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Five Tips to Planning Your Cruise Vacation

Five Tips to Planning Your Cruise Vacation!

Where do you begin?  If you are a first-time cruiser, it may seem overwhelming.  There are so many different choices.  Here are five tips on how to begin planning your first cruise vacation!

Check out the different cruise lines and find the right one for you:

Every cruise line is different, and each caters to a different demographic.

Some cruise lines are small and intimate, while others offer large ships with lots of options. There are mass market cruise lines as well as lines that appeal to luxury cruisers.  Then there are lines that focus on family cruising while others focus on adult cruisers.  How do you figure out the best one for you?  Browse the various cruise line websites.  Ask your family and friends; you may know someone who has cruised before.  Enlist the services of a cruise-only travel agent; they can offer their knowledge and experience.

Select your itinerary:

There are so many different itineraries.  Even the Caribbean has Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean and Southern itineraries.

Cruises go just about everywhere you want to go – Alaska, Mexico, Canada/New England, Europe, Asia, Australia/New Zealand and South America.

Then there is the length of itinerary to consider.  There are short itineraries – 3 or 4 days and there are longer itineraries such as 12 or 14 days.  There are even world cruises that are over 90 plus days.  Most cruises are 7 days and fit perfectly for many vacations.   You can find the itinerary that peaks your interest and fits your budget.

Pick the right stateroom for you:

For many people, the category and location of their stateroom is very important.  The different categories – inside, outside, balcony, suite – not only represent different amenities but also what you will be able to afford.

Figure out what’s important to you – having a private balcony where you can step outside and watch the waves go by or saving money by getting an inside stateroom.

Once you’ve decided on the category, now you must consider its location. Is your preferred stateroom choice above or below a public venue on the ship?  It may be noisier than other locations.  Some cruisers prefer mid-ship staterooms and on a lower deck since there is less movement.  If you have no preference, then most cruise lines offer guarantees where they guarantee a stateroom in your category for a break on the price; with this option, you don’t have control where your stateroom will be.

Consider your flight and hotel options:

While many cruisers have the option of driving to the port, while most of us have to fly to the port.

The big question to ask yourself – do I want to fly the day of or day before the cruise?

Popular advice is to fly in the day before.  Often flights can get delayed or canceled, causing you to miss the ship.  There are many options for  flights and hotels.  You can use a travel agent, book through the cruise line, or on your own.  If you want to book on your own, use sites like www.kayak.com and www.orbitz.com to research and book flights and hotels.  You can use www.seatguru.com to locate your aircraft type for your flight so that you can locate your preferred seating choice before you check-in. Use the airline’s online check-in feature and printing your boarding pass to expedite your time at the airport.

Customize your cruise experience:

Once you have booked your cruise, you can pre-book your shore excursions, specialty dining options, spa appointments, and cabin amenities online.

Shore excursions fill up early, and many people wait till they are on the ship to start thinking about these options.

To guarantee your spot on a cruise line excursion, reserve before your cruise.  You can order cabin amenities such as bon voyage or happy birthday room decorations, fruit baskets, flowers, wine, and many more.

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