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New To Cruising? Here's How to Plan a Cruise

Is this your first cruise? Here is a round-up of steps to make your cruise holidays much better.

By Cruise Booking Team

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Traveling via a cruise ship is everyone's dream. Still, while planning a cruise vacation, you need to think about many things, especially if you're a first-timer. It starts from choosing a destination to find a cruise line to booking until everything comes in between, including the shore excursions.

Are you eager to discover the hidden sea world on your first cruise? Find out how to get started and begin to plan a cruise trip.

Steps to Remember While You Plan a Cruise Holiday

Step 1: When to go?

Before you start planning a cruise, take some time to research the ports of call and the perfect time to visit that port. Because the most important thing on a cruise vacation is the weather condition as no one wants to spend their vacation facing harsh and unpleasant weather. Thus, take some time and figure out when you want to go.

Step 2: Where to go?

The place doesn't matter because there is always a cruise waiting for you at your homeporting. Some destinations in the world can be traveled year-round on a cruise. Those destinations include Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico's Riviera, South America, and the South Pacific. Before booking the cruise, you need to consider the places you want to visit. The cruise industry's trendiest destinations are Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean Sea.

Step 3: Set up a budget

Before you head to a travel agent for booking and other inquiries, you need to plan a cruise that is budget friendly. Check out how much cash you can or have to carry on hand. Follow the proper breakdown method of the cruise cost. Things like cruise fare, cost of flights, transfer between airport to the port, gratuities, drinks, activities, exceptional restaurants, shore excursions, and so on.

Step 4: Which cruise line did you choose?

While choosing a cruise line, you need to consider three things- 1. Sophistication, 2. Service, and 3. Predictably. Ensure that you select a cruise line that matches your vacation preferences and gives you an excellent cruising experience. For example, families can choose Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, or Royal Caribbean.

In contrast, seniors can choose from Crystal or Holland America. Honeymooners can prefer Windstar or Paul Gauguin, and explorers can choose Hurtigruten and Lindblad Expeditions. Even you can ask your friends or family member who has recently done a cruise vacation or take plenty of time in individual research online.

Step 5: How to pick a perfect cruise ship?

To pick a perfect cruise ship, you need to list what you want to do onboard and the places you want to visit. You can also tailor your search by filtering the size of the cruise, aboard offerings, and amenities. For example, smaller cruises offer quieter intimacy and explore smaller ports than more giant sails. Don't forget that the cruise line is divided into different classes. At the same time, you pick a perfect cruise check-in which class you want to travel to. Those five classes are – Mainstream, Premium, Luxury, River Cruises, and Expedition.

Step 6: How to book your cruise?

If you're researching independently, look for the best deals on the official cruise websites or third-party seller deals. Otherwise, consider hiring a travel agent who specializes in offering cruise deals.

Hiring a travel agent can be your best decision instead of buying a cruise deal on your own. They are intimately familiar with cruise ships. They can help you book the right cabin, shore excursion, and entertainment onboard. They also offer discounts and perks that you won't get when you book from websites, such as onboard credit and gratuities.

Step 7: How to choose a cabin?

Choosing a cabin is the most overwhelming task while booking a cruise, especially when you're a first-time cruiser. For example, a midship place will be perfect for you if you don't know whether you will feel seasick or not. The midship point is the fulcrum point where you will feel less movement than aft forward or an upper deck. Or else, if you're on a budget, check out the inside cabins or guarantees. If you plan to visit the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or Alaska, Balcony cabins have been recommended by experienced cruisers.

Step 8: Make a purchase

To book your itinerary, you need to deposit some amount. The final payments are generally due at or before 90 days before sailing. And don't forget to grab travel insurance once your booking is confirmed. If you are canceling the tour, ensure you check the cruise cancellation policy before purchasing.

Step 9: Make a pre-and post-trip transportation plan

Suppose you're sailing from homeport, you can ask someone to drop and pick you up after the cruise, or else you can hire a cab. But if you're traveling by train, automobile, or plan to the departure port, ensure that you make the pre-and post-trip transportation plan. You can take a flight or train one day before the departure to ensure that you have plenty of time between the embarkation day and the day you fly. Also, your disembark timing should have a time gap with your flights.

Step 10: Organize your information

Take a printout of your documents and make copies sets. The records you should carry must include a flight boarding pass, cruise documents, luggage tags, itinerary, passport and visa, vaccination certificate(if needed), medical insurance, medical prescriptions, and ID Proofs.

Step 11: Check the inclusions and exclusions

It's necessary to check and compare prices based on includes and excludes. It is imperative when you travel in a group or with kids as some cruise lines charge kids, while some offer a free cruise to younger passengers. For example, MSC Cruises provides free cruising for kids under 11 and sets the lowest cruise fee for teens from 12 to 17.

Moreover, don't forget to consider the things included in the entertainment and activity onboard. You need to check all those additional offerings ashore and aboard included in the cruise fare for an accurate value comparison.

Step 12: Prepare for cruise

Create a to-do list of everything you need to do. It will help you determine what things you need to buy and take on a cruise along with you. Experts say that preparation gets better and comfortable when you note down something. Make a short and helpful to-do list far in advance to avoid that last-minute stress. Your to-do list must include things like a packing list, document printouts, informing friends and family members, signup for international call planning, refilling your medical prescriptions, and so on.

Step 13: What to pack?

Packing is a pre-cruise fun activity that makes you feel excited. You start keeping all the useless and unwanted stuff in your luggage. Instead of packing everything, ensure that you pack smartly. Check the destination weather and the activities you plan to do. Pack as much light as you can, it will free up space in your luggage, and you will end up having enough room for your shopping bags. Also, consider booking a laundry service at the time of booking to avoid heavy luggage hauling.

Step 14: Pick Shore Excursions and pre-book

The fun beings as soon as you book your cruise, but when you pre-book your shore excursions, the real adventure begins. Although you can book those shore excursions onboard, consider reserving them in advance when booking your cruise cabin. Avoid the aboard reservations because shore excursions sell out faster than other packages like spas and drinks.

Step 15: Choose onboard Activities

Once things like booking cabins, excursions, and aboard amenities, consider pre-purchase all onboard activities you want to try. The best time to book the abroad activities is after booking your staterooms. You can visit the cruise lines' official websites and download the apps or ask your travel agent about the activities you want to add to your package. Bonus tip: You can even complete your online checking process from that app.

Make the most of the Ship

There is nothing like a right or wrong cruise. With proactive planning, you can always find a better deal and experience the most unforgettable and adventurous vacation. Ensure that you plan a cruise and question yourself, like what type of travel experience you want. And you will get an excellent cruise experience because the cruise is waiting for you. You have to get out and find it.

Tags: cruise lines plan a cruise

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