If you are thinking about taking a cruise for the first time, you probably have a lot of questions. Where should I go, how do I plan for it, what should I bring with me, and many others. To help you relax and enjoy your first cruise, I have put together a list of questions that I wish I had the answer to prior to my first cruise. This is an evolving list, so feel free to add your question at the bottom and we will reply with our answer.
Should I Fly or Take a Cruise?
Let us assume you have not decided that you want to take a cruise yet, and are weighing the pros and cons for both. This question is on the list because many people are indecisive when it comes to how they want to travel to a destination. If you are someone who simply wants to visit the destination or gets motion sickness very easily, than flying is probably your best bet. However, if you are looking for luxury travel that does not include cramp seats, baggage fees, or jet lag, than cruising is the way to go. A cruise allows you to experience the vacation immediately. It masks the traveling with pools, live entertainment, and all you can eat buffets.
Where Should I Cruise to?
Probably the hardest decision you will have is deciding where you want to cruise to. There are extravagant ports all over the world and there are reasons to visit them all. From the remote islands of the Galapagos to the intrepid glaciers of Alaska there are breathtaking sites no matter where you decide to go. Here are three of the top cruise destinations.
A mysterious place to many, Antarctica is a destination that few people can say they have visited. Although this cruise destination is cold, the sites will keep your heart warm. From glaciers and penguins to whales and icebergs, Antarctica has it all.
If you are looking for a warmer vacation, an Australian cruise package may be the way to go. The land down under offers exciting voyages and wild animals that you have only seen on television or at the zoo. From koala bears and kangaroos to snorkeling with exotic fish, Australia is one of the most sought after cruise destinations.
A cruise to the Caribbean is the true definition of relaxation. The Caribbean beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. This destination is perfect for fun in the sun. A get away to Belize or the Island of Cozumel will entice you to bask by the pool or visit the local shops while at port. Take a cruise to the Caribbean and enjoy the tropical paradises that that area has to offer.
How Do I Book a Cruise?
Where to Look
You can visit a travel agent or look online to find the best cruise deals available. Looking online will provide you with much more options and potentially the best cruise package for your personal situation.
When to Book
If you are looking for the cheapest time to book, it is roughly two months prior to the departure date. This is when final payment is due and the best time for cruise lines to see what cabins are still available. Also consider seasons, during the cooler seasons cruises to Australia or the Caribbean are less sought after, which means you have a better chance of landing a deal.
What Documents Do I Need?
There are documentations that you will need for a cruise. First, you will need a valid passport or a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)/ Trusted Travel Document. It is also recommended that you bring a valid driver’s license in the case that you decide to rent a car while ported in your destination. You will also receive the tangible ticket roughly two weeks prior to the cruise and will need to bring that with you the day of departure.
What Should I Pack?
When packing for a cruise, it is important to consider your destination. If you are going to the warm climates of the Caribbean you will need to pack clothing that fits that environment. Likewise, if you are going on an Alaskan cruise you will need to also pack accordingly. Here is a list of a few items that you may not normally think to pack, but that could really come in handy while on your cruise.
- Toiletries: Many cruises come stocked with general hygiene product, but if you are someone who is used to using a particular shampoo or soap you will want to bring it. If you are hypoallergenic, using your familiar products will avoid any unnecessary outbreaks.
- Medicine (Dramamine): Remember to pack any pertinent medication that you may need throughout the duration of the cruise. Also, if you have never been on the sea before you may become motion sickness. Dramamine is a drug to fight motion sickness and should be packed for any first time cruisers.
- Plug Adapter: Many cruises have European outlets that will require an adapter for your electronics to charge properly. You will be able to purchase it on the cruise, at an inflated price, so if you want to stay in your budget then remember to bring an adapter.
Should I Do an Excursion?
When ported for your cruise, you will have the opportunity to participate in shore excursions. A shore excursion is one of the best ways for you to enjoy the destination. They are professional tours provided by locals that know the area much better than you may. It is a great way for you to learn about the area and see the hot-spots.
There are several approaches for booking an excursion. You can go directly through the cruise line at their fixed price. There is also the option of booking the excursion directly with a company at the port, either online prior to the cruise or when you are docked. The pricing will vary depending on what option, but it is highly recommended to participate in a shore excursion while on your cruise.
Should I Know Anything Else?
There are several layers to planning and traveling by a cruise ship. These are some of the most frequent questions that come into consideration when planning a first voyage. There are certainly many more, so please list any questions that you have or had with regards to cruising.