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Find a Good Cruise and Be Prepared Before You Leave

Cruise deals are not hard to find.  But be sure you know the cruise basics before you embark.

Cruise Time!

The time to let go, forget about home, forget about the next hotel you’re staying in, forgot about everything but relaxing, enjoying magnificent places and having a good time on your vacation cruise.

There are several things you need to know if you have never taken a cruise vacation on a cruise ship. It’s somewhat of a whole new world of vacationing. Some cruises will be perfect for you, some will not. There are many different types of cruises, ranging from adventure on-land excursion cruises, to relaxing stay at sea cruises, to party boats for the younger minded.

So, if you’ve never gone on a cruise before, where do you start - your local travel agent, the cruise ship’s website, or a more generic travel website? Well, it’s really what you can find. There are cruise deals to be had, and plenty of them. If you look in the right places at the right time, it is not hard to find a discount cruise or even a down right cheap cruise. If you are flexible, you may want to search for a last minute cruise special and get a great prices. Just go to any search engine and search on those terms (last minute cruise deals, cruise package, cruise ships, cruise vacations, even cheap cruises). You'll be surprised at the deals you can find.

Where Can You Go on a Cruise?

You can go to so many different vacation spots on a cruise line. You can choose a Caribbean cruise, Alaska cruise, Mediterranean cruise, European cruise, Bahamas cruise, Hawaii cruise, Mexico cruise or a Panama Canal cruise.

What Types of Cruises Are There?

There is a type of cruise to fit every fancy. You can pick from family cruises, singles cruises, honeymoon cruises, luxury cruises, Christian cruises, windjammer cruises, or just plain vacation cruises.

Cruise Tickets

Usually, the prices of a cruise depend on what you want to pay. A windowless room: much less expensive; a windowed room with a beautiful balcony: more pricey; or the adventure package that includes all of the cruise-sponsored activities. There are many options. Some can be decided after boarding the ship. Some must be purchased at the time of buying the ticket.

Flying to the Embarking Port

Since most people will have to fly to their embark location, the extra airline cost must also be figured into the total cost of the trip. Some cruise companies will offer cruise packages which include the flight from any destination, but usually it’s cheaper to shop for airline travel independently.

Boarding

Some careful planning will ensure the vacation starts as soon as you arrive at the port of departure. Just like flying, larger bags are checked and only carry-on-sized luggage is allowed when boarding the ship. So take your bathing suit (so you can hit the pool without waiting for your checked bags), toiletry bag, and important documents.

And don’t forget to take along that passport if you’re heading to some other countries on your trip, especially since the passport laws are constantly changing.

Onboard Activities

Once aboard the ship, there are endless activities. There are cruise activities for every age group. From infant childcare to teen club rooms to elderly activities, there’s always something to do onboard. Many cruise liners today publish a daily flyer with the day’s weather, eating times, shows, special activities, and on land options.

Cruise Packages

Some activities include:

  • casinos
  • swimming pools (some with artificial currents)
  • on board surfing
  • putt putt golf
  • basketball
  • ice skating rinks
  • rock climbing walls
  • work out gyms
  • shopping centers
  • lecturers
  • comedians
  • musicians
  • balls

and the list goes on and on. In a nut shell, boredom is not an option on a cruise ship!

As far as payment goes, as mentioned before, many things are include in the price of the ticket. But to truly explore and maximize time in an exotic location, spending a little more than the ticket price might just be worth it. Most ships now have some sort of onboard card acting like a temporary credit card. This makes it easy to buy a drink and sit by the pool, or go out to dinner. Although, keep an eye on your bills, as they can add up quite quickly.

Onshore Activities

Booking onshore activities is recommended prior to departure. This guarantees your spot on a dolphin-watching trip or guided hike. Onboard activity booking is still an option, but not recommended for highly-desired activities.

Food

Food is included on most cruise lines. Options to upgrade to fancier dinners, eat different cultural foods, or eat the specials of the day may cost a bit extra. Usually there are set meal times. Sometimes you are assigned a time. Sometimes you sign up for your time at the beginning of each day. Because or recent complaints, some ships offer more liberal eating times to suit to the customer’s mood.

Drinks

An all inclusive endless supply of alcohol isn’t necessarily the smartest decision of a cruise liner. Alcohol is an additional cost. Although purchasing alcohol duty free (on international waters) appeals to many.

Most non-alcoholic drinks, i.e., soda, coffee and tea, are included. Unlimited fountain soda is becoming an option on ships as well.

Tipping

Tipping is something cruise liners have tried to simplify, as many don’t know the standard tipping procedures, especially cruising newbies. Ships give suggested tipping percentages or amounts for different services, such as dinner service, porting bags, suite attendant, and bar service. Some companies include the tipping in the end bill, with an option to adjust the amount, and some just depend on the patron to tip appropriately.

General Info

Cruise lines began in the early 1900s. They have progressed tremendously. Many cruises were affected by the influx of airplanes and jetliners in the 1960s. Because of the hospitality-basis of cruises, there is often more staff on board than paying passengers. Some ships can carry over 3000 passengers.

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