So you’re planning your next big adventure… Where to? You’ve always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, maybe a trip to New York? Or should you go visit the family in Texas? Maybe even that trip you’ve always wanted to take to visit the Great Wall of China. Let’s try something different… How about a cruise?
I’ve done plenty of traveling in my life, and just like the movie title, I’ve traveled on planes, trains, and automobiles. I’ve always been a huge fan of traveling by plane, but with the hassle of TSA and all the rules and regulations you have to follow, it’s not as fun as it used to be. Now traveling by plane is more of a pain than anything else. Either way, I’ll deal with the hassle if it means I get to go somewhere different and experience all that place has to offer.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been talking about cruising and I ask “have you ever been on a cruise?” and the person responds “never.” No way! Cruising is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to travel. It’s hassle free, lots of fun, and totally relaxing. It’s not only about the destinations, but the ship, and what a good time you have onboard.
1. Choosing your cruise line
There are plenty of cruise lines to choose from. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and, of course, Disney Cruises are most known for being family-friendly and having many things for everyone of all ages to do. These cruise lines offer kids clubs for the little ones, with activities for them to do at all hours, ranging from movie nights to arcade time, even scavenger hunts. It’s plenty of fun and the kids really seem to enjoy it.
The adults need to have some fun too don’t they? Just like there are plenty of things for the kids to do, there are also many things for adults to do as well. These cruise lines offer activities at any time, from early morning yoga and meditation, to the 1 AM after party at the club. There are unlimited activities – and drinks (wink wink) – so there’s no excuse not to have fun!
Cruise lines like Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America are known as “premiere” cruise lines. They cater more to adults, so of course you can imagine you’ll have a relaxed, laid-back cruising experience. (No screaming children!)
2. Choosing your cabin & dinner plan
Cruise lines have different cabins to choose from. You can pick from an “inside cabin” which has no windows, an “ocean view” which, as the name suggests, has a window, or a “balcony cabin”, obviously meaning you have a nice balcony in your room. Prices vary so check with your chosen cruise line.
You will also need to choose your dinner time. Cruise lines offer early seating and late seating, as well as open seating. Early seating is an early dinner, usually around 6-7ish. Late seating is a later dinner, around 8-9ish. Open seating basically means you have dinner whenever you’d like.
3. Picking your destinations
You’re definitely not limited when it comes to picking destinations. And the best part – there’s more than one stop! You can choose from Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, Panama Canal, etc. There are also cruises that sail around Europe. And of course the very popular around the world cruise for those really adventurous individuals. Cruise lines also offer many ports of embarkation, so you don’t have to travel very far. Your travel destinations are truly unlimited.
4. Picking your tours
One of the best parts of traveling to these destinations is all the tours that are offered. There is a huge list of tours on the cruise line’s website to reserve ahead of time, but there is also an excursion desk onboard the ship if you decide to book a tour last minute. The prices of the tours vary by destination and actual tour, but there’s always something for everyone to do. Depending on the destination there are city tours by cab or bus, snorkeling, scuba diving, ATV riding, swimming with sting rays (did this one… kinda scary!), etc. There’s plenty of fun to be had on these tours.
5. Checking in
Checking in can be a very easy process. The only documents needed are a passport and picture ID. If you don’t have a passport, a birth certificate will do. Once you arrive at the port, you check in your luggage and head over to security. After security you make your way over to the check in desk, where you will be checked in and receive your cruise card. Cruise cards serve different purposes. They are your room key and are used to check you in and out of the ship when you arrive to your destinations. They also provide information, like your name, room number, dining time, so on.
Cruise cards are also used as credit cards on board. Instead of carrying cash or cards everywhere, your cruise card is linked to a credit card and everything can be charged through there. Once your cruising experience has come to an end, you will receive a bill stating everything you’ve purchased while onboard.
6. Amenities onboard
Once you get yourself situated the best thing to do is walk around and get to know the ship. After all, this will be your home for a while! Of course, not every cruise line offers the same thing on their ships. It tends to vary from ship to ship. Ships always have a gym, spa, club(s), shops, resort-style pools, bars, and of course a casino.
Every day there is a “menu” with all of the day’s events and activities left in your room. There you’ll find everything from karaoke to poker tournaments, pool parties, comedy shows, so on. There’s something going on literally at any time.
Every night there is also a show, usually before or after dinner. They can be magic shows, Broadway-style musicals, comedy shows, etc. I always make it a point to go to see the show every night; they’re lots of fun for everyone.
I could really go on and on, but these are the most important parts of cruising. You can never go wrong when it comes to taking a nice cruise vacation. I’ve never heard anyone complain about cruising! But of course like anything else, one can only explain the cruising experience so much. It’s best to find out all that cruising has to offer for yourself!