If you are considering cruising for the first time, you are in for a treat! Cruising is one of the best vacations you can take and it accounts for about 15% of all vacation travel. That percentage is also increasing each year. If you add up all the expenses of a vacation, cruising is one of the more economical types of vacations. When you choose to cruise you will get 4 or 5 star quality service depending on the cruise line. Plus meals, entertainment, and transportation to different ports is included in the cruise fare. Cruising is exciting, luxurious and fun. If you have not cruised you’re missing out on a truly exceptional vacation. Here are a few first time cruise tips:
Which cruise line is right for me?
There are a variety of cruise lines to choose from. All cruise lines offer excellent service, but they all have quite different experiences. There are many things to consider when choosing a cruise line. Don’t just choose a cruise based on the ports or price. The cruise line makes a huge difference in the quality and value of your vacation. Each cruise line caters to different types of vacationers. It is especially important to sail on the right type of cruise line for your first cruise. Here are a few very general guidelines: (Please note that luxury and specialty cruise lines are not included.)
- If you are looking for a true five star and more traditional cruise experience you should consider Celebrity or Holland America.
- If you are looking for a more casual but still elegant cruise experience you should consider Princess or Royal Caribbean.
- If you are looking for a relaxed cruise atmosphere you should consider NCL.
- If you are looking for family friendly cruise you should consider NCL, Princess or Royal Caribbean.
- If you like the younger crowd (25-55) you should consider NCL, Royal Caribbean or Carnival.
- If you like the medium aged crowd (40-65) you should consider Princess or Celebrity.
- If you like an older crowd (50+) Holland America should be considered.
How do I arrange shore excursions?
The ship will offer shore excursions or you may purchase them from select providers offered by Columbus Travel. The shore excursions offered by Columbus Travel are usually less expensive than the excursions offered by the ship. You can often purchase shore excursions once ashore in each port. Purchasing once ashore is sometimes less expensive, but if you want specific excursions purchasing in advance is recommended. Consult with your agent to determine the best option for you.
What about tipping?
Most cruise lines charge your onboard account for gratuities. Some cruise lines allow you to prepay them before sailing. These tips automatically go to your cabin steward, waiters and assistant waiters in the main dining rooms. The bar and spa will automatically charge a gratuity. Any shipboard personnel can be tipped at your discretion for special services received.
What documents do I need?
For most cruises, online registration with the cruise line is required once your cabin is paid in full. Your Columbus Travel agent will give you instructions if you prefer to do it yourself or will assist you in completing it. Once your registration is complete your boarding pass can be printed. You will need this boarding pass and proof of U.S. citizenship with you when boarding. Do not pack them in your luggage. In most cases if your cruise begins and ends in the same U.S. port, an original state issued birth certificate together with a government issued photo ID is acceptable. A U.S. passport booklet, valid for six months after your last day of travel and containing at least four blank pages, is preferred and is required for most itineraries. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please advise your Columbus Travel agent because additional documentation may be required.
What do I wear?
Pack like you would for any nice resort. Cruise vacations are casual by day, whether you’re on the ship or ashore. For women, cruise casual is summer and casual dresses, skirts, regular or capri pants, shorts, jeans and tops. Khakis, jeans, shorts and casual shirts are fine for men. Swimwear is acceptable at the buffet and outdoor restaurants, but a shirt or a cover-up and footwear are required. Cruise casual is also allowed day and night on embarkation day. In the evening, the dress code varies by ship and by occasion. Please ask your travel agent for more information.
Important but Miscellaneous
Women who are pregnant cannot have entered or enter while in their twenty-fourth week during the cruise. Children under six months are not allowed to cruise.
Keep a photocopy of your passport, credit card information, insurance information, and driver’s license at home or with friends/family where it can be accessed if needed.
With this guide, you no longer need to consider yourself a first time cruiser! Scope out your next cruise with our latest Cruise Offers.