Taking Your First Cruise – 5 Things You Will Want to Know

According to a survey by the Cruise Lines International Association, more than half of those who’ve never taken a cruise would like to do so!

Cayman Summer Sale

Over the years, cruise lines have expanded itineraries to include more diverse ports of call and convenient embarkation ports and have also introduced innovative onboard amenities and facilities, including cell phone access, Internet cafes and wireless fidelity (Wi-fi) zones, rock-climbing walls, surfing pools, multi-room villas, multiple themed restaurants and expansive spas, health and fitness facilities that easily rival land-based options.

Here are five things we think you should know, before you take your first cruise:

  • Do I have to use a travel agent?Ninety percent of all cruise vacations are booked through travel agents, and cruise sales account for more than half of all vacation sales among travel agents. Every cruise line has a web site where you can book your trip. However, because you can take advantage of a travel agent’s knowledge, without cost, it might be wise to use one for your peace of mind – most people do.
  • What does the price include?Besides your room, meals and some beverages are included. Expect to pay for alcohol, soda, spas, Internet access, video games, casinos and shopping. There are free activities like shows, swimming and the gym. Taking a walking tour through ports and along beaches can be the most cherished memories you return with.
  • Will we be required to dress formally and eat with strangers at our table?Many dining options are available – formal dining rooms to buffets and cafes. And while your cruise ship may have a formal dress night, that doesn’t mean you need a tuxedo and ball gown. Pack a suit and dress just in case you get the urge to ‘spiff up.’ Casual dress is the norm on many ships but read their brochure for more tips. Most cruise lines let you sit where you like in the dining areas. Meeting people from different backgrounds tends to make a very interesting evening so you may want to venture out of your comfort zone and dine with others.
  • PackingPack the necessities – hair and skin care items you use everyday. Swimming or sun bathing? Sun lotion, flip flops and beach cover are nice. If you forget, they can usually be purchased. Camera – wherever you are going, its going to be beautiful and you’ll want to capture the memories for later. Rain gear for your Alaskan trip, sweater and windbreaker or coat for spring and fall cruises. Laundry can be expensive, so either bring enough clothes for the entire trip or pay.
  • TippingStateroom attendants typically receive $3.50 per day, dining staff (waiter, wine steward, maitre d’) receive $5 – $10 per day (shared.) Gratuities are forbidden on some luxury lines, while others make recommendations on tipping. Additionally, some cruise lines offer prepaid tipping.