Helpful Tips for Your Cruise Vacation

norwegian cruise ship

Going on a cruise ship vacation can be a fun, sun-filled travel event where you can experience a scenic new part of the world. You can take cruises to all sorts of places like Alaska, the Virgin Islands or the Greek Islands. During your trip you'll make daily stops at different locations (for example 5 of the different Virgin Islands) to check out the culture, shops and landmarks. Cruises can be anywhere from a week to a month-long journey, depending on what sort of options you go with, but you'll want to be prepared in advance for your big trip.

Here's 10 helpful tips for anyone taking a cruise vacation.

1) Research your cruise line - Many cruise lines cater to specific groups such as families or singles. Age may be a factor when you select the cruise line. You don't want to end up on a family style cruise which could include younger kids running around, if you are looking to relax on board the ship or meet other singles.

2) Look at cruises as a way to tour a future vacation spot - You usually make daily stops at different locations during a cruise. You may find one stop in particular that you find interesting and worth a longer future vacation trip. For example, Santorini is one spot I've found that I'd like to re-visit.

3) Join a cruise message board or forum - Several months prior to your big trip, it's a great idea to join a few cruise message boards. Find message boards or forums which have topics relating to your exact cruise or with topics relating to cruises of the area you will be visiting. You can form great relationships with other potential passengers ahead of time. You can also get great info from those who've been on the same cruise you're going on. This is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for the cruise you're taking.

4) Check into package tours for the cruise stops - If you can splurge, organize a local tour of the spot you're visiting, with a local guide. They will know the area well and be able to take you to the best landmarks, shopping areas and other attractions. Again, you probably will want to use the Cruise chat rooms, message boards and forums to find tours and guides in advance. Keep in mind the location you are visiting. Some locations may be best seen via a boat or ground transportation. Be careful of possible scams if you book these types of tours in advance. We hired a great tour guide when we visited Turkey and still exchange holiday greetings with her.

5) Watch your cruise tab/bill closely -
When you're on your cruise, you are definitely looking to relax and have fun, but don't go "overboard". Be cautious when ordering drinks and special items on board, because this can easily add to your final bill. Almost every cruise ship uses a "running tab" style for drinks and other items. This means you could easily over-spend by ordering drink after drink. At the end of your trip you'd be in for a surprise when you get the final bill. So be cautious with this and set a budget ahead of time. This is especially important if you're taking a family on a cruise, to make sure the kids and teenagers don't go crazy ordering tab drinks!

6) Get to know you cruise staff - It's possible that a staff member from a previous cruise you went on has transferred to another cruise ship you'll be traveling on. We found out that a staffer from a previous cruise had transferred to another cruise ship we were taking. We brought him a gift on the cruise and in return he had a plate of appetizers sent to our room daily to make sure we enjoyed our voyage! It can pay to make friends with all cruise staff, especially if you're going to see them on a future voyage.

7) Barter for some great local deals - You'll find on many cruises of various islands that the local merchants look to tourists to help them make some money. They'll most likely engage in bartering for the various handmade crafts and goods they have for sale. Do your best to talk them into a lower price and pick up some great additional items and souveneir gifts for friends and family back home. There's also "duty free' shopping at many island locations which you should take advantage of if buying gold or silver jewelry. Some cruises offer seminars and lectures on finding good jewelry deals as well.

8) Bring extra items you'll need - You'll want to make sure you have the basics for clothes and toiletries, but also think ahead. If you're bringing a digital camera, you may want to bring additional memory cards and batteries. Most cruise ships and shops will sell these items but they will also take advantage of cruise passengers by charging higher prices on them. Think in advance of first aid items and medical items you'll need such as medications, aspirin, sea sickness remedies, ointments and creams.

9) Budget your time - On an island cruise, you'll most likely want to enjoy as much of each stop as you can. You'll probably do a lot of partying and socializing on board the ship at night, or on travel days. Make sure to be up at a relatively early time so you can enjoy each island you visit and its attractions during the day. You may also want to plan appropriately if there are activities you'd like to enjoy on board the ship, so you can fit everything in.

10) Have fun and enjoy yourself -
This is the most important of the 10 tips, simply have fun and enjoy yourself while on the cruise. There's plenty to do on most cruises, such as sports contests (basketball, ping pong tournaments), dancing at the clubs, hot tubbing or swimming in the pool or checking out the fun nightly entertainment. It can be a lot, so be sure to budget your time for total enjoyment of all activities. Remember to enjoy yourself on board the cruise you take...Bon Voyage!


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