If you have never cruised before and you are thinking about embarking on this type of wonderful holiday away,here are some important tips and things to know.
Tip #1. Ask detailed questions, like what is included in your cruise fare. Find out exactly what is included in your cruise package. Are taxes and port charges additional? What is the cost of trip insurance? Are there cancellation fees? Are gratuities included, most likely they are not. Understand your stateroom category. [For this we advise the consumer to look at the deck plans of the specific ship online] Some cruise lines have “pregnancy restrictions”, if you are pregnant, ask if the cruise lines you are looking to book have any restrictions if you are pregnant.
What is included on board? Many might think that something as simple to them is included, like soda, but most mainstream cruise lines do not include soda. You can purchase a soda package (but do not wait, cruise lines usually will not sell the soda package after day 2 on a typical 7/9 day cruise). Alcohol is usually not included, except for luxury cruise lines. Cruise lines do offer wine packages. Food is always included (typically a buffet and main dining room), although you can find up-charge specialty restaurants on board almost every ship sailing today. I think many would say that the cruise lines are doing very well with passengers paying the additional cost to dine in their specialty restaurants as more and more emerge and ships are being retrofitted with these new on board options. Excursions are always additional. On board entertainment is included and many ships have excellent show and music reviews. Inquire if you will need in cabin babysitting services in the evening, this will vary.
Tip #2. Newer ships will cost more. Older ships will cost less. Comparing a standard 7-night itinerary on a new ship vs. an older ship, the older ship will be more affordable, same or similar itinerary. If you’re looking to cruise on a budget, cruise off season. This is when children are in school (September, October are cheap), right after New Years through April with spring break weeks at a high. Holiday cruises like Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years are at a premium as well as summer cruises. But between Thanksgiving and Christmas you can score excellent deals.
Tip #3. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Screen the travel agent/company that is making the cruise package offer. Google can help with this; see what people are saying about the agent/company. Don’t feel like you have to purchase immediately without doing some research and finding out why the offer seems too good to be true. [Refer to Tip #1-ask questions to see what is included in the cruise package being offered. It might not include charges like port fees and tax.]
Tip #4. Always pay by credit card and get your cruise package detailed in writing. Book at least 3 months in advance, you will enjoy your cruise a lot more than scrambling around finding information.
Tip #5. Be leery of emails that tell you that you won a contest or lottery for a trip or cruise, this is probably not legitimate. These exist via telephone contact as well. Don’t fall prey if someone tells you that you won an all expense paid vacation. If you won “FREE AIRFARE”, your resort stay will turn out to be a few months mortgage payments.