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10 Great Tips For First-Time Cruisers

Updated on June 25, 2012

You finally decided to take that cruise that you had been thinking about for a long time. You look at these cruise ads and everything looks absolutely perfect. And indeed, what can go wrong? A beautiful boat filled with entertainments, restaurants, pools and nice accommodations; different ports full of great places to visit and etc. In reality, a lot of things can go wrong if you go on a cruise unprepared. Plus, if you do your research in advance, you can tremendously improve your cruise vacation and even save some money. I did my research before my first cruise and I found that following tips were very helpful. I hope these tips will help you too. Bon voyage!

Book your cruise in advance

Whatever you read about last minute booking, if you are planning a cruise on a popular route in a ‘hot time’, you won’t find last minute discounts. Generally, six month in advance booking can give you a variety of choices and even lower rates.

Hire a cruise-only travel agent

Even if you usually book everything on-line, booking a cruise is much more complicated than booking a flight or a hotel. There are many cruise-only travel agencies, which sell nothing but cruises. And often these agencies can offer discounted fares and different types of onboard credits. Plus, the cruise travel agent will advise you on anything about a cruise from cruise itineraries to cabin configurations to buffet selections.

Book your flight and pre-embarkation hotel by yourself

Your travel agent or cruise line representative would probably try to book your airfare and pre-embarkation hotel for you. But you can save some money if you do it on-line by yourself. Or at least try to shop around and compare prices.

Don’t miss the boat

Fly into the port city a day or two before the cruise begins to make sure that any possible flight delays or cancellations wouldn’t affect your cruise vacation.

Not everything is included

You’re almost always charged extra for soft drinks, bottled water and alcohol on a cruise. As I learn, most of cruise lines offer free juices at meal time, but otherwise you’ll pay for those too. But most of cruise lines allow bringing some amount of your own alcohol on board. So, choose wisely. Bring your favorite wine or Champagne - you will save a lot of money.

Learn more about cruise destinations

With limited time in port, it is better to know in advance where you would like to go and what you would like to see. You can be overwhelmed in a big port without any idea what to do for the next few hours. Even if you’ve booked an excursion, you still can have some time left. So, use this time wisely and have fun!

Book your own shore excursions

Even though everything you need on a cruise is neatly arrange: food, entertainment, ports and etc. you can design your own ‘land itinerary’. And usually you can get better deal on a day trip if you arrange it by yourself rather than through the cruise line.

Make your cabin more livable

It could be wise to bring your own alarm clock (some cruise lines’ cabins don’t have it), power strip (many cabins have only one outlet), fragrance beads (just to make your cabin smell nice) and etc.

Don’t get seasick

If you go on a cruise for a first-time, it is better to be prepared (just in case) for a possible seasickness. Bring your own medicine. Some avid cruisers suggest that candied ginger is a good remedy for seasickness. And some cruise lines offer it with after-dinner mints. Others suggest that Sea-Bands (special bracelets that apply pressure to the inside of the wrist) are very effective to prevent seasickness.

Check-out the day before disembarking

In order to avoid the check-out traffic jam, ask for your bill the day before disembarking. If there are any discrepancies, you can resolve them earlier and then enjoy your last hours on a boat.

Please, share your cruise experience and add your tips for first-time cruisers to the list.


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