Even though it’s a piece of cake compared to booking a conventional vacation, booking your first cruise might seem like an intimidating experience. Do you visit the Komodo national park? Do you opt for an Amazon cruise? Or do you go for something completely else? There are decisions to be made – from where to sail, to which cruise line to opt for, and how to get the most for your money.
So, is there something that can be done in order to make booking your first cruise an easier experience? Yes, there is – our guide below that should help you with some key decisions, especially if you’re one of those people who want to be sure that absolutely everything goes as intended.
Understand what you’re getting into
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The modern cruise experience is actually a pretty large departure from what a vacation is expected to be. Many might be opposed to the idea of a scheduled vacation, they might be nervous about heading out to sea, or they might have a completely wrong idea about what happens on cruises.
The reality is actually quite different. You will find that most of the major cruise lines will give you a host of activities and dining options, and things aren’t really made to a strict schedule. You can do any of the activities, or none of them, and you get quite a lot of versatility. You can dine in one of the onboard restaurants, you can dine in the buffet, or in your room. Nobody is going to force you to sit through a formal dinner with the other passengers, although that’s actually a pretty fun activity on cruises.
And while there are some rare exceptions, cruises are generally some of the safest vacations, especially when you consider that you have very qualified officers and crews that will ensure your safety. You will also find that on-board entertainment has also taken a pretty noticeable step forward, as there are plenty of fun activities to participate in.
With that in mind …
Choose your ideal itinerary
When it comes to conventional open water cruises, you’ll spend quite a lot of time on the ship itself. However, opt for a river cruise, and you’ll find that you spend time visiting interesting port cities and destinations instead. If you want to walk around and spend time exploring cities, a river cruise is ideal. If what you’re after is unwinding on a ship with the occasional tropical paradise visit, an ocean cruise might be a bit better.
Whichever one you go for, make sure you choose an itinerary that has plenty of locations you will actually enjoy. You’ll also want to think about the weather in the destinations you’ll be visiting, as well as the length of the cruise itself. The size of the ship is another thing to decide about, and by all means, consider the high and low seasons. This will significantly impact your entire experience.
Book the cruise and activities early
Just like with most vacations, booking things early will often result in some quite significant savings. Once you’ve picked the time of year to take your cruise, you should try to book the cruise itself as early as possible. The downside to this is that you may not have a good idea of what the weather will be like at those points in time, and there’s always a chance of something unexpected happening and the cruise turning out to be a bit worse than you’ve anticipated.
Once you’ve booked the cruise itself, you’ll want to take a look at the activities and excursions you want to attend. Whether it’s that safari you were dreaming of or a rock climbing experience, many popular excursions tend to sell out quickly. If you only book them once you’re on board, they may not be available. Therefore, book anything you want to go to as soon as possible.
Packing for a cruise is actually different in some regards to packing for a conventional vacation. However, most of the basics are pretty much the same, but you’ll want to be careful. For example, you should check your passport and any required visas, and make sure they’re valid for the entire duration of the trip.
In terms of clothing, you should have a variety of clothes, from lightweight swimwear to formal attire for the formal nights on the cruise. You should get Aloe Vera and sunscreen, and you could get a pair of binoculars if you’re into that. Oh, and a variety of shoe options is key, too.