More than 16 million people went on a cruise in 2011 and out of that number about 11.2 millions are North Americans. According to Norwegian Cruise Line, first time cruisers are always amazed at how cruises really put their vacation dollars to work.
With all meals, accommodation, transportation to different ports of call, entertainment (excluding casino) and on board activities provided, vacationers have very little else to worry about once on board. However, first time cruisers do have many questions.
Here are 7 tips for first time cruisers for a smooth cruise vacation:
One: Picking a cruise
There are literally hundreds of cruise ships to choose from. How do you pick? Which cruise line will suit your needs? All cruise companies have information on their website to help you plan a great vacation. However for first timers, it may be better to work with a travel agent or a cruise counselor. They have the expertise and know all types of cruising options and destinations.
Cruise counselors may be able to help you select a cruise vacation that caters to you and your family’s budget, interests and comfort levels.
Two: Port of Call (Destinations)
Mediterranean, Caribbean, South Pacific, Baltic, Alaska, New England and more, your options are unlimited. From our own experience, we think first time cruisers should try a shorter cruise, like a three or four-day cruise to Bahamas. This is one way to test it out.
Most North Americans choose the Caribbean for their first time cruising experience.
Three: Motion sickness
Even with the motion stabilizers on cruise ships, motion sickness is still unavoidable for some veteran cruisers. Over-the-counter medications like Dramamine or Bonine may take care of the problem. If you prefer natural remedies, try ginger or peppermint essential oils.
These days, most cruise ships are very casual. Nightly suit and tie and beautiful gowns are no longer required. Comfortable shoes, flip flops, shirts and pants are necessary for shore excursions and day time activities on board.
For formal night, bring along your gown and suit and tie with matching shoes. You don’t have to bring your whole collections, just one if you want to travel light.
Most importantly, bring your swimwear, hat and workout clothes.
Five: Choosing your stateroom
Terms like aft, forward, portside, starboard, lower deck, higher deck, mid-ship can be quite confusing for first time cruisers. Then there are the inside cabins, porthole, unobstructed view, picture window, balcony and more. How do you choose your stateroom?
Once again, a cruise counselor may be helpful or call the cruise company directly. We have had great experiences with both cruise counselors and calling the cruise companies directly.
Yes, you have to pay tips. Some cruise ships include gratuities but most do not. Cruise ships have a tipping chart and usually tips are automatically added to your bill when you disembark.
You are required to bring your passport and/or necessary documents to travel outside of the United States. Check with the cruise ship when you make your reservation about required documentation for travel.
Before going on your cruise, here are Travelmath’s Calculators to help you choose your pre and post cruise accommodation, airlines, and nearest airport to your port for embarkation.
1. Accommodation – Use Travelmath’s Hotel page.
2. Airlines flying to the port for embarkation – Use Travelmath’s Airport Flying calculator. In this example, we used Miami.
3. Find out your flight options by using Travelmath’s nearest airport calculator. In this example, we used Miami.
Are you planning for a vacation? Use Travelmath’s calculators to help you plan your next trip.