The Ultimate Cruise Vacation Guide

Cruise vacations take a lot of research and preliminary planning, but once you’re on board, you can let the crew handle everything while you live the vacation up to its name and cruise happily along.

1. Planning Ahead

The first step of planning a cruise vacation is, well, is planning what to plan. There are cruises that go to different climates and focus their day trips differently (perhaps beaches versus cultural or historical sites, for example). While cruise ships operate just about anywhere in the world that has enough water, one of the most popular destination is the Caribbean– and with its climate, that’s understandable. Cruise lines also offer different atmospheres on board. Perhaps you want a comfortable family vacation or an adult only cruise that can either be older and sophisticated or younger and more of a party-atmosphere.


2. Budgeting

It is also important to consider the budget. Many cruisers end up spending just as much on shopping excursions, adventure activities and drinks as they do on the cruise fare. Plan your budget and pick your level of cruise luxury accordingly.

3. Finding Deals

No matter how many stars your cruise ship has, there are ways to pay less. The easiest way is to time your booking. Prices are lower if you book well ahead (minimum six months) and you can ask your agent about a price guarantee so that the difference will be refunded to you if the price does drop.

The opposite choice is to book very last minute, as in a few days before embarkation. Keep in mind, though, last minute cruise deals may mean expensive last minute flights.

Another way to get great deals is to cruise in the off-season. Very few people travel to the Caribbean during hurricane season, but what they forget is that hurricane warnings come a few days in advance, which is ample time for the boat to park and arrange for your safety. If that’s too risky, plan to travel around school vacations, such as in November or April.


4. Getting to the Point

Some travel agencies shave their own airline, so you can get a package that includes transportation to the embarkation point. Sometimes, you can find a flight on your own that costs less than adding a flight to your cruise package, but make sure you calculate the cost of getting from the airport to the embarkation point and fly well in advance so if there’s a delay, you don’t risk missing the boat.

5. What to Bring

The fun part of planning is packing. Because your accommodation on a cruise ship accompanies you to different locations, you only have to unpack once. Some take this to mean they can bring more stuff and be extra-prepared while others prefer to bring less in case cruise cabins are small or they need a quick exit from a slightly delayed plane trip.
Bring a nice outfit, in case you hit the ship’s specialty restaurant, but you’ll want to wear light comfortable clothing most of the time that won’t get clammy if there’s a lot of humidity. Bring an extra swimsuit and be prepared for weather with a light weight rain jacket that can be layered with a sweater if you get chilled or be worn on its own in tropical downpours.

Because the ships are so big, most people don’t get seasick, but just in case, most cruise ships will have free remedies on board, from actual medications to green apples and saltine crackers. It still may be a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what motion sickness medication would be best for you so you can bring a little pack.

Whatever you pack, make sure to bring walking shoes and leave extra room. You’ll have day trips into towns and villages where you’re sure to find all sorts of unique things you just can’t get at home! Before landing, ask your cruise crew or do a bit of research about skipping the ship’s lunch and splurging on a local eatery for a taste of local flavours and culture.

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