Top Tips For First-Time and Experienced Cruisers | AMA Travel

Top Tips for First Time and Experienced Cruisers

Shelley Samycia | Facebook | 780-430-5776

Where (and How) Do You Want to Cruise?

A number of years ago cruises were pretty much limited to the Caribbean, Mexican Rivera, and Alaska. These days though, you will find sailings offered all around the world. Today, you can cross the Transatlantic in a classic Cunard liner, or board a mid-ship vessel and cruise around Cape Horn or through the Panama Canal; a growing interest in river cruising has people seeing Europe in an entirely different way. You can choose from 3-day get-a-ways to world voyages of 100 plus days; many first time cruisers lean towards a 7-10 day sailing to a warm destination.Cruise ships have also changed and are being built bigger than ever before. Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas can sail out with 6,000 guests — this is nearly twice as big from 10 years ago. River cruise vessels range from 92-350 guests. You will find the larger the ship, the more cabin category choices, dining venues, entertainment, and activity options will be available.

Pick the Right Cruise Cabin

Your stateroom location can make or break your vacation; if you’re not happy with your cabin you may not be happy with your cruise.Choosing a cabin is not like choosing a hotel room. The cheapest hotel room in a great hotel may be the same size as more expensive rooms, offering similar amenities, just with a different view. But, the lowest priced cabins are often for the smaller, “inside” cabins without a window-view of the sea. You’ll also pay hundreds of dollars more for a larger, outside cabin with a private balcony. Oceanview staterooms have large picture windows that don’t open; however, they provide you a view of the sea and allow the sun to shine in. The best value for your money usually falls somewhere between the two extremes of inside and premium suites.Your cabin’s location is also important. If you’re a light sleeper you may want to avoid choosing a cabin above the ship’s anchor, or under, above or next to the show lounge, dining room, nightclub, or engine room. If you have your heart set on a balcony, you can probably get one as many ships offer up to 80% balcony cabins. Keep in mind that balconies at the bow are less protected from the elements; and the higher you are, or the closer to the bow or the stern you are, the more motion you will feel. If you’re prone to seasickness, you’ll want to stay midship and on a lower deck. Some of the motion is reduced with onboard technology such as stabilizers.

What is the Best Cruise Line For You?

Some cruise lines focus more on families than others. Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival all fall into the category of family-friendly cruising. They offer extensive onboard children’s areas, family pool areas, and children’s & teen clubs with organized activities and amenities, such as zip Lines, rock- climbing, and water slides.The majority of cruises are not all-inclusive. Your base cost covers your accommodations, meals in the main dining room, and most onboard entertainment and activities. But you do need to be aware of additional costs in the following areas:

  • Drinks from the bar, wine, and sodas. A 15% gratuity is typically added to these items. Many cruise lines offer unlimited soda cards, and multiple bottle wine packages, which can be purchased onboard.
  • Gratuities for the crew. Many cruise lines place a charge of $10 to $12 per person per day on your account to cover the tipping for all crew onboard, including your cabin steward, dining room waiter and assistant, to the staff at the outdoor grill, and the baker.
  • Internet facilities. Be aware that the connection is often slow and expensive. The best option is to purchase a package of minutes, which will apply if you are using the ship’s computers or your own. Also prior to leaving home, contact your cell phone provider to review any travel packages they offer to avoid a large phone bill upon your return. And while you’re able to make ship-to-shore calls from the comfort of your stateroom, just make sure the call is worth it as rates often range from $12 – $15 per minute.
  • Shore excursions organized and booked through the cruise line. Optional shore tours can range from a three-hour sightseeing to full day excursions that include lunch and sometimes even a flight to another destination. Should you decide to go off on your own and hire a taxi or car & driver ensure you plan your return back to the ship at least 45 minutes prior to the last boarding call. This will allow time should traffic be congested or you run into delays, such as road construction. Always check your ship’s departure and final boarding time to ensure you are not left behind.
  • Alternative dining venues are available on many lines and carry an additional fee ranging from $10 to $75 per person.
  • Spa treatments are a wonderful way to relax, but many guests find that a massage, nail treatment, or trip to the hair salon is more expensive than at home. Following your treatment you will also find the therapists/stylist will try to sell you the products that have made you so relaxed. On the other hand, the spa staff offers complementary seminars throughout your cruise on topics such as weight loss, teeth whitening, and exercise.

Onboard Special Dietary Needs

Cruise lines will do their best to accommodate dietary, medical or special requests. Notify your travel agent at the time of booking if you require a stateroom to be wheelchair accessible, need an insulin container, or have special dietary needs. You can receive a nightly menu in the main dining room that is tailored to your dietary needs: celiac, vegetarian, low carb, etc. Also, if you’re celebrating a special occasion, advise your travel agent to pre-arrange an acknowledgement from the ship.Prior to travel you should purchase out-of-province medical coverage. Ships do staff doctors and nurses; however, there is a fee to visit them and depending on the situation the visit(s) can be costly. Also carry a sufficient supply of required and over-the-counter medications such as motion sickness remedies, aspirin, band aids, etc., along with sunscreen and bug repellent.

Plan Your Cruise Today

We’ve been on the ships, sailed the world and know about the best places to go. So we can help you find the cruise that’s perfect for you. The best part is, we’ll look after all the details. PLUS we’ll give you exclusive benefits and extra savings while we’re at it. Call 1-866-989-6594 to book your cruise today!

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