If you are a newcomer to the world of cruising, you are in for a treat. There is no other way to see so many incredible places at such an affordable price, and as a bonus, you only have to unpack once! Cruising truly is an experience unlike any other, where you can truly disconnect from the world and have everything you need at your fingertips. With its unique nature, there are some things you need to know before you go on a cruise. Every October at Get Away Today, we celebrate National Cruise Month. But we truly love celebrating all year long. In the spirit of cruising and vacation planning, we've compiled our list of 5 things to know before taking your first cruise.
Packing Tips Before Your First Cruise
1. You'll want to pack light. The staterooms on cruise ships don't have a lot of space, so you definitely don't want to over pack. Chances are if you're cruising to the Caribbean or any other tropical destination, you'll spend most of your time in a swimsuit or lightweight clothes. If you're going on a longer cruise, you may want to do laundry on the ship instead of over packing. Get Away Today Cruise Bonus: some of the largest staterooms are found on Virgin Voyages, an adults only cruise line.
Know Passport Requirements Before Your First Cruise
2. You may not NEED a passport, but if you're traveling internationally, we always recommend one. The rules are a bit different for cruising in and out of the United States (often called a “closed cruise”). You are NOT required to have a passport if:
- you are departing from and returning to a US port
- you are a US citizen
- a government issued photo ID, like a driver's license, and/or an original birth certificate
Know What’s Included Before Your First Cruise
3. Each cruise line is a little bit different with what is included with your cruise fare. Almost all cruise lines include meals in the main restaurants, onboard activities,entertainment, kids' clubs and a few non-alcoholic beverage choices with meals. Some cruise lines have beverage packages that you can purchase at a discount, and some cruise lines, like Disney, have free non-alcoholic beverages all of the time. Most cruise lines have restaurant upgrades available for a small fee which gives you a fine dining experience at a fraction of the cost you would find on land. Gratuities for all of the incredible staff members who assist you during your cruise are often not included, and can be prepaid or paid before you leave the ship. You can leave the minimum suggested amount, but you may find you are so spoiled that you'll want to leave a little more. Our agents can help guide you with what's included on your cruise. Get Away Today Cruise Bonus: Almost every cruise line offers room service at no extra charge, including Norwegian Cruise Line.
Know About Special Events Before Your First Cruise
4. Know your theme nights. Most cruise lines have fun themes that encourage specific types of dress. Whether it's a black-tie affair or a pirate themed party on deck, it's fun to look the part. Some cruise lines even have clothing that you can rent for these types of affairs so you don't have to pack and prep your own. Check with your cruise line or Get Away Today agent before your cruise for details. Get Away Today Cruise Bonus: Pirate themed nights on Disney Cruises are very popular, so be sure to pack accordingly!
Know About Excursions Before Your First Cruise
5. Excursions are optional entertainment and activities while you’re in port. It’s a huge part of the fun to explore the destinations you came to see, but these on land, in the air or sometimes in the water activities come at an extra cost. You can pre-purchase excursions directly through the cruise line, which guarantee that the cruise ship will wait for your return should any unexpected delays occur. It's nice to have that kind of peace of mind. There are other reputable companies that offer shore excursions with their own guarantee. No matter which route you choose it is a good idea to book excursions ahead of time because the most popular ones can sell out. Get Away Today Cruise Bonus: If you’re visiting a private island owned by your cruise line, some things might be included in your cruise price like meals on your Perfect Day at CocoCay when sailing with Royal Caribbean. Then there are often extra upgrades like access to private cabanas, tours of the island and more.
We hope these tips help you as you prepare for your first voyage! If you haven't booked yet, our cruise experts are here and would love to help. Give them a call at 855-GET-AWAY and they'll help you find the perfect cruise and the perfect price or you can book your first cruise with ease online and still get that great pricing you’re looking for.