Cruise planning tips for beginners

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Have you decided to start planning cruises this year? There is nothing more relaxing and spectacular than a cruise. However, if this is your first time, with so many choices available, the task can be daunting. Here we offer you our professional tips to help you find the perfect option.

10 professional tips for beginners

When you travel on a cruise ship, you want it to be the perfect experience. Holidays should always be unforgettable and there is nothing like enjoying the open sea, experiencing natural / historical sites and traveling from port to port.

What is your budget

The budget is the most important factor. Think about how much you will be spending overall on your vacation, including round-trip transport from the cruise port, the actual cruise, and the activities you do on land. They don’t want you to run out of money.

While there are adverts for cruises for $ 49 per day per person, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cruises are the best value for money when it comes to vacation. Compared to other forms of travel, the tariff covers a large part of the costs.

In addition, there are many activities on board the ship, restaurants with different types of food, entertainment and amenities.

It should be noted that not everything is included in the cruise price. You need to budget for fees, port taxes, and tips. Things like WiFi, specialty restaurants, drinks, spa treatments, and shore excursions all cost extra.

Make sure you budget the extras and maybe a bit of a buffer just in case.

Where do you want to go?

Now you need to determine your goal. More and more regions of the world are being opened up with cruise ships. However, most people choose to: a. to visit Top cruise destination like a Caribbean island, especially if it’s your first time.

Photo credit: Nick Starichenko / Shutterstock

When planning your cruise, keep in mind that prices vary depending on the duration of the cruise and the destination. Also, some travel destinations such as Europe, Canada, Bermuda, New England and Alaska are seasonal. Your vacation time must be planned accordingly.

Prices can also vary depending on the time of year. Expensive times are usually during the holidays, school holidays and summer. In terms of seasonal ports, the most favorable times to travel are usually early or late in the season.

Know the health restrictions

Since the beginning of COVID-19, cruises have been looking a little different. Cruise lines implement different Health and Safety Regulations. For example, many sail at reduced capacity with changes to entertainment, activities, and restaurants.

Choose your cruise line and ship

There are over 350 ocean cruise lines available, with each cruise line offering different approaches and styles. Most will appeal to families and couples. However, some people have certain preferences that should be taken into account.

Royal Caribbean vs. Carnival Cruise Line
Photo credit: Ramunas Bruzas / Shutterstock

Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines offer diversity in terms of groups that span multiple generations. Viking Cruises is considered a luxury brand. Although it can cost more, it is an all-inclusive experience.

Choosing the right cruise line depends on what you want to get from your vacation. Even within these brands there is a multitude of ships with different functions. However, not all ships offer the same forms of entertainment, food and fun.

Book early

The best deals come to those who book early. For the best deal, it is recommended to book 6-12 months in advance. Prices generally do not decrease over time. If so, you may be able to adjust the price.

Booking early ensures both a lower price and better cabins. Popular categories fill up quickly, as do destinations on newer ships. Top locations are from the center of the ship to the upper decks.

Also, if you are prone to seasickness, avoid the front and rear positions (the very back or front of the ship).

Understand your cruise price

Cruise ship prices vary depending on certain factors. Prices can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars depending on the ship, itinerary, cruise line, region, and time of year.

But overall, cruises are similarly expensive. The price indicated on the website is the lowest cabin category per double occupancy. It is also usually the most favorable time of the year. The prices quoted are before fees and taxes. Take this into account. They can also increase based on the week you choose.

Save money on cruising

Better locations for rooms or categories also have an impact on the price.

The basic tariffs do not include “discounts” for large cruise lines. Celebrity cruises can be the exception as the prices are always included. The basic tariff usually includes classic drinks, tips and simple WiFi. While extras may not be included, some lines have promotions and specials throughout the year.

Decide on your cabin

Cruise lines have a variety of accommodations. Familiarize yourself with the size and inclusions of the cabin categories. This will help you determine the best setup for your family or yourself.

In addition to interiors, balcony rooms and sea views, other cabin classes can have additional privileges. They usually vary depending on the cruise line.

Carnival Sunrise cabin
Photo: Copyright Cruise Hive

One possibility is guaranteed cabins where you will be booked for a cabin of your category. You will not be given a cabin number or location until you receive your final boarding documents. Even if you do not choose your exact room, you have the advantage that it is the cheapest price for your category with the potential for an upgrade.

How to save money

When planning your cruise, you want to save some money. Aside from the above, there are additional ways Ways to save money.

If you’ve been driving from a nearby port, you don’t have to pay airfare or other travel expenses. Cruises for the Bahamas or the Caribbean are also usually cheaper than other destinations. Even with older ships that don’t have as many amenities, the costs are lower.

The best ways to save money while on a cruise
Photo: Copyright Cruise Hive

Some cruise companies also have their own loyalty credit cards that you can use to earn points for discounts, free cruises, and onboard credit.

Create an online account

Once set up, create an account on the cruise line’s website. There you can view your reservation and plan activities. You can also view sales for things like WiFi, beverage packages, excursions, and spa treatments. You can also make reservations for entertainment and specialty restaurants.

Fly out a day early

Do not arrive on the morning of your cruise or just before the departure time. Planes can be delayed for various reasons and the ship will depart without you. Always plan to arrive the day before departure to ensure you can get on board on time.

Cruise flight
Photo by: Remon Rijper (Creative Commons)

Final advice

Here are a few last minute tips to help you enjoy your cruise:

  • When packing, keep your destination in mind and prepare for the weather
  • Pack suitable outfits for outings, including shoes
  • Bring your own disinfectants, disinfectant sprays, and masks
  • Download the cruise ship app to view activities and make reservations
  • Complete your online check-in three days before departure
  • Take your travel documents and passport with you
  • Pack important items in hand luggage to make them easily accessible
  • Switch your smartphone to airplane mode while on board to avoid roaming charges
  • Make sure you participate in the drill pattern.

Also, do not book an early return flight home. Pay the account before leaving the ship and do a self checkout when you can manage your baggage. You don’t want to book a flight that’s too early to go home. It is even recommended to stay an extra day.

Ship departures can be affected by technical difficulties, weather, port customs clearance and other factors. Plus, the COVID-19 tests also affect your schedule.

Cruise lines generally advise passengers not to book flights before noon. Waiting at an airport is better than postponing a missed flight.

These tips will make your first cruise experience a little more comfortable and less overwhelming. A cruise should be fun for everyone and relatively stress-free. The memory of your cruise should be remembered and positive for many years to come.

Cruise planning


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