26 Jan The Newbie’s Guide to Cruising, Part 1 | Booking Your Cruise
Helpful Tips for Booking Your Cruise
When you consider how busy people are these days, it’s no surprise that Cruising is one of the most popular modes of traveling. Think about it. Literally, you will have 3+ days of pure bliss on a floating resort, practically any type of food you’d like, be treated like royalty by staff, participate in daily activities like Zumba, volleyball tournaments, trivia games, try your luck in the casino, enjoy nightly entertainment from singers, ventriloquists, dancers and musicians, be pampered in the on-site Spa, eat till your heart’s content or burn those same calories at the full service gym. What’s not to like?
Add on the fact that cruise ships visit different ports and it’s easy to see why this would be a very cost effective way to get away from it all. I will admit that previously, I’d decided that my first cruise would be my last and only recently realized that perhaps, I’d been too hasty.
If you prefer a relaxing, care-free vacation where you only need to show up and have the time of your life or just opt to relax, lounge around the pool and do nothing, cruising may be the ideal solution for you.
That sounds lovely, but everyone knows that there are a billion cruise lines. How do I go about choosing the right one for me?
If you asked three people that same question, you would get three different answers. The answer is highly subjective and truly depends on the type of cruise you are looking for. Take Carnival Cruises, for example. They have a reputation for being a ‘party’ cruiser, however, when I was aboard the Carnival Liberty, there were 4,000 kids there. The lovely thing is that I saw maybe two of them. Carnival has a very good program for the youngsters that keeps them well occupied for the length of the cruise. Therefore, families should not be wary of booking with them and singles should know that they will feel that they are almost on an adults only cruise.
My best advice is to decide where you want to go on your cruise. Every cruise has an itinerary – a precise route that they will travel with port stop(s) along the way. These port stops will allow the cruiser to disembark from the ship and visit the area, sample the native cuisine and enjoy shore excursions or tours where you will get to visit the island/city where the ship has docked.
OK, I get that. So, when is the best time to cruise?
Once you have decided whether you want to take a European, Caribbean, Alaskan, Asian, African, Hawaiian or Canadian/New England cruise, you can use this handy guide to determine the best time to cruise for each destination.
Costs can be reduced significantly if you travel during that destination’s low season, so it’s important to know when that occurs. Other factors to consider are weather conditions – for example, you wouldn’t want to book a Caribbean cruise during their hurricane season because, besides the obvious, your port itineraries have a pretty good chance of changing as a result.
Alright, I’ve decided when I want to cruise and where I’d like to go. How do I book it?
Contact a Travel Agent
As a newbie, you can’t go wrong by contacting a reputable travel agent. Travel agents work closely with cruise lines and are usually privy to little known and/or last minute deals that the general public are not. Travel agents can provide guidance and advice from start to finish and as a result provide peace of mind like no other. I would like to recommend three very experienced travel agents who will go above and beyond in order to ensure that you have the best cruise ever:
Monique Redman (email@example.com) The Travel Provider was founded in August 2007 by a retired military – Non-Commissioned Officer, who possesses a resourceful way of researching information, truly enjoys helping and personally assisting people and seriously loves travel. Monique specializes in group itineraries by assisting clients so they may enjoy the gift of travel seamlessly through professional and personalized consultation through knowledge and continuous training, the services provided are designed to improve any traveler’s quality of life.
Di’Mon Arnold UniqueHolidays+Cruises, LLC is a full-service travel agency based out of Hartford County, Connecticut. We specialize in cruises, luxury travel, group travel, Caribbean vacations, Orlando vacations, Las Vegas vacations and special needs travel. We strive to make travel simple, worry-free, and fun for our corporate and leisure customers alike. We want your travel experience to be memorable in positive ways. Our motto is “Your Travel Needs Are Our Priority” and we are committed to making your travel dreams a reality.
Demitra Bryant (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been in the travel industry since 2005. As a Personal Travel Consultant at Harmony Travel Getaways, she can customize your itinerary to exotic locations. She has earned many travel industry accreditation’s inclu
Book Online with cruise clearinghouses
If you are somewhat familiar with making your own travel arrangements and feel comfortable with booking online, you might want to try the online booking agent, Vacations To Go. Here you will find deeply discounted, last minute fares with lots of perks like onboard credit (OBC), free specialty dining packages or beverage packages, etc. They offer plenty of incentives to book with them, so it’s a good idea to check them out.
Book directly with Cruise line websites
Like any business, it’s imperative to have a viable website presence and cruise lines are no exception. Many deals can be found on these websites but it can begin to get overwhelming unless you have a specific cruise line in mind.
The one piece of advice that I would give if you choose to book directly with a cruise line or through a travel agent, you should wait until after “Final Payment” is due. Every cruise will require an initial deposit to hold your reservation. A few weeks before you are scheduled to sail, they will ask for final payment. Once that is paid, it will take a small miracle to get a refund should the fare drop in price.
Therefore, I would caution you to check the fare price constantly before the final payment is due to see if they will refund the difference or provide an onboard credit. If you aren’t particular about booking a certain type of room (please note that the most desirable rooms could be taken at this point) you will find that you can book at very reasonable prices if you wait until the last minute. A ship would much rather sail at full occupancy than not, so if there are empty rooms, they would rather sell them at a discount than leaving them empty.
Coming up next: Now that you’ve booked your cruise, we’ll walk you through the on-site registration process once you arrive at the port and discuss how to hit the ground running on day one.