By Anna Lynn Sibal
Going on your first cruise is very exciting, especially when you do not have much opportunity to travel. What is nice about going on a cruise is that you can really take time to be leisurely, to relax and enjoy yourself.
However, if it is your first time to go on a cruise, planning it can be a real challenge. There are so many details that you have to consider, so if you are not a seasoned traveler, the details of planning out a cruise can be overwhelming. Thankfully, all these necessary details of preparing for a cruise can be summarized into the following ten pointers.
Age matters. Who is going on the cruise with you? Is it going to be you and your friends, you and your significant other, or you and your family? The cruise you would be going to should be one that caters to your age and that of the people coming with you. If you have kids tagging along, pick a cruise that is family-friendly. If you want to have time off with your honey, go on a cruise that is mostly adults only.
Budget. How much are you willing to spend for your cruise? The cost of going on a cruise is not exactly peanuts; thus, you need to determine for yourself just how much you are going to spend for it. If you are working on a budget, it is best to do a bit of cost comparison. You can also cut a few corners by having more than two people share a cabin, as well as by timing your booking either six months in advance or less than two months before the journey to get some discounts.
Time. How long will you be on vacation? If you are only thinking of going on a long weekend, you can go on a cruise to nowhere, where the ship will only go out to sea, then turn back. A week can get you on an island-hopping tour of the Caribbean, while two weeks or more can get you around the world.
Season. When do you want to go on your cruise? The peak season for cruising is during summer and winter, so expect cruise packages to be expensive then. Some cruising lines offer cruises to some destinations only on certain months. An example of this are cruises to Northern Europe, which is available only from May to September. Some cruises to other destinations are available yearlong, like Mediterranean cruises.
Destination. Where in the world do you want to go on a cruise? You can go virtually anywhere on a cruise. Pick a destination and do your homework on the destination of your choice.
Activities. What do you want to do on your cruise? If you are into history and culture, you can go on a European cruise. European cruises often include city tours and visits to museums and cultural sites. On the other hand, if you are into ocean sports and island-hopping, a tropical cruise is the one for you.
Cabin accommodations. In which part of the ship do you wish to stay? You can easily get a deck plan of the ship you will be sailing in when you go on this cruise. The deck plan can help you decide where in the ship you want to stay.
Dinner. What time do you like to have your dinner? Cruise ships usually schedule dinnertime for their passengers. Early seating is usually at 6pm while late seating is at 8pm. Early seating allows passengers to have more time trying out the nightlife on shore but gets them rushing to be ready for dinner. On the other hand, late seating lets a passenger have ample time to prepare for dinner, but does not leave them much time to enjoy the nightlife. Many cruise ships, however, offer open seating (6:30pm to 9:30pm).
Dress. Do you like dressing up for dinner? Some cruise ships require their passengers to dress formally or semi-formally during dinnertime, especially the more traditional ones. Some cruise ships, on the other hand, are more loose with regards the dress code.
Getting there. How will you get to your point of embarkation? Some cruise lines offer fly-cruise packages, where the plane ride to the point of embarkation is included and a shuttle service takes the passengers from the airport to the ship. If you prefer flying independently, try to get at least a day ahead to the point of embarkation so you do not have to worry about delayed or canceled flights.
If you feel that you cannot handle all these details alone, feel free to seek help from your travel agent. They will be more than happy to assist you with planning your first cruise.