Dusty has friends that cruise. They really , really love it. Then she has friends that would not be caught dead on a cruise ship. Dusty took a cruise… once, for 4 days. I bet if she had a choice she probably would not make it her first choice as a vacation destination. Some exceptions do apply.
For example, Alaska. I know Dusty thinks that Alaska is made for a cruise what with the Inside Passage and glaciers and all. So many of the sights are on the water or along the coast. Mix it up with a shore excursion or two and you’ll probably cover a lot of the highlights. If she didn’t think it would be a good value or worthwhile she wouldn’t be trying to put together a cruise trip there for next year’s vacation with her sister.
But we’re learning a lot about cruises as Dusty works on this so I thought I’d share some of what we’ve found out so far.
1. The destination is important but don’t forget to consider the cruise line and even the particular ship. There is a big difference in atmosphere and facilities. Some lines are known as party boats while others are geared toward families and children, still others have seniors or singles in mind and gear their activities accordingly. Some cruise lines have different ships within the same cruise line designated for the various demographics.
2. The best way to get a good deal on a cruise is to either book early or book last-minute. The early bookers get about the same sale prices as the late “sale” bookers but they have more choices and options. Booking early avoids the chance of being disappointed by having the cruise of your choice sold out. . “Early” usually means three to six months before the cruise; the savings generally are 25 to 50 percent off the published brochure price per person.
3. Take care of business. Tape a to – do list to the fridge or someplace else that’s visible so you don’t forget to stop mail delivery or to pack your favorite shampoo. Make sure arrangements have been made for your pets whether they are staying at home or heading to a kennel. Shop for film,( does anyone still use film in this age of digital cameras?), travel size toiletries, sunscreen etc. They will be available on the ship but will be more expensive.
4. Pack light, pack right. Be prepared for the off-chance your luggage will get misplaced. Even if your bag isn’t lost, it often takes hours before it gets to your cabin. So pack for survival: Put a little of everything you’ll want and need in a carry-on bag. This includes undies, shirts, socks, a bathing suit , any medications and something to wear to dinner. As added protection, buy travel insurance that covers you for lost, stolen, damaged or delayed luggage. As this is an expensive trip travel insurance should cover you if for some reason you have to cancel at the last-minute. After all, life happens!
5. Explore the shore excursions and book as early as possible. Some cruises let you book the shore trips before boarding but many others do it after you board the ship. These excursions go fast so do not delay if there’s one you really want.
6. Then there’s that old nemesis, tipping… How much and to whom? Some cruises allow you to pre pay your tips but then if the service is bad, you’d be out of luck. If you choose to cover the tips on your own most cruise lines supply you with tip guidelines. It runs about $3.50 per day/per person for the waiters and the cabin steward and $2.00 per day/per person for the bus boy. Tipping the maitre’d is optional.
7. Last but not least on the learning curve..dining! It used to be that you”dressed for dinner” and had assigned seating in the dining room. Usually there were 2 dinner seatings. More and more cruises are beginning to use “open seating”. You can change tables or even your seating time. There’s also more options for restaurants outside of the main dining room. Check out your options carefully before you book so there are no pricey financial surprises. Also find out the dress code. Many are going casual or having only 1 formal “captain’s dinner”.
So that about wraps it up so far. I know Dusty’s head has been spinning. I think she is finding getting this cruise info together is much more involved than just heading off on vacation. Her friend Julie would disagree but that’s why everyone is different.
Well, she still hasn’t booked the cruise yet so I’m sure there will be more updates to come. Any cruisers out there that can offer advice? Let us know.