If you’re looking forward to your very first cruise, here are a few tips that can help you start out feeling like a seasoned cruiser.
Remember that your cruise fare includes your cabin and most of the dining and entertainment on board, but some things cost a bit extra. For example, meals in the main dining room and at the buffet are included in your fare; but, your ship may also have specialty restaurants that charge a small fee.
Most onboard dining is included in your fare, but most beverages probably are not. On many ships, the only free beverages are plain water, coffee, and tea. The good news is that cruise lines sell beverage packages that provide discounts on soft drinks, juice, specialty coffee and tea, wine, beer, cocktails, and more.
On most ships, gratuities for the crew are automatically added to the onboard account you’ll settle at the end of the cruise, so there’s no need to tip separately. And if you pay for individual drinks or specialty restaurant meals, a service charge is automatically added to the tab.
Your ship will offer a variety of tours and activities, called shore excursions, in each port. These fun pursuits are usually not included in your fare, except on some luxury ships. You do have the option to stay on the ship while it’s in port, which can be a nice opportunity to enjoy the pool, fitness center, spa, and other amenities. You can also tour a port on your own; just be sure to get back to the ship on time.
Many ships offer tours on the first day of a cruise; join one to find out where everything is.
Cruise ship designers do a terrific job, but storage space in your cabin will be limited. Pack lightly and bring clothing you can wear in different combinations.
Finally, this is our top tip for your first cruise: work with Anita, a professional travel advisor, to select a cruise line, ship, itinerary, and cabin that meet your needs, interests, schedule, and vacation budget. Every cruise line, ship and destination offers something a little different than the others, and it can be incredibly challenging to navigate it all on your own. That’s why guidance from a professional is so important to have a great first cruise experience. Plus, cruise travel professionals earn much of their income from commissions paid by the cruise lines, rather than by you.
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