Taking a cruise can be a wonderful, fun experience, and it’s become the favorite way to spend a vacation for many travelers, but it’s also something that takes a bit of planning if you want to ensure a hassle-free, no-stress break.
In the excitement to book your trip and pull out all the clothes from your wardrobe in preparation for your adventure, you may not have realized a few things about cruising. For example, there is the potential to get seasickness, and you should always come prepared, and if you plan on working (or uploading hundreds of photos to social media ) it’s probably not going to work out the way you’d hoped because internet connection is expensive and oftentimes slow. But that’s not all, a little research can, thankfully, help you to learn the expert tips and tricks to avoid getting stuck with a bill filled with hidden costs, and answer any questions you may have about what it’s really like to be onboard.
So, if you’re ready to take a cruise, especially if it’s your first time, then you could benefit from asking yourself a few questions ahead of your trip, and below are 20 things everyone should consider.
20 The High Wifi Costs May Put An End To Your Social Media Activities
Cruise ships are designed for holidays, not business, so if you need to do a lot of work when you’re onboard, you should probably consider the expense of the Wi-Fi. This could be an unwanted hidden cost because the internet is usually very costly on most cruise liners, and according to Cruise Critic, you can often expect slow connection speeds.
However, there is a way around this, and the publication claims that you should look for free Wi-Fi access around ports, or simply have a coffee at one of the local cafes to avail of their connection.
19 Sea Sickness Is A Real Thing... But You Can Come Prepared
It’s not nice to think that there could potentially be something that ruins your trip, but there is a very real possibility of getting seasick when you’re onboard. According to The Telegraph, cruise ships have stabilizers, and for the most part, you probably won’t feel any swishing, but if there is choppy waters or rough weather conditions you may find yourself (and everything else) swaying.
This is something you should plan ahead for, and according to Carnival, you can buy Sea Bands. These are small elastics that you can wear on your wrist which press against your pressure points and help to avoid seasickness.
18 Always Consider The Dress Code To Avoid Feeling Out Of Place
When it comes to packing for your cruise, it really depends what type of cruise you’re going to be taking and many boats have a dress code. Before boarding, you should make note of the dress code, and whether or not there will be a formal evening.
For the most part, Carnival notes that evenings are business casual, but on formal evenings it is an opportunity to really get dressed up and wear your finest garments. If you haven’t made a note of this before traveling, you could find yourself underdressed.
17 When You Disembark There’s Going To Be A Lot Of Waiting
You need to bring some sort of identification with you if you want to go on shore, and this is something that you should be prepared for. Also, as The Telegraph notes, be prepared to queue because when hundreds and sometimes thousands of passengers are disembarking (or embarking) this could mean a lengthy wait.
The best time to leave the boat would be as early as you can, and when it comes to embarking, Cruise Critic suggests either going early, or late. They also suggest coming with snacks and water to make your waiting a little more enjoyable.
16 All-Inclusive Packages Could Save You From Hidden Expenses
When you’re onboard you may find that drinks are very expensive, and buying drinks each day could add a significant cost to your budget. For this reason, it may be wiser to buy an all-inclusive package that lets you avail of drinks, although they do not always offer alcoholic drinks, which is why you should read the details of your package carefully.
According to USA Today, the package largely depends on the cruise company and while some luxury liners will include the cost of all drinks, others may only provide non-alcoholic drinks like soda and coffee and charge extra for alcohol and cocktails.
15 Choosing A Trip Should Not Be Done On Cost Alone
Cost is an important factor in deciding on any holiday, and most people do a lot of research to find the best deals before traveling. But Royal Caribbean reports that one of the biggest mistakes that you can make when first taking a cruise is deciding on a trip based purely on cost. The reasoning is that cruise lines market to different demographics, and it’s best to find out what sort of trip you want to take too, and what appeals to your interests, and then hunt for a good deal after that.
14 To Do A Shore Excursion, Or To Not Do A Shore Excursion
Cruise ships are designed with entertainment and relaxation in mind, and there are many different things available to you both onboard and onshore. According to USA Today, you should take the time to read up on the entertainment options and what each package includes. It’s also helpful to search for independent reviews on the internet before signing up, as this can help you to make an informed decision.
It's recommended to sign up for the shore excursion (a guided experience at the port of call) before you even set sail as this will help avoid disappointment as some of the more popular trips tend to sell out.
13 A Room With A View Is Really Not A Guarantee
Different cruises and cabins cost different prices, but the lowest cost cabin may not be worth your while if a view is something you want. Cheaper cabins tend to not have portholes, meaning there are no windows, and this could make you feel trapped.
Your choice of cabin is also something that you should consider if you are prone to motion sickness, and Carnival claims it’s helpful to get a higher, mid-deck cabin. As a bonus, they will also have some of the best views.
12 What Type Of Traveler Are You, And What Cruise Matches This?
Although there are millions of people who chose cruises as their holiday of choice, not every cruise line is appealing, as we all have different expectations.
If it’s your first time wanting to go aboard then there are some things to think of first, like what do you want from your trip? Is it rest and relaxation you’re after, or a party trip? According to Cruise Critic, you should give some thought as to what sort of traveler you are before embarking to ensure the ship you have chosen fits your personality.
With this in mind, you can then factor in a budget and also the length of the trip.
11 Port Parking Is Convenient, Sure, But Do You Want To Pay So Much?
Not everyone arrives at the port in a taxi or with a private chauffeur, and if you are driving there are other things to consider, like parking and the safety of your vehicle. According to Cruzely, there are official port parking lots and this is incredibly convenient because they are right at the cruise terminal (so you don’t have to lug your belongings far), but it’s also not the only option and the publication recommends searching for other parking lots near the port, which could potentially reduce costs. The takeaway here is really to do some research beforehand, which could save you money.
10 Cruising Is Probably Safer Than Your Journey To The Ship
The biggest safety concerns for cruise ships are fire or running aground, and while there have been some high-profile accidents, these are rare. There are millions of people who go on cruises each year which are incident-free, and this is because the people involved in the cruises are highly trained. That, and ships need to follow rules and regulations to protect passengers and crewmembers safety while onboard.
According to Cruise Critic, The Coast Guard does quarterly inspections of all ships that operate out of the United States ports to ensure they comply with the requirements of what is needed in an emergency. Plus, all passengers are required to participate in a safety drill where they will be informed of the safety instructions and what to do in case of an emergency.
9 The Budget Savvy Among Us Can Keep Track Of Their Spending
When on a cruise it is important to have a budget in mind, and it can be particularly hard to keep track of your spending when you are constantly swiping your credit card. For this reason, all-inclusive packages are appealing because there are fewer costs at the end of the trip, but if you prefer not to go down this route, then Blogger At Large notes that you can keep track of your budget by asking reception for a daily print out of your expenses.
8 Travel Insurance Will Act Like A Warm Fuzzy Blanket On Your Travels
When traveling, there are always a number of factors that can change and are out of your hands -- like travel delays, lost baggage, or injury -- and every traveler is recommended to take travel insurance to help them deal with situations like this. The same should be done while onboard a cruise, and Cruzely reports that although there is a good chance you will not have to use your travel insurance, it adds a security to your trip knowing that if something goes wrong, you are not alone.
7 Make Friends With The Ships Policies On Electronic Devices
Despite being on holiday there are certain electronic devices that most of us cannot live without, and if you intend to use them then you need an outlet adapter. Cruzely reports that it’s helpful to bring onboard an adapter so you can use more electronics at once, but not all adapters are allowed, such as those with surge protectors.
Perhaps the best approach when deciding what you should, or should not bring onboard, is to read the policy information provided to you by your cruise line of choice.
6 Avoiding The Peak Seasons Could Be Just What You Need
If you’re not one for crowds and expensive prices then you could benefit from traveling when it’s not peak season. According to House Beautiful, the cruise line’s offseasons offer reduced costs, but you will also benefit by not being surrounded by so many people, which means less waiting time and more chance of getting a pool lounger.
These seasons generally include spring and fall, but of course, it differs depending on the location of the cruise. Just remember, you don’t have to take a trip at the peak time to enjoy a cruise.
5 Is It Best To Leave The Kids At Home?
The answer to this question really depends on your choice of cruise, and if you decide to take one that is kid friendly then there is a possibility that you can still have a break, even with the kids. Some cruises offer babysitting services for children from as young as two, and other cruises have fun activities designed with the kids in mind.
However, Wander Wisdom points out that you should always read the cruise line policies and check the age requirements for being onboard. Although every policy is different, usually a child of six months or older is allowed to travel.
4 You’ve Heard About Leaving Cash Envelopes, But Is This A Real Thing?
Tipping is a controversial topic, but it’s one that should be considered. For many luxury liners tipping is not expected and is included in the fair price, for others, it’s meant to be at the discretion of the traveler, and at the end of the cruise, they could decide to leave envelopes with cash for the cabin personnel. However, Cruise Critic claims that these envelopes are becoming a thing of the past, and many lines have included an auto-gratuity which is added to the passengers onboard account on a daily basis. Other lines have got rid of this policy and adjusted their fees accordingly to pay their staff a higher wage.
Basically, research the cruise you’re taking and the tipping policies before going onboard.
3 Keep In Mind That There Are Some Things You Should Absolutely Not Buy
What you buy while on your excursions is also something to consider, and you could end up with a hefty fine if you do not take this into account. This is different for every location, but, for example, in Venice, it’s best to avoid the fake, counterfeit handbags, no matter how much you may want to own a designer replica. The reason for this is that according to Blogger At Large you can be fined by the police and may have to take an unpleasant trip down to the station.
2 Package Deals Including Flights Have Pros And Cons
Booking a package deal can be cost-effective, but according to Household Beautiful, cruise expert Stewart Chiron claims you could benefit from booking your flights separately. It’s easier to get everything all-in-one go, but potentially cheaper to do some shopping around of your own, or compare prices to know if you’re getting a good deal.
There is a catch though, the money that you are potentially saving on your flight could mean that if there is a delay, or some unforeseen travel complications, the ship won’t wait for you, and you will end up missing your trip -- which is where travel insurance comes in.
1 You’re Going To Feel Like The Paparazzi Is Following You
Although not really something to consider before you embark, it’s interesting to know that when you are onboard a lot of people are going to be taking photos of you. There are many photographers that have been employed by the cruise line to take snaps and create memories for their travelers, and for some people, these photos (although sometimes costly) serve as a great memory. However, if you’re not a fan of photos then be polite but decline the offer.