Planning your first cruise can be overwhelming. I have been on nearly a dozen cruises, so I’ve put together a few tips to help make planning your cruise a little bit easier.
Find the Right Amount of Time
Cruises can vary in length from 3 days all the way up to 14 days. In my experience, 3 days is not enough and 14 is too many. A 4-5 day cruise is the sweet spot, and you can spend an extra day or two in the port city as a bonus to your vacation.
Get your Passport
Depending on your destination and ports of call, you may need to have a passport. If you don’t already have one, you can access the necessary forms and instructions at https://www.usps.com/international/passports.htm. Many post offices accept first-time passport applications, and some of them can also take your photo onsite. Be sure to start this process early as it can take several months to receive your passport in the mail.
Timing is Key
While you can take a cruise any time of the year, some seasons are better than others, depending on your destination. Want a couples-only vacation? Consider taking a cruise in the fall since most kids are in school. It’s also important to pay attention to weather patterns. Your cruise won’t be nearly as enjoyable if it rains every day.
Find a cruise company you like and stick with it. Most cruise lines have loyalty programs that you are automatically enrolled in when you purchase your ticket. Some of the perks of loyalty programs include complimentary drinks, private dinners with the captain, and priority boarding.
Transportation to / from the ship
To get to your ship’s port, you can arrange for a shuttle ride directly from the airport (for a fee), or many hotels near the port offer complimentary shuttles. All cruises are wheelchair-friendly and offer priority boarding for those passengers who need a little extra time. Most ports are wheelchair-accessible, but there are a few that can only be reached by passenger boat. If someone in your party is in a wheelchair or needs extra assistance, be sure to confirm the port’s limitations, if any, prior to your arrival.
Food, Food, and more Food
You’ll never leave a cruise ship hungry. No matter the ship or the cruise line, there is always plenty of food provided with your booking. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided buffet-style so you can stick to your favorites or try something new. If you’re in the mood for something a little more sophisticated, black tie dinners with the captain are available every night.
Let MarinePerks help!
The MarinePerks team is ready to help you plan your first cruise. Whether you have questions about which ship to choose, selecting your travel dates, or have questions about what to pack, we’re with you! Eligible MarinePerks account holders can book their cruises online, or they can speak with a travel concierge from 8 – 8 CST Monday through Friday and from 8-11 CST on Saturdays. By using the MarinePerks program to book your trip, you can take comfort in knowing you’ve received the guaranteed lowest price available at the time of your booking, and you’ll receive a cash back check for 5% of your total cruise package.