Are you planning a vacation on a cruise ship for the first time? Are you not sure what to expect on your venture through international waters? These three tips will help you prepare for your trip and avoid making some of the age-old mistakes of first-time cruise goers.
Expect to spend extra money
While cruises usually do include accommodations, three meals a day, access to nightly shows, and many other amenities, do not confuse a cruise ship for an all-inclusive resort. If you do not purchase an unlimited drink package, it is easy to quickly rack up a hefty alcohol tab. Some extra costs that people often do not consider when booking a cruise are spa treatments, gambling expenses, dining at specialty on-board restaurants, professional photographs, tip money, and excursions. Be sure to bring enough money to cover these expenses, or stay away from these costly activities!
Expect to experience seasickness, sunburn, or dehydration
During both of the cruises I have been on, I experienced seasickness at least one of the days at sea. While I am usually not susceptible to motion sickness, rough waters can really test your body’s equilibrium. During the last cruise I was on, my mother experienced seasickness for two days and got an awful sunburn from the direct sunlight on the top deck. For this reason, you should be prepared for anything on a cruise. I suggest packing Dramamine, ibuprofen, Aloe vera, and obviously plenty of sunscreen!
Expect to feel unguided once you leave the ship
Unless you book one of the over-priced excursion packages that the cruise line offers, your time at port is completely unplanned. You are essentially dropped off in a foreign area, and left to fend for yourself. While some of the excursion packages may be worth the money and stress-free planning, you might want to do some research before you go on a cruise to avoid spending large sums of money. There are usually beaches, forts, shops, and other activities within walking distance of the port, but make sure you stay within the tourist area if you are unfamiliar with the location. Remember, many of these beautiful ports are only minutes from poverty-stricken areas. In the past, I have taken a motorcycle ride to a waterfall in Samana, a taxi ride to downtown Cozumel, and a tram ride to a picturesque beach in St. Thomas–all with complete strangers in a foreign place. I would not by any means recommend doing this due to the potential danger of these situations. Instead I would recommend staying closer to the port, and sticking with the safer option of walking to nearby attractions!