Not All Cruises are Built the Same

It might be tempting to book the cheapest cruise option available. This is likely a mistake. Even if it seems like the cruises offer the same exact things (stops, departure location, length, etc.), it doesn’t mean they’re the same. Taking the time to do the research into all the options will end up saving you money on the whole rather than just up front.

Base prices typically include the stateroom, basic meals, access to the pools and general activities, and entrance to shows, bars, and clubs. Classes, lessons, activities, spa services and (most times) booze are extra. When you get to a port-of-call it’s always free to get off the ship but any excursions you might want to do, are not. An understanding of what your cruise covers is imperative when choosing which one to book.

Packing for a Cruise Should Be Easy, Right?
One would think, but cruise ships tend to uphold strict(ish) dress codes in their dining rooms. Almost all cruises include at least one formal dinner. Formal night attire can range from a cocktail dress and summer suit to a ball gown and tuxedo. Most other dinners in the dining room require a business casual look – sundresses or maxi dresses for ladies and slacks with linen button downs for men. Outside dinner considerations though, feel free to pack your favorite bathing suits, cover-ups, tee shirts, shorts, and flip flops!

What to Do After Boarding
The first few hours of a cruise buzz with excitement, everyone just boarded the ship, the captain welcomes everyone aboard, you set sail and now there are 3-12+ days ahead of you. Cruise ships offer daily activities and ones that only happen a couple times or even once through the trip for all ages and interests, make sure you don’t miss out on the good ones by taking a few minutes when you board to look at the cruise schedule.

In addition to things to do on the ship, there are the aforementioned port-of-call excursions. It is highly recommended that you book these in advance. Some excursions have an attendee capacity or require a headcount for special equipment – you don’t want to miss out on a unique experience because you waited to book your spot.

The Motion of the Ocean
Cruise ships have stabilization mechanisms, so it’s unlikely that most people will experience seasickness unless truly rough waters are hit, but for the more sensitive, there are options. Dramamine is easy to stomach, there are motion/sea sickness bands made to wear around the wrist(s), and ginger products are a natural remedy. Also, booking a cabin on a higher deck will help you feel less motion.

Final Quick Tips:
Check what (if any) tips are included.
Pack meds with you for common ailments.
Make sure your passport is up-to-date (and bring it with you).
Factor dinner wine and poolside beer into your budget – alcohol is typically not included.
Unplug – internet and cell phone service is spotty at best, use this time to unwind without being connected.
You won’t see your main luggage until a few hours after boarding, make sure you have a day bag with essentials like any medications and sunscreen.
Take the stairs! There can be long lines for the elevators – get your steps in and work off last night’s dinner!