The Art Of Cruising Part One - Making Sense Of It All
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” Susan Sontag
Often when I mention cruising as an option for travel, travelers either love the idea or hate it. Those in the love camp are usually those who have cruised and cruise often and are aware of how it works or those who are pretty flexible and willing to try new experiences. Those who hate it give me push back such as, what if the ship sinks, what if I get sick, what if I don’t like the food and so on. So today’s post will focus on what a cruise is and what to expect.
Let’s start with what cruising is. Cruising is a form of travel that involves transportation on a ship, yacht or other floating vessel, that also happens to be your accommodations. Think about it in these terms, the ship is a floating hotel that takes you to all of these wonderful destinations and you unpack your suitcase one time. Cruising is either a mostly inclusive experience; think mainly large ship and mass market ocean cruise lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, etc) or an all inclusive experience; think smaller vessels and river cruises (Viking, AmaWaterways, Regent).
What is included and can be included varies by the experience that is sought after and budget. Typically with ocean cruises you will receive your accommodations (your state room), most food, some beverages and entertainment. What isn’t included is soda, specialty drinks, alcoholic beverages, specialty dining experiences, shore excursions, airfare, gratuities and travel insurance. All of those are add on’s to the experience and budget. Let’s think about that. Even though you see an advertised rate for a 5 night sailing those rates don’t reflect any of the options I’ve mentioned and often the rate you see on the internet or in the brochure is the base rate meaning that it’s the rate per person before taxes and port fees have been added. All of the cruise fares are based on double occupancy meaning if you travel solo, you will pay the same rate for a similar cabin as someone traveling with a companion minus the taxes and port fees of a second traveler.
Prior to sailing you will need to purchase shore excursions, purchase a beverage package, purchase travel insurance, book a hotel for at least one night prior and one night post cruise (one night prior if driving to the port), prepay for gratuities, check-in online, print your cruise documents (which will include your boarding pass) and verify that your passport is in order. Before we go further, lets talk about passports and why they are important. First, a passport is not required to cruise from a US port if you are returning to the same US port. A passport is required to fly if something happens and you end up stuck in a Caribbean nation. Read that again. I always encourage travelers to have a valid passport when they travel because, well, life happens. Unless your crystal ball is working properly all the time you have no way of knowing that your spouse will have an accident and will need to be medevaced from the vessel to the closest medical facility for medical treatment. So, while a passport isn’t required it is recommended. Strongly recommended.
Once on board, your prepaid items will be in your cabin such as information about your shore excursions, water purchased for your cabin (DON’T TAKE ANYTHING OUT OF THE MINIBAR. I REPEAT, DON’T TAKE ANYTHING OUT OF THE MINIBAR. Unless you don’t mind paying eight dollars for a soda. I’m exaggerating - slightly.) and information about any specialty events that you prepaid. You will also have a daily newsletter of the activities onboard as well as information via the tv monitor in your cabin. Your cabin won’t be ready once you board so you may want to keep your carry-on bag with you if you have medications or other personal items you may need immediate access to. This is also a great time to explore your new home and get your bearings to where things are located.
This seems like a great stopping point. We will continue with our cruise discussion in part two which will give you more insights into the cruise experience.
In the meantime, if you would like to schedule a complimentary 30 minute consultation, send an email to email@example.com.