Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Your First-Time Cruise: What You Need to Know

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

I remember when my first husband and I took our first cruise. It was a wonderful experience! I didn't know that a vacation could be so sweet. He surprised me with it as a belated honeymoon trip, and what a honeymoon it was. If this is your first-time cruise, there are a few things that you need to know in order to be prepared.

What to Expect

Imagine absolutely everything that you need for your vacation all situated in one place. You don't have to leave your "room" behind; it travels with you! That's one of the major perks that you get on a cruise. Your entertainment, food, and shopping are all within just a short walk's reach.

Just about everything that you can think of that can be done on a vacation can be done right there on the ship. The only reason that you would ever have to disembark is to go sightseeing as you dock in different ports.

You have a steward to attend you in your room. He will see to it that your room is cleaned every day and your basic essentials are kept in stock in your cabin. He will also be able to answer any questions that you may have.

How to Prepare

Make sure that all of your travel documents are in order. You'll need ID, and if you're traveling to any foreign ports you'll need a passport. Check with your cruise line or travel agent before departure to ensure that you have everything that you need.

Pack well but pack light. Once you embark on the ship you'll have help for your every need, but having to try and lug a lot of luggage to the plane and on the transport to the dock can be stressful.

Advice I Can Offer

As above, make sure that you have all of your travel documents. Just one missing item can spell catastrophe for your trip.

Take plenty of money. I suggest that you load up on traveler's checks and/or debit or credit cards. Cash is good but subject to be stolen. You will, however, need cash tips for the many folks who work diligently for you during the cruise to make your trip a success (although the end-of-cruise tips can be charged to your account if you wish).

Go to your cruise line's website and read it thoroughly. You'll find all of the information that you need to make your trip happy and pleasant there.

Relax, have fun, and enjoy. You're about to have the experience of a lifetime and will create many memories.

Personal experience

*Photo: Pete Markham via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 05/23/2014 (no longer published there).]