So you’re thinking of booking a long cruise. Whether you’re looking for excitement and adventure or want something luxurious and more relaxed, your goal is to have fun and make the most of your limited time on board. But if you’re new to cruise vacations, it’s easy to commit a few seemingly innocuous mistakes that could cause you to lose time and money. And since you’re on a large ship in the middle of the ocean, there’s little you can do to rectify them.
Cruise vacations offer a lot of advantages to travelers who keep things simple. To start with, you get to visit multiple places (also known as ports of call) without having to pack and unpack multiple times. It’s like having a hotel follow you around. Also, you’ll never run out of places to eat or drink or unwind. Many cruise ships have dozens of dining options and you don’t have to wait long for a reservation. Best of all, you can easily book a cruise with a quick visit to a travel agent.
Cruise lines go to great lengths to make the whole experience easy or simple, but certain aspects of a cruise vacation can be daunting to newbies. Here are a few things you need to remember before and during a cruise.
Fly to the port a day before departure
The average cruise vacation costs $1,800, and that doesn’t include your round-trip airfare, gratuities, and extras. You don’t want your money to go down the drain just because you missed the ship. The only way to ensure you won’t miss your vacation is to arrive at the port a day before departure. Stay at a nearby hotel so you won’t have to travel far.
Since most cruises leave port in the afternoon, some travelers think it’s acceptable to fly in the morning. But all it takes to ruin your plans is one traffic jam or a flight delay. And once the ship sets sail, it’s not coming back for you.
If the departure port is abroad, you might want to allocate two to three days for travel time, especially if you have to go to Europe or Asia. This will give you enough time to recover from your flight and hit the ground running once you embark on the voyage.
Pack your essentials in your carry-on
Upon your arrival at the port for check-in, your luggage will be taken away and delivered to your cabin or suite. If you’re used to the budget hotel experience, this can be a welcome convenience. You don’t have to lug your heavy bags through flights of stairs in a gigantic ship. However, this also means you’ll have to wait a few hours before you can get your things.
Make sure to pack everything you need in a carry-on bag. This includes your laptop, camera, chargers, medication, and maybe even a change of clothes. If you want to hit the pool deck right away, you can also carry your favorite swimwear and sunscreen with you.
Do some research about the ports of call
While you’re onboard a cruise ship, everything you want, whether it’s food, alcohol, entertainment, or shopping, is easily accessible. You’re also safe from scammers and grifters who can ruin your vacation. The only thing you need to do is to swipe your band or hand over your credit card. But once you’re off the ship, you’ll have to be more prepared.
You need to do some research about the ports the ship is going to visit during the cruise. The cruise line might offer a handy guidebook or a map, but they’re only going to show you the major tourist attractions and a few gift shops. If you want to have an authentic experience, scour the Internet for reviews and travel guides. You might be able to find something fun and exciting away from the guided tours.
Cruise vacations are designed to make everything easier for the traveler, but it also helps to prepare ahead of time. If you want to make the most of your time on the cruise, going to the port early and packing your essentials in a handy bag allow you to enjoy the ship right away. The less time you spend worrying, the better.