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If we were to truly make a list of cruise tips, it would probably never end. There are so many tips and tricks out there for cruising – how to get the best deals, packing hacks, stateroom comparisons, etc. But these 10 tips help sum up a general guide on how to make the most of your cruise vacation.
1. Get a travel agent.
You should do this before you do anything. An agent won’t cost you a dime, and they can help you get the best rate and find the best cruise line, ship, and itinerary to fit your needs. They can also help you get onboard credit if the price drops as well as other perks, so it’s a no-brainer.
2. Study your ship.
This one is important. While your travel agent should give you some tips about your ship, you should also do some research of your own. Some ships have more to offer than others in terms of onboard activities – for example, water slides, rock climbing, surfing, zip-lining, specialized bars or restaurants – so it’s important to know what will be available to you before you go so you can take full advantage of these amenities.
3. Pre-book your plans.
When it comes to cruising, there’s not much that you can’t pre-book. Whether you’re thinking about a spa service, a specialty restaurant reservation, or your shore excursions, you can reserve any and all of these ahead of time. And you should, as they can sell out. On some ships, the evening shows also require reservations which can be made before you cruise as well.
4. Research the ports.
While some ports are rich in history and would be best for a historical city tour, other ports are best for a beach break day, and then still other ports are best for the more adventurous crowds like zip-lining, cave-tubing, or climbing a waterfall. You’ll want to be prepared to know which port is best for what, so do some research ahead of time or talk to your travel agent. Be sure to keep a budget in mind for your excursions while you plan, and consider things like taxis, tips for tour guides, photos, souvenirs, etc.
5. Don’t overpack.
This is a tough one, but the truth is you never need as much as you think. When packing, try to pick versatile clothing that can be worn for day wear as well as dressed-up for dinner, and pack as few shoes as possible, as they seem to take up the most room in a suitcase. The less you bring, the less clutter you will have in your stateroom and the more room you will have in your suitcase to bring home souvenirs. You can read our packing tips article here.
6. Come hungry.
Cruises are known for having amazing and world-famous cuisine, so don’t be afraid to try new plates and flavors. If you’re eating in the main dining room, remember that you can order as many appetizers, entrees, and desserts as you’d like – it’s all included. That being said, if your ship offers specialty dining venues, this is one aspect of your cruise you should absolutely splurge on.
7. Be flexible and adaptable.
Sometimes, cruise ships are forced to cancel a port of call. While it’s disappointing to miss a port that you’ve probably spent months planning your visit to, understand that when a ship cancels a port of call it is always done out of safety for the passengers and crew. Remember, there are worse places to be than vacationing on a cruise with a modified itinerary, and make the best of your new adventure!
8. Buy trip insurance
You may be convinced that you don’t need trip insurance, but this is one item you shouldn’t leave out of the budget. If your flight gets cancelled and you miss embarkation day for your cruise, trip insurance will cover the cost to get you there. If you get sick onboard and find yourself with a bill for thousands of dollars from the ship’s medical team, trip insurance will cover it. If you need to cancel your cruise after final payment date, many times trip insurance will cover that too. Of course, specific coverage always depends on what plan you actually buy, and your travel agent can help with that. But don’t make the mistake of cruising without it. If you need more convincing, you can probably find some horror stories online from people who didn’t think they’d need it… but did.
9. Put your phone on airplane mode.
For one, you should do this to avoid roaming charges from your cell phone service provider. But you should also do this because you’re on vacation. Unplug. Although cruise lines can offer high-speed Internet for incredibly affordable prices these days, don’t get it. Leave everything behind for a few days and just enjoy your vacation in the moment.
10. Have FUN!
Some of us can get so caught up in the planning, coordinating, and organizing that we forget to sit back and enjoy ourselves. Sure, plan for your cruise and come prepared, but don’t overdo it. Leave a little to the imagination and let yourself be surprised. Kick back, relax, and soak in that ocean horizon view.
What cruise tips do you have?