onboard. Pack your carry-on with this in mind. Bathing suits, sunscreen, and extra clothes – anything you might need that first day should be in your carry-on bag.
5. Tipping. Be sure to budget in tips to your overall trip costs. Some cruise lines automatically add in a standard tip – anything above and beyond that is up to you. The general rule of thumb is $10, per person, per day. So, a couple with two teenagers on a seven-day cruise could expect to leave $280 in tips. Every cruise line is different and if the tip is included it will be made clear. Some other examples are the presence of small envelopes for inserting cash or having gratuity automatically added to your tab.