How to choose your first cruise

How To Choose Your First Cruise – Tips For First Time Cruisers

Every cruise line is different. With so many options available, first time cruisers may feel overwhelmed by the surfeit of choices. Whether you plan on visiting a tropical or exotic destination, interested in dining casually or in gourmet restaurants, or enjoying activity-filled or relaxing days, the list of cruise lines to choose from is endless. Newer cruise ships offer amenities such as spas, swimming pools, concierge and butler service. When the ship is docked, you can choose to participate in land and water sports, tour historical and cultural landmarks, or shop for duty-free goods. In the evening, you can stroll on the deck under moonlit skies, choose from a martini menu, dance to live music, see a Broadway-style show, or try your luck in a casino. Most, if not all cruise ships, offer satellite telephone service and 24-hour internet access. Passengers can stay connected with friends and family – or choose to cut loose completely. With all these options, how will you know how to choose your first cruise?

When it comes to choosing your first cruise, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself;

  1. Where do I want to cruise to? Cruise ships travel wherever there is water. Most first time cruisers traveling out of the U.S. will take their first cruise to one of the Caribbean Islands.
  2. What can I afford to spend? A majority of cruise ships are all-inclusive to a certain degree. Your cabin, meals and (depending on the cruise lines) bar drinks are included. However, spa services and excursions are an additional cost.
  3. How many days can I go away? Although there are cruise lines that can take you on a 130 day voyage around the world, most cruise lines set sail for either 4, 7, or 11 days.
  4. What type of cabin will I be comfortable in? A majority of cabins are inside with no windows and can seem a bit cramped. Nowadays, many cruise lines offer rooms with a balcony.
  5. Do I need to fly to the port or can I get there by car? Most people live close enough that they can drive to the port, however, depending on your location, you may need to consider flying to the port of your choice.

Online booking agencies such as Expedia or Travelocity allows you to compare various cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, or Norwegian, side by side so that you are able to compare the cabin, itinerary, amenities and cost all in one tab.

Tips for first time cruisers
Plan an adventure at sea. Read up on all you need to know for choosing a cruise line that’s right for you.

Congratulations! You’ve booked your first cruise. That was the easy part. It’s the first day of your adventure at sea. You step onto the cruise ship and there are more than 3,000 people scrambling around you. You’re not sure where to go or even where to begin. Luckily, cruisecritic has a few helpful tips for first-time cruisers once they’ve boarded the cruise ship.

  1. Research ports in advance – Read as much as you possibly can before your cruise, otherwise you might end up in a decent-sized port overwhelmed and without the slightest clue of what to do for the next eight hours. In terms of port info, lines rarely go beyond handing out a map of the town. So with limited time in port, it pays to hit the books before you go. And even if you’ve booked an excursion, after that three-hour snorkel trip, you might find yourself with several hours to kill.
  2. Don’t double tip on alcohol – You’re already automatically paying gratuity when you buy a drink at the bar. Most big-ship lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and others, automatically tack a 15 percent service charge on to bar bills. Unless the service was spectacular, there’s no need to add another tip on top. Learn more about cruise line tipping policies.
  3. Be a smart packer – You never know what type of weather to expect at sea. Make sure you are packed for any scenario.
  4. Avoid the buffet on Embarkation Day – For those of you that are unfamiliar with this term, Embarkation Day is the term used to describe the first day on a cruise ship. During this time, passengers take the time to become familiar with their new surroundings and explore the ship. While debarkation day (last day on cruise ship) certainly ranks as the worst day of the cruise, embarkation day is a close second. For many, it starts with an early morning jolt out of bed, continues with a lengthy sojourn to the port, and concludes with lots of thumb-twiddling in a bleak, amenity-free terminal. All this pre-cruise time makes the soon-to-cruise hungry. And once onboard, the mad dash to the buffet begins. Bypass the buffet or pool grill, where the masses gather, and head to a dining room for some peace. One note: Not every line opens its dining rooms for lunch on embarkation day.
  5. Design a ship tour for Embarkation Day – For a first-timer, the prospect of navigating a 3,100-passenger, 15-deck mega-ship can be daunting. A few days before embarkation, create a ship tour guide. Gather information on the whereabouts of lounges and alternative restaurants from cruise ship deck plans, message boards and ship reviews.

We hope the above information for how to choose your first cruise was helpful. Want to know where first time cruisers just like you are headed? Read up on the 12 Best Cruises For First Timers. Before heading out, make sure your passport is up-to-date. Need a certified copy of your birth certificate? VitalChek offers fast and secure services for all your official document needs.

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