Are you looking forward to your first cruise? Perhaps, you are wanting to plan a cruise for yourself without a travel agent or having to use a friend or relative to make the arrangements. You have several options available to make the experience simple and relatively stress free.
Set a range of dates to pick from.
Flexibility is important when planning a cruise because it gives you the ability to find better prices and options. Most cruises tend to be cheaper in the winter. Steer away from spring break times and school vacations. Many people book these times because it is when they have time off to go. If you can avoid them, you will save money and might get some extra perks thrown in on the deal.
Try not to be too fixed on your cruise destinations.
In reality, one tropical island is a lot like the others. Each will have its own unique sights or characteristics. Unless it is something that you have always dreamed of seeing, you will not be disappointed with any of them. In fact, most people find the ship to be at least as interesting as the ports of call.
Decide on the length of cruise that you would like to take.
First time cruisers frequently prefer shorter cruises. They want to get their feet wet without committing a lot of money or time. However, if you have to spend much for travel to get to the departure port, you may want to step up a little on the length of the cruise.
Most people do not struggle through a five day cruise.
It is long enough to enjoy while being short enough not to feel as if you are enduring it. For those who enjoy cruising, a five day voyage may seem too short. Often, you can buy a seven day cruise for slightly more than a five day.
You need to consider what type of cabin will give you the most pleasure.
Plenty of cruise ship passengers have an excellent cruise with an inside cabin or even a port hole window room. If you do not struggle with claustrophobia, either of these options should work fine. For the most part, these rooms will mean that your enjoyment of ocean viewing will be limited to times when you are on deck. If you like noise and crowds, this will work well.
A window room or balcony room will give you better private views.
The window in a regular window room is about the same as what you find in a bedroom or kitchen at home. A balcony room gives you a view from inside your room with a window from floor to ceiling. When you step outside, you get a private place to see the wide expanse of the ocean plus fresh air blowing across your face and body.
Each improvement in the type of room steps up the price.
A suite can cost many times as much as an interior room without a window. Having a balcony or veranda can make your room seem considerably larger because of the greater amount of window space provided plus the 35 to 50 square feet of space on the balcony. A balcony does not always produce a large spike in the cabin cost.
Be sure to allow enough time for travel to the port.
Because your cruise ticket will not be refundable within a week of the departure, you do not want to risk missing the ship. Car trouble, airline delays, and other travel demons can make you lose precious time if you do not allow enough margin for error. It is best to be able to arrive a day early and spend the night at a hotel or motel near the port. You will have to decide this based on the distance you have to travel and your person ability to cope with stress.
Use the internet to check availability and rates.
Most of the larger travel sites are trustworthy and allow you to book your cruise online. Personal experience has shown that dealing directly with the cruise line can be a better way to go. The travel sites will be more likely to offer on board credits. The cruise lines give these to travel agents to help them book more cruise tickets. Whether you book with an online agent, local agent, or the cruise line keep track of all of the paperwork in case their are glitches along the way.
You should look over the list of excursions available at each port of call.
Seriously consider taking a few excursions if you budget will allow it. At the same time, too many excursions can make your cruise feel more like an endurance contest than a vacation. Since the cruise ship is only docked at each port for 8 hours or so, it is rarely a good plan to schedule more than one excursion per port. Sometimes, it is just as pleasurable to do a little research ahead of time and go exploring on your own. You need to remember that most tropical islands are foreign countries. So, make a point not to take unnecessary risks