April 26th, 2020 | Updated on May 20th, 2020
Does your family vacation need a shake-up?
Ready to ditch the usual destinations and go somewhere completely new?
If you haven’t tried cruising, it might be just what you need to refresh your holiday. Beaches, culture, mountains, and adventure sports are all part of the cruise experience, not to mention luxury accommodation, fine dining on board, and daily shows, activities, entertainment, and shopping.
If you’re new to cruise planning, not to worry– read on for our ultimate guide in cruise planning.
We guide you through everything you need to know, from where to go, what to pack, and when to arrive.
The First Step To Cruise Planning— Decide Where To Go!
Cruising can take you almost anywhere in the world, so the first step is to decide where to go. Beach and water lovers tend to enjoy the idyllic waters of the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America, which offer pristine beaches, diving, snorkeling, and cultural excursions.
For a slower, scenic pace, try exploring the rivers of Europe on a European river cruise, taking in some of the famous cities of Italy, Austria, France, and Germany.
For adventure, natural beauty, and even wildlife spotting, western Canada and Alaska are amazing choices too.
Are you looking for the ultimate adventure destination? If so, a cruise to remote Antarctica may be just what you need.
Decide When You Want To Travel
Deciding when to plan a cruise comes down to personal preference, but cruises are most common in the summer months when the weather is pleasant to relax on deck, the seas are calm, and you can best enjoy the activities in port at your destinations.
A great time to go on a cruise is in celebration of a special occasion, such as a birthday, anniversary, or graduation. You and your loved ones can celebrate in style on board, and you’re sure to receive a thoughtful surprise on your special day from the team on board.
Holidays, such as Memorial Day and the 4th of July, can be top times to travel. But, you can often find better deals if you travel in off-peak times, such as the spring or autumn shoulder season, or if you cruise mid-week.
Cruises can vary greatly in length, from 2-3 nights up to several weeks. If you’ve never cruised before, you may find a week is just the right amount of time for your first cruising adventure.
What To Pack
What to pack for your cruise will greatly depend on your destination and the weather. You can always check the long-range forecast at your departure point and destinations to get an idea for the climate.
However, no matter where you’re cruising, there are a few things to consider in advance.
When packing, remember that almost all cruises will have at least one formal night on board. This is a chance to get dressed up, enjoy a gourmet dinner, and perhaps have photos taken.
For formal night, you may want a suit or tuxedo for men, or ball gowns, cocktail dresses, or smart evening wear for women.
For dinners on the other nights, a smart casual look is usually fine, as cruises no longer retain the stuffy formality of years past.
Your cruise ship will likely have a pool and spa facilities, so pack along a swimsuit and swim cover-up, along with casual wear to relax in onboard each day.
If you’ll need to work onboard or need to stay connected, note that there is often a daily charge to access Wi-Fi. If you have your own personal Wi-Fi device, you may want to bring it along.
Pre Book Your Excursions
One of the best things about cruising is visiting multiple destinations, or ports, each trip. Although cruise ships commonly stay in port for one full day, some cruises may stay for longer.
The best way to make the most of your time in port is by booking your daily excursion through the cruise company.
These guided experiences are tailored for cruise passengers and guarantee to have you back on the ship before the time of departure.
Cruise excursions vary wildly, depending on your location. They often include water sports or adventure activities, historic and cultural excursions, tours of the local area, food and wine tastings, or free time at a local beach.
Popular excursions can book up quickly, so decide in advance which ones you’d like to do and try to book them at the same time you book your cruise. If you wait until you’re on-board, your top choices may already be fully booked.
Book Your Flights
For most cruises, you’ll require flights from your hometown to the departure city.
Generally, boarding will take place in the mid-morning to afternoon, and you’ll need to be checked in by late afternoon. This means you should arrive at your destination that morning, at the latest.
However, with the common problem of flight cancellations and delays, the smartest move is to fly in the day before, at least.
This gives you plenty of extra time in case of delays and you also have some time to explore a new city.
If you can, book a hotel near the cruise port, which will make it quick and easy to board on the day of your departure.
Useful things to know about your cruise terminal include its location, how to access via public transportation, and what amenities you can find there, such as dining or shopping.
Additional Top Tips For Cruising
- Look for your cruise’s daily newsletter on board, which contains all the special events, schedules, and activities for the day.
- Inform your cruise of any dietary requirements at the time of booking, to ensure they’re catered for.
- Most cruises offer drinks packages, which can be a great save money on both soft drinks and alcohol.
- Worried about seasickness on board? If so, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before departing. They can tell you the best remedies or medications for prevention.
Book Your Dream Cruise Today
Although it can seem overwhelming at first, cruise planning is a lot of fun, once you understand how cruises work.
Start researching and planning your perfect cruise today. The more time you put into arranging your holiday, the better experience you’ll have.
Book today and start counting down the months, days, and hours until you can set sail on the trip of a lifetime!
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