Many people travel to different places every year and never think about the many exciting adventures that they could have if they were to go on a cruise. They do not realize the additional experiences and great benefits that come with boarding a cruise ship and setting sail. Few vacations allow you to have everything included in the price of your trip but a cruise is one of them.
When you are traveling on a cruise you can get amazing services and benefits from massages to libraries where you can find hundreds of books to explore and read. There are amazing adventures that you can take part in on the ship or you can participate in optional excursions when you are at different ports and getting off of the ship. There are many options available for you and places where you can go with a cruise.
So this really can be the perfect vacation for anyone. Not only will couples and individuals enjoy cruises but families can enjoy them as well. There is no age range that likes cruises better and everyone from young to old can have a great time.
1. Decide What Cruise You Would Like to Go On With a Spreadsheet
My husband and I usually have trouble picking a cruise. To decide on a cruise we create a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet includes the dates, name of ship, and name of cruise line, price, and other important information. Creating a spreadsheet is a great way to narrow down what cruise to go on. We can then make an informed decision on what cruise to select. Remember different seasons of the year may have different price ranges.
2. Decide the Company to Book the Cruise
After deciding on the cruise, selecting a website to book the cruise though is next. We then use a spreadsheet to make price comparisons. Should we book through the cruise company? With other websites give us other perks such as travel insurance, free tips, or reduce prices on excursions? Something booking with a certain credit card will give you be better deal. Sometimes union offer travel deals also. Checking around for the best price can save you money.
Try adding your cruise to CruiseCompete.com. Travel agents will bid on the cruise you are interested in and give you different prices that may include perks. Then do your research to understand if you feel comfortable booking though a certain company or not.
3. Decide When to Book the Cruise
We like to book our cruise between 60 and 90 days of the cruise. There is less cabin choice, and the cruise may sell out but this is where we find the largest discount on cruises. We also thinking that prices go down a little during the week instead of on the weekend.
4. Decide on Travel Insurance
My husband and I have never bought travel insurance on the 10 cruises we have been on together. That being said, we did drive from Philadelphia to New Orleans once because of a snow storm. At this point we believe if we have a free trip anyway from all of the travel insurance that we saved. You may feel differently about travel insurance. There are many things that you think travel insurance should cover that do not. Some credit cards offer free travel insurance if you book using their card. The choice is up to you and your situation.
5. Understand the Hidden Costs of Cruising
Here is a list of some extra costs to remember when booking a cruise. These are not including in the cruise price:
- Tips about $12 a day per person
- Getting to the port
- Paying for parking
- Gift Shop (Candy)
- Extra Restaurant Fees
6. Consult a Good Packing List
Have a good packing list such as this one from Xpedition Girl Travel Blog. The list should include the weather, things to do a couple days before leaving, car preparation, personal identification, and things to do before you leave the house. You may want to have separate lists for each person in the family. Remember to have pet sitters and house sitters ready if needed. The items that you forget may be very expensive on the cruise ship or maybe even impossible to find.
When you get to the port they will bring your bags to your room for you. You may want to pack a separate carry on to for medicine, flip flops, and other things you may need before you get to your room or in case you bags do not make get to your room. Think about the types of shoes you need. I recommend having at least one pair of flip flops, one pair of dress shoes, and one pair of walking shoes.
7. Check Website For The Amount of Dress Up Dinners
On some cruise ships you need to wear dress up clothes for certain dinners. Usually these dinners are the nights at sea so the girls have time to get ready. Check the cruise line website for the amount of dinners and the definition of dressed up.
One example is one of our friends only brought one pair of dressy pants for dinner. He then got those pants dry cleaned on the ship when he got them dirty. The next night they would not let him eat in the dinning room because he was wearing jeans because his pants were still being dry cleaned. If you do not want to dress up at all on your vacation that is fine too. You just need to eat at the buffet on certain nights.
8. Important Documents
Don’t leave the house without photo identification and passports for each member of your group if needed. You should also print travel documents and have luggage tags ready. If you did not get these materials that is fine too. They can print all your materials when you get there.
Remember to label your bags and remember what color they are. I like to add bright color strings to my black bag so I know which bags are ours. You can take a pictures of your bags with your phone incase they are lost. This way if your bags are lost and you need to fill out paperwork you can identify each bag in detail.
9. Plan Bathroom Bag
Bathrooms on cruise ships are tiny. You can almost go to the bathroom, shower, and brush your teeth at the same time in some cruise ship bathrooms. Most cruise ships provide shampoo and body wash in the bathroom. At this point, most ships do not have a hair dryer. Try to pack in a bags that you can hang on a hook.
10. Stay Organized
The more you organize before you leave the easier the trip will be. I like to pack my clothes on skinny hangers. Then when I get to the room I just hang up my clothes in the closet. You may want to pack kids clothes in a shoe organizer. Each shoe space is one day of clothes per child. I like to pack my jewelry in small tackle boxes. There are some drawers to unpack in the room. When you get there you can take all of the items out of your luggage and store your luggage under your bed.
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