First-time cruisers aren’t the travelers who are likely to mistakes when booking a cruise. Most of us have discovered some new things – perhaps learning the hard way – that we wished we had known before buying our cruises.
No matter how many sailings you’ve been on, you can always gain useful knowledge or pick a few new tips and tricks to make your voyage is as smooth as possible. Check out our seven mistakes you should never make when booking your cruise.
Not Asking About Drydock Schedules
Ships routinely get refurbished. If you sail right before or right after the ship is scheduled to be overhauled during a drydock session, contractors could realistically be cruising with you and working on the ship while you are trying to enjoy your vacation. Also, certain public areas and attractions might even be shut down.
Cutting it Too Close
Don’t fly into your port city to join the cruise on embarkation day. If you are embarking or disembarking at a cool destination, like New York City, Rome or Miami, for example, you’ll want to make sure you plan for enough time to explore these top travel spots. Coming in a day before your cruise starts also ensures that flight delays don’t cause you to miss the ship.
Picking the Wrong Cabin
Check the ship’s layout and aim to book a cabin that isn’t directly above, below or next to a busy area. The map of cabin locations and details is typically available on a cruise line’s website.
You don’t want to hear clanking pots and pans from the kitchen, blaring tunes from the disco or chairs scraping the floors while you’re trying to enjoy some peace and quiet in your stateroom. If you are prone to seasickness, book a cabin in the middle of the ship on a lower deck. Have mobility issues? Maybe you want to be near the elevators.
Ignoring the Calendar
It’s not necessarily a mistake to sail in hurricane season, but don’t be surprised if seas get stormy (hello, seasickness) during your voyage. You’re more likely to have your itinerary altered and should consider travel insurance (with coverage for hurricanes or severe weather disruption) when you book for hurricane season (from June through November). Also, if you sail during spring break, expect the ship will be packed with partiers and families with kids. Cruises during summer and other holidays also mean it’s more likely that you will find larger groups of families traveling with children onboard.
Not Monitoring Prices
To get your best deal, book during special cruise sales, which often run during wave season (a cruise line deals period that runs roughly from January to March) or around holidays. Consider a travel agent who specializes in cruises to help monitor when fares drop. They can ensure you don’t miss special promotions, such as onboard credit and drinks packages. Cruise travel professionals also often thank you for your business by offering goodies like onboard credit or other cruise perks.
Your costs don’t end when you send the final payment for your listed cruise fare. Onboard, be ready to pay for drinks, gratuities, excursions, specialty dining, and souvenirs.
Choosing the Wrong Ship
Ship vibe and layout is important. Some are more luxurious, others offer more activities and amenities (like waterslides, rock climbing walls, go-kart tracks, Escape Rooms and laser tag). Maybe you want a ship with fun and interactive youth programs for your kids and teens. Or maybe you seek great food and service with a low-key, relaxing environment on a cruise that focuses on fantastic itineraries.
Make sure you’re getting onto a ship that has a good array of activities and amenities that you and your family will enjoy.
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