October is the month to choose a cruise, and in honor of this cruise planning month, here are some of our top tips if you're thinking about planning your first cruise!
1. Cruise Pricing is Typically Best When It First Opens
While you may hear a lot about 'last-minute cruise deals', and while those certainly do exist, the best pricing for cruise itineraries is often when they first open, which is usually over a year in advance. If you want to truly get the best pricing on your preferred itinerary and stateroom type, you'll want to plan ahead. Planning ahead also makes it easier to pay for your cruise over time, if you like.
2. Stateroom Location Matters
Cruises allow you to choose your specific stateroom when you book, and there can be a lot of different choices and locations - and some are better than others. You may want to avoid being close to places that typically have more noise, or you'll also want to look for staterooms with convenient access to certain parts of the ship or to stairways or elevators. If you're working with a travel agent, they can help you to navigate the options and make a good choice for your stateroom.
3. Be Aware of Gratuities
Gratuities on a cruise don't quite work like tipping on land. Most cruise lines have automatic gratuity amounts that cover the staff that you interact most consistently with on your cruise - your stateroom attendant and your dinner wait staff - and these amounts are charged to your onboard account. If you prefer, these amounts can also be pre-paid before your cruise. You'll also want to note that gratuities for other things onboard, such as spa services and bartenders, are usually already included in the bill.
4. Arrive the Day Before Your Departure
If you need to travel to get to your cruise departure port, especially if you have to fly, it's best to fly in the day before. This will make sure that you don't miss your cruise departure because of flight delays, which can be a concern especially if you're traveling during the winter. Cruises depart promptly to keep their schedule, and cannot wait for late guests, so it's best to give yourself a nice buffer to arrive at your departure port in plenty of time to board your ship.
5. Passports are Highly Recommended
We highly recommend getting a passport if you'll be going on a cruise, even if your cruise doesn't technically require it. While there are some cruises that do not require a passport, a passport is always needed for flying internationally. If an emergency occurs during your cruise, it is much easier if you already have all of your bases covered with a passport.