What to Expect Your First Time on a Cruise

A cruise is very different from any other type of vacation. If you’ve never been on one before, you’ll want to know what to expect and what to be prepared for. With a little knowledge on how to avoid hassles, a cruise can be the getaway of a lifetime.

The most important thing you should familiarize yourself with is every level of expenses. What is included with the basic charge and what isn’t. Some cruise lines will include free room service and other luxuries for free, so make sure you’re not missing out on anything. Also know what isn’t included, so you’ll know how much extra money to bring. All cruises have different policies so be sure to do your homework.

Another big thing to be ready for is sea sickness. This is especially true if you’ve never been on a ship before and don’t know whether or not you’re affected by sea sickness. There are many medicines for this and you can ask your doctor what would be best for you. One of the more popular options is a sea sickness pill, but one of the major side effects is drowsiness so be careful when you take it. Patches are also popular.

The weather will play a huge role in your cruise experience. This will depend entirely on where you cruise is chartered and what time of year it is. Most Caribbean cruises will be fairly warm year-round. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses. But a cruise to Alaska will be cool and sometimes downright cold. So pack accordingly.

Consider what kind of events you will be going to on the cruise when packing your clothing. Some cruises will have formal events, others won’t. You’ll want to know this in advance and be prepared for it.

Remember that cruise ships can be extremely crowded sometimes. Have designated times and locations where you and your group will meet-up later in the event that you get separated. Avoid areas that can become overcrowded easily, like elevators. Some cruise lines will have elevators that you can use to get from one level of the ship to another, but these are often so over-used that they take forever and should be saved for the older passengers.

Some cruise ships can be a pretty intense party experience, especially if you don’t have children in your group. Be sure to pace yourself when drinking. Getting drunk on a rocking ship can be a bad combo. Also, on the subject of drinking, be sure to check to see if your cruise line does automatic tips on the bill. Some cruises charge you a 15% tip automatically with alcoholic drinks, so don’t pay the tip twice by mistake.

Another important expense to note is phone calls. Your best option is to wrap up all your business, both professional and personal before you head off on your cruise, so you’ll have no need to call back and check-up on things very often. Cells phones will not work on some cruise lines. You will likely have a phone in your room, but it can actually cost up to fifteen dollars per minute to talk to someone back on land. If you must make phone calls, make them when the ship stops to make port.

When the cruise is over, have your things packed and ready to go at the specified time. The staff of cruise ships are typically very friendly, but they have to be insistent when it comes to departing guests. They need plenty of time to get the room ready for the next passengers and won’t want to wait on you. Get to bed early and try to avoid hangovers on your last night.

By planning ahead and knowing what’s available on your ship; you can assure that you and your family have the trip of lifetime.

What to Expect on a Luxury Cruise

Aside from being wealthy, most people who go on luxury cruises are discerning, seasoned travellers who enjoy interacting with other like-minded passengers. These people are happy to pay more, if it means they can holiday in a 5 star, sophisticated environment where they will be well looked after.

Certainly, on a luxury cruise, every passenger is given a high level of personal service, as the staff are trained to cater to your every need from the moment you board. The ambiance on these ships is refined, yet sociable, with passengers exchanging stories while sipping fine wine and enjoying the kind of international cuisine that would upstage many respectable land-based eateries. While the food on offer is slightly below the level of the world’s top restaurants, it is a cut above the cuisine provided on any other type of cruise ship. Also, the food is served to you by courteous staff, who make every meal a pleasurable experience. Alternatively, if you do not feel like socializing, you can always have food brought to your stateroom.

Generally, luxury cruises offer fewer options for entertainment compared to normal cruises, and the entertainment that is provided is more reserved. Rather than boisterous discos and partying, passengers prefer to socialize with one another in a wine bar, whilst listening to live music. On many luxury cruises, expert speakers are hired to give lectures on a wide range of contemporary and historical issues. These speakers can include scientists, former politicians, historians, academics and explorers. Usually, a luxury cruise itinerary will focus on yachting hotspots, such as those found in many parts of the Caribbean, rather than the large commercial ports. All of this makes for a far more cultured and educational experience, in contrast to the booze fuelled, mindless entertainment that characterises many mainstream cruises.

Staff on luxury cruise ships are able to provide a more personalised service, because the vessels are a smaller size than normal cruise ships. This creates a more intimate atmosphere and allows luxury cruise ships to stop-off at ports that would be overlooked on a mainstream cruise. A small luxury cruise ship will carry no more than two hundred guests, and a big ship will carry no more than one thousand guests. The quieter, more understated nature of these cruises appeals to those who dislike the hustle and bustle of a more commercial cruise line, and who want a service that is tailored to their preferences.

Several luxury ships offer extra treats for guests, such as toiletries from name brands and pyjamas with embroidered cotton logos. While these are only small touches, they are always very popular with passengers, who appreciate the attention to detail. Although most ships do not cater to children, there are some child-friendly vessels that operate during the school holidays. Usually, child minding can be privately organised with an off duty member of staff. Obviously, these types of cruises would not be the first choice for a family holiday. However, facilities can still be offered on these ships to keep children entertained, so family groups are not unheard of.

The smaller high-end cruise lines have always been notorious for their strict dress codes. Historically, black tie suits and evening gowns were mandatory attire for dinner. Nonetheless, recently, many luxury cruise operators (notably Cunard) have adopted more liberal dress codes, to reflect the fact that many modern guests do not enjoy having to dress for dinner. These days, providing you do not dress too outrageously, you can wear virtually whatever you want on many luxury ships. Tradition aside, most people agree that it is a good thing that the cruise lines have taken this approach, as it keeps them up-to-date with current trends.

Undoubtedly, a luxury cruise offers a different, more bespoke holiday experience that attracts those who enjoy the finer things in life. If you can afford it and decide to book one of these cruises, after your trip, you will probably never want to book another mainstream cruise again.