Cruise planning tips for beginners


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

10 professional tips for beginners

When it comes to traveling on a cruise ship, you want it to be the perfect experience. Holidays should always be memorable, and there is nothing better than enjoying the open sea, seeing natural / historic sites and traveling from port to port.

What is your budget?

The budget is the most important factor. Consider how much you’ll spend overall on your vacation, including round-trip trips from the cruise port, the cruise itself, and the activities you’ll be doing ashore. You don’t want to run out of money.

While there are advertisements for cruises at $ 49 per day per person, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Cruises offer the best value for money when it comes to vacations. If you compare it to other forms of travel, the fare covers a large part of the cost.

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

It should be noted that not everything is included in the price of the cruise ship. You will need to budget for fees, port taxes, and tips. Things like Wi-Fi, food, drinks, spa treatments, and shore excursions all cost extra.

Make sure to include the extras in your budget and maybe a bit for a tampon just in case.

Where do you want to go?

You must now determine your destination. More and more parts of the world are becoming accessible by cruise ships. However, most people choose to visit a upscale cruise destination like a Caribbean island, especially if it’s their first time.

Photo credit: Nick Starichenko / Shutterstock

When planning your cruise, keep in mind that prices vary depending on the length and destination of the cruise. Additionally, some destinations, such as Europe, Canada, Bermuda, New England, and Alaska, tend to be seasonal. Your vacation time will need to be planned accordingly.

Prices may also vary depending on the time of year. Expensive times tend to be vacation, school vacations, and summer. In terms of seasonal ports, the cheapest journey times tend to be early or late in the season.

Know the health restrictions

Since the onset of COVID-19, the cruise has been a bit different. Cruise lines implement different health and safety orders. For example, many navigate at reduced capacity with changes in entertainment, activities and meals.

Choose your cruise line and ship

There are over 350 ocean-going cruise ships available, with each cruise line offering different approaches and styles. Most will appeal to families and couples. However, some people have certain preferences that need to 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 multigenerational groups. Viking Cruises is considered a luxury brand. While it may cost more, it offers an all-inclusive experience.

Choosing the right cruise line depends on what you want to receive from your vacation. Even within these brands there are a variety of vessels with different characteristics. However, not all ships have the same forms of entertainment, food and pleasure.

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 don’t go down over time. If so, you may be able to get a price adjustment.

Booking early guarantees both a lower price and better cabins. Popular categories fill up quickly, as do destinations on newer ships. The prime locations are mid-ship to the upper decks.

In addition, if you are prone to seasickness, avoid the forward and aft locations (all aft or forward of the ship).

Understanding the price of your cruise

Cruise ship rates fluctuate based on certain factors. The price can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the ship, route, cruise line, region, and time of year.

But overall, the cruises are the same price. The price advertised on the website is for the lowest cabin category per double occupancy. It also tends to be the cheapest time of the year. The advertised rates are before fees and taxes, so take that into account. They can also increase depending on the week you select.

Save Money Cruise

Better locations for rooms or categories will also affect the price.

Base fares do not include “perks” for major cruise lines. Celebrity Cruises may be the exception, as its prices are always included. Base rate tends to include regular drinks, tips, and basic Wi-Fi. While extras may not be included, some lines will have special promotions and sales throughout the year.

Decide on your cabin

Cruise ships have a variety of accommodations. Make sure you understand the size and inclusions of the cabin categories. This will help you determine the best setup for yourself or your family.

In addition to the interior, rooms with balconies and ocean views, other categories of cabins may benefit from additional privileges. They tend to vary depending on the cruise line.

Carnival Sunrise cabin
Photo: Author’s cruise hive

One option is guaranteed cabins in which you will be booked for a cabin of your category. You will not receive a cabin number or location until you have received your final boarding documents. Even if you don’t choose your exact room, the perks are that it will be the cheapest price for your category with the potential for an upgrade.

How to save money?

When planning your cruise, you will want to save some money. Besides the means mentioned above, there are other ways to save money.

If you’ve been sailing from a nearby port, you won’t need to purchase an airline ticket or other travel expenses. Cruise bookings to the Bahamas or the Caribbean also tend to be cheaper than other destinations. The costs are also lower for older ships that don’t have as many amenities.

The best ways to save money on a cruise
Photo: Author’s cruise hive

Some cruise lines also have their own loyalty credit cards, which allow you to earn points for discounts, free cruises, and onboard credit.

Create an online account

Once you’re set up, create an account on the cruise line’s website. There you can view your reservation and plan activities. You’ll also be able to see sales on things like Wi-Fi, drink packages, excursions, and spa treatments. You can also make reservations for entertainment and specialty restaurants.

Fly away a day earlier

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

Cruise flight
Photo by: Remon Rijper (Creative Commons)

Final tips

Here are some last-minute tips to make the most of your cruise:

  • Think about your destination when packing and be prepared for the weather
  • Take appropriate clothing for excursions, including shoes
  • Bring your own disinfectant, disinfectant sprays and masks
  • Download the cruise line app to view activities and create reservations
  • Check in online three days before departure
  • Take your travel documents and passport
  • Pack essentials in hand luggage for easy access
  • Put your smartphone in airplane mode once on board to avoid roaming charges
  • Be sure to attend Muster Drill (safety drill)

Also, don’t book an early return flight upon your return. Set the account before you leave the ship and make an automatic payment if you can handle your luggage. You don’t want to book a flight too early to get home. In fact, it is recommended to stay an extra day.

Ship departures can be affected by technical difficulties, weather conditions, port customs clearance and other factors. Additionally, COVID-19 testing will also have an impact on your schedule.

Cruise lines generally recommend that passengers avoid booking their flights before noon. Waiting at an airport is better than trying to reschedule a missed flight.

These tips will make your first cruise ship experience a bit more comfortable and less overwhelming. A cruise should be enjoyed by everyone and relatively stress-free. The memory of your cruise should stay with you for years to come, and it should be positive.

Cruise planning tips


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