As a certified cruise counselor and travel agent, I get asked this question a lot... "What are some tips for first time cruisers?"
Here are my first 5 tips in order to help you plan for your first cruise vacation:
1. Book in advance
Cruise lines announce their itineraries 18 months or more in advance. Usually at this time the prices are lower and most cruise lines require a small initial deposit to hold your cabin. Beside getting a lower fare when booking in advance you have more room options and locations to choose from. Especially if your are traveling with family and want to have the rooms close to each other, booking in advance is highly recommended. It will also give you more time to pay off your cruise, plan your excursions and if by any reason the price drops your travel agent can always price match it,
2.Always book your excursions with the cruise lines
The primary benefit of booking excursions through the cruise line is that they guarantee your return back to the ship. If you’re on an excursion and for some reason the tour is delayed and cannot come back on time for all aboard, the ship will wait until you’re safely back onboard to set sail. Even though you might get more value for your money with a private excursion is it safer to stick to the cruise lines, especially if it's your first time. It's also convenient and easy to book online through the cruise line’s site before the voyage or on board and some cruise lines will offer discounts when book in advance. Excursions offered by the cruise lines are validated and verified for quality and reliability of the operator and guides.
3. Arrive at your departure port a day before
Because cruises depart in the afternoon, everyone thinks is just fine to fly or drive to port the morning of departure. But we all know delays happens or your car can break down. If you’re delayed in your arrival at the port, the ship will not wait for you. It is very important to plan ahead and we highly recommend our clients to fly a day or two before to avoid any stressful situations. If you are traveling oversees, it is also important to travel in advance to have some time to recover from jet lag. European cruises, in particular, can be intensive, with lots of touring and walking so you want to be refreshed and ready for when the cruise begins.
4. Bring a carry on bag
It is a good idea to bring a carry on bag with you because once you arrive at the port your luggage will be checked and will arrive at your room a couple of hours later. If you check in early you might want to enjoy the pool. If this is the case pack your swimsuit, cover-up, flip-flops, hat and sunscreen. You can also pack your valuable items like, medicines, phone chargers, laptops, camera, and extra clothes for the kids. Also having a carry on for disembarkation is a good idea as you will pack your luggage the night before and leave them outside your door for pick up. With most cruise lines your luggage is collected the night before you disembark and they are put on the pier for you to collect when you have disembarked. A carry on will come in useful as you can pack all the items you need in the morning.
5. Download the cruise app
Most cruise lines now have apps that you can download to your smartphone in advance of sailing. The apps vary in what they offer, but they will all show you a daily list of activities and all of the things that you have reserved. Some will let you make shows and restaurant reservations, as well as book shore excursions and other activities. The best part is that the apps will work on board even if you don’t pay for a Wi-Fi package. The app will always have the ship time and some will even have your onboard account balance so you can keep track of your spending. We highly recommend our clients to download the app before they sail so they can get familiar with it before they arrive to the ship.
Booking your first cruise can be excited but also intimidating. With so many cruise lines options choosing the first ship, itinerary or room can be overwhelming. Let me help you plan your next vacation or reach out to your favorite travel agent. We can guide you to through the process and make sure your are making the right choice depending on your travel needs.
Ready to book your first cruise? Go to our website www.ymgtravels.com and fill out the trip request form under our manage booking tab and together let's say "YES" to new adventures.
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