Tips On Booking Your First Cruise
Taking a cruise for the first time can be exciting adventure. The scenery can constantly change as you wake up in a different port each day, and you only have to pack and unpack once! Keep these helpful tips in mind when booking your first cruise.
Getting to the Ship
Depending on where you live, you will most likely have to do some traveling to reach the port where your ship is. You can drive, fly or take a train. Some cruise lines have specially chartered flights to get to your destination. Sometimes your luggage will be collected at the destination airport and delivered to your cabin. It all depends on which cruise line you choose, so be sure to check yours offers when making travel arrangements.
A typical cruise lasts for seven days. If that is too long for you, many cruise lines offer “taster cruises” that last between two to five days. These have become very popular, so be sure to book early.
Family or Adults Only?
If you are vacationing with children, choose a large resort ship. These provide a safe, hassle-free environment with lots of activities for the kids. Many ships have babysitting services, which allows parents to have time to themselves. Cruises can also be educational, allowing children to interact with others.
If aren’t traveling with children and you don’t like crowds, noise or games, choose a small to mid-size ship. There are many companies that offer adult-only cruises.
Choosing a Cabin
Pick a cabin with an outside-view. If you are concerned with motion sickness, choose a cabin in the midsection of the ship. You won’t be spending a great deal of time in this room, but you will have to at least sleep there.
There are benefits that come with booking early and booking late. If you book early, you could receive discounts, on-board credit, free transfers, cabin upgrade and a choice of cabins. Booking late can have its advantages too. If you book late and are flexible about your travel dates, you could get someone’s cancelled cabin or a big discount. The downside to booking late is you won’t have a choice of cabins and will probably have to choose from cabins with obstructed views, interior cabins, or ones located in noisy areas.
For cruises to Mexico or the Caribbean you will need a US Passport or a picture ID and a birth certificate. Most cruise lines now require you to fill out travel documents online that include your passport number and emergency contact information. It is recommended that you fill these forms out at least eight weeks prior to your departure.
You will typically receive your cruise documents 30 days prior to the cruise. If you book an air/sea package, your documents will come about two weeks prior to your sail date. It is not unusual to receive your documents six weeks before or a week before departure. A lot of it depends on who you book your cruise with. If you book directly with the cruise line, you can expect your documents early. If you booked through an agency, you will receive them closer to the departure date.