Ready to jump on the cruise bandwagon? It’s a great time to get going with some amazing deals available for ships setting sail for warm Caribbean waters. But if you’re not totally sure where to start, check out these tips from some of the top cruising experts around. They’ll help you get started planning, booking and experiencing the trip of a lifetime!
From Fran Golden, cruise blogger for Porthole Magazine and USA Today:
- Remember to bring a small day bag as part of your packing checklist. Fill the bag with all the essentials (medicines, documentation, swimsuit, and so on) that you’ll need for the first day while you wait for your [checked] bag to be delivered [to your stateroom]. It’ll also come in handy when you’re out exploring the ports of call.
- Book a family-friendly cabin: Many cruise ship cabins are designed for four to share thanks to pull-down bunk beds and/or sofa beds.
From Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief, CruiseCritic.com:
- One of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make is to book a cruise solely based on price alone. Cruise lines these days market to specific travel styles and demographics, and it’s best to figure out which [cruise line] best reflects your interests. Then feel free to hunt for bargains.
- As you shop around, make sure you understand what’s included — and what’s not — in the cruise fare you pay.
- The best way to ensure a relaxing first day onboard is to figure out, pre-cruise, which [activity and dining] reservations are most important to you — and make them! Then your first day of vacation can start immediately.
From Sid Lipsey, contributing editor, Yahoo Travel
- With all the cool stuff there is to see and do onboard a ship (classes, buffets, dancing, comedy, shopping, gambling, ice skating…!) and at the destinations, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the choices. Don’t succumb to that pressure to see and do everything. That’s a surefire recipe for a freak-out. Remember, this is a vacation. Relax! Just make a list of the things you 100 percent must do on this trip and just focus on those. Don’t let FOMO get the better of you; you can always take another cruise!
- Don’t forget to pack your gym clothes. With all the fitness classes offered aboard a cruise ship, it’s a perfect time to take a class in something you’ve never tried before — in a gym where nobody knows you (that way, you won’t feel too embarrassed if you don’t get the hang of TRX right away).
- Another healthy tip: Take the stairs between decks. It’s a great way to help work off all that delicious food you’re eating. And you’ll see more of the ship.
- I like to schedule my meals at the same time as the shows, to miss those pre-show crowds.
- If you decide you want to explore ports of call on your own, you should do a little research to determine what you want to see and how you want to get there (rent a car, reputable local taxi company, etc.). It may sound like work, but I like to think of this kind of research as a little pre-vacation. And it really pays dividends in the end.