In these times we live in, sometimes its necessary to just get away from it all and go on a vacation that will refresh your senses and reinvigorate your spirit. Cruise ship vacations are the perfect way to relax, have fun, meet new people and create lifetime memories.
When you see those cruise line commercials on TV, they make you want to just drop everything, contact your nearest cruise vacation center and buy your tickets to fun and adventure. Before you book that cruise, it’s best to do a little research first to make sure you get the most out of this experience.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Discounts on Cruises
Never pay list price for a cruise. Go online and do your homework. Look for all inclusive deals that include cabin, meals, entertainment, activities and room service for a bargain price.
A way to get the cheapest price for cruise vacations is to book late, when the line is willing to offer discounts to attract more passengers. This is called last minute booking. The only drawback is that you probably won’t get the better cabins.
Another way to get discount cruise vacations is to book way in advance. Some lines are willing to offer up to 50% in savings for advance booking. You can even book your next cruise while you’re on board your current one.
Consider going on a repositioning cruise. These usually last between 9 – 18 days (or longer) and involve long stretches at sea as the ship sails to a more favorable port, between seasons, for weather reasons. These are always cheaper than regular cruises with lots of port of call destinations. However, you’ll be spending a lot more time and money on board. Perfect for those who want to just kick back and relax.
You’ll get better discounts if you travel in a group rather than going it alone.
Booking a Cabin
When it comes to cruise ships cabins, there’s a wide variety to choose from. Get a cruise vacation brochure for the ship you’re interested in and study the ship’s layout. Decide if you want an ocean view, regular suite or balcony. The nicer the cabin, the more money you’ll spend, but, if a spectacular view is important to you, then it may be worth it.
Don’t book a cabin that’s anywhere near the anchor or the engine area. You’ll avoid feeling unpleasant vibrations.
Occasionally, unexpected events happen that can delay or even cancel cruises. You’ll want to purchase cruise insurance so that you can get your money back in case you are unable to take the cruise because of bad weather or some other unforeseen bad luck.
Boarding the Ship
Remember to bring your passport and all other documentation you’ll need in order to board the ship.
Read all the important information concerning your luggage. Don’t over pack that suitcase, because you’re most likely going to go shopping during the trip and you don’t want to be told you can’t bring back those precious souvenirs because of space restrictions.
Sometimes bags can go missing, so make sure you put your own luggage tags on your bags, as well as, the ones the ship provides so they can easily be found.
Pack any essential medication into a carry on bag.
There’s no need to arrive super early to be the first on the ship. Most ships don’t start boarding until 11:30 am – 12:30 pm.
There is a mandatory safety drill that you must attend. Don’t try to avoid it by hiding in your cabin – you’ll only force the crew to come looking for you. Besides, this information can be a real life saver is something unexpected happens. Instead of panicking, you’ll know exactly what to do.
The ship will ask you to set up a C Note Card while on board. This is like a credit card that you’ll use instead of cash. You can always stop at the reception desk to check up on how much has been charged to your account. The ship purser can help you resolve any disputed charges.
Most of the crew on board make their money from tips. These tips (or gratuities) will be added to your bill. You can adjust your tips up or down depending on the quality of service you receive.
A great tip on how to save money on a cruise ship is to take advantage of the duty free shopping on and off board. You can find fantastic bargains for items of up to 60% off retail price.
Port of Call Destinations
For convenience, you can book shore excursions with the cruise line. They will know all the most popular cruise destinations.
You don’t have to leave the ship during a port of call if you don’t want to. You can stay on board and enjoy watching movies, get a spa treatment or do any other numerous activities.
If you do go out exploring, always know when the ship leaves port and keep track of the time. Cruise ships follow a strict departure schedule and they won’t wait for you to return before leaving. If you happen to get left behind, you’ll need to catch the ship at it’s next stop on your own dime.
Dining on Board
There is literally an endless variety of foods on board that are available around the clock. You can enjoy many of your favorite foods on a cruise – just like you do at home.
If you like fine dining, be sure to make your reservations in advance since it takes extra time to prepare fancier meals. Also, you should assume that you’ll pay more for a deluxe meal.
If you are on a diet, or have specific dietary needs, be sure to request your specific food items ahead of time. Most ships will customize meals for you, and even deliver to your cabin. Special needs can include, low salt, low fat, no wheat, etc.
It’s cheaper to buy a phone card and wait until you can go on shore to use it, than calling from the ship.
Bring 2-way radios with you to keep track of family members.