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How to Cruise Like a Pro

Photo by Jeff Clow/Flickr

When you’re planning your winter escape, here are five tips to maximize your vacation at sea.

1. The ship molds the trip—so pick wisely.

For starters, size matters. Smaller cruise lines, serving less than 300 passengers, are great for traveling off the beaten path. You ditch the large crowds when docking and get to have an authentic experience abroad.

Mid-sized ships, typically between 300-1,300 passengers, offer a handful of scheduled activities and a variety of restaurants that offer more formal dining. These ships are great for groups that both like to socialize and enjoy their privacy.

Big ships tend to accommodate over 1,300 passengers. On these large vessels you seldom feel any motion. There are an endless number of activities on board and time ashore is limited. Childcare is often provided and older kids will undoubtedly keep themselves busy with their newfound friends. This should provide adults plenty of kid free time to do their own thing and enjoy the plentiful offered.  

2. Treat your body right and it will treat you right.

 Your regular diet and exercise routine usually don’t make the packing list, but neither has to become a chore while you’re enjoying your time off. Here are some simple ways to stay on track

3. Mild planning required—don’t worry its painless.

 Cruise ships generally have a laundry list of activities for passengers of all ages. Even before boarding know what your options are so you can make a priority list. Keep in mind that you’re going to want some time to relax so don’t overcommit. And remember that if you intend to explore the towns where you dock, then some research into those towns before you get there will give you more time to see what you want to see

4. Support local trade.

 If you venture off the cruise ship to pick up souvenirs, stop by the local markets. Sure, you could spend your time in the touristy shops on the usual cruise routes which all tend to look the same after awhile. But usually a few short blocks away you’ll often find local shops with hand-crafted gems and local delicacies. It’s a win for everyone— you, the local merchants who can always use the business, and your friends at home who will love your unique gifts .

 5. Set a budget.

Many people book their cruise as a packaged deal but don’t take into account extra expenditures. Alcohol, local excursions, shopping on board and while docked can all add up to a hefty bill. And t’s important to check airfare before committing to cruise dates to make sure your costs are within budget. No need to be rigid about what you’re spending, but awareness is key. Ignorance is never blissful when you receive your credit card bill. 

Most importantly, have a blast!

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