Your first cruise? You came to the right place!
After reading this page you'll be ready to book your first cruise with confidence.
A cruise specialists will help with every step!
It's likely that you, like many, think that with the power of the internet, you can skip the middle man (the travel agent), do a bit of research and book your own cruise at the best possible price. It's also likely that by now you've discovered that there is so much information out there, you're now a bit overwhelmed and unsure how to actually find the best cruise for you at the best price.
Let me give you the insider scoop. Cruise lines actually prefer that you use a cruise travel professional to book your cruise for you (Check out this blog on the subject). This way they don't have to maintain a huge staff of many thousands of customer service employees. In fact, even in their advertising most will tell you to "Call your travel agent". This is so important to them that they tend to give the travel agents access to far better pricing than if you went direct to the cruise line to book your cruise.
Not only are cruise specialists able to get you the absolute best price, but they can usually get you other valuable perks such as money to spend on board the ship (spa services, wine & cocktails, professional pictures, even shore excursions and more), upgraded staterooms, etc.
And because this is your first cruise (congratulations by the way, you're going to love cruise vacations) you're not quite sure how to choose the cruise line that's right for you, or the right ship, or the right itinerary. You may not yet be aware that there are a few other important decisions to make such as choosing the stateroom that's right for you. Should you be in the forward section of the ship? Middle? Aft (rear)? Should you be on a higher deck? Lower? Middle? Each has its own set of pros and cons, and first time cruisers need a bit of guidance from long-time cruisers like us.
Here's what you'll need to book your first cruise.
Are you taking kids along?
While most ships have kids programs, some cruise lines put a lot more emphasis than others on family cruises. They've spent millions on kids club spaces, game rooms, even night clubs just for teens. Most first-time cruisers immediately think of Disney Cruises, and they are indeed great for families. But believe it or not, there are cruise lines that do an even better job than Disney. So don't limit your choices to just one cruise line's itineraries, but definitely pick one that will keep your kids (and teens) busy and happy.
Narrow down your choice of destination.
Decide if you want to stay close to home (your own continent) or venture off to one of the other six. While cost is a major factor (flights across the pond can add a great deal to your overall vacation expense), some first-time cruisers feel more comfortable starting and ending their cruise in an American port. One recommendation would be to choose a Caribbean or Mexican cruise out of a Florida port. Ships out of Florida sail year-round so you won't be limited by dates. Also, more ships travel in and out of Florida than from any other set of ports. Therefore, you'll have lots of cruise lines, ships, dates, and itineraries from which to choose. Plus, good deals are readily available because of all the competition. Another recommendation would be an Alaska cruise. These are very popular and for good reason. Keep in mind that cruises to Alaska are limited to the warmer months (May-September).
Are you a light sleeper?
Are you concerned at all about sea sickness? These are factors to consider when deciding not only on the type of cabin you'll want to live in while on your cruise, but just as important (if not more important) the location of that cabin. Many first-time cruisers don't know how important your cabin location can be to the comfort and enjoyment of your cruise. First of all, don't let any concern of sea sickness make you hesitate. Today's mega ships and their stabilizer technology make it so you rarely (if ever) feel any movement. If you still feel concerned, there are lots of great over the counter preparations you can take with you. And if those aren't enough, just ask your doctor for the patch. Just stick one of these tiny thumbnail-size things to your skin and you're good to go for twenty-four hours. However, if the ship does experience a bit of rough seas, you may feel more of the up and down motion in a forward or aft (rear) cabin. Many people actually enjoy the rocking motion while they sleep but if you're not one of them, we suggest you pick a cabin as close to the middle of the ship as you can. Similarly, if you are a light sleeper we suggest you not choose a cabin in the forward section of the ship. From time to time the ship may be cutting through some waves in such a way as to create a bump, bump, bump feeling. This sometimes translates into a vibration of sorts that may be felt while you are tucked in bed. Some people say they love it. If you're not sure if you're going to be one of them, stay away from the forward cabins. There are other factors when considering your cabin location, but these are the two most important ones that can have a real effect on a good night's sleep.
Types of Cabins.
There are several types and sizes of cabins on most ships. They can range from tiny (some less than 125 square feet), just large enough for a queen bed (or two twins), a few drawers and maybe a small closet, and a small bathroom, all the way up to a four-bedroom penthouse, and everything in-between. There are several factors that the cruise lines consider when pricing their cabins, but the two biggest factors are size and view. We've already talked about size. When it comes to a view, the least expensive of the scale is 'none'. That's right, there are rooms with no windows at all. Then there are windows that don't open (these are usually on lower decks closer to the water). Then there are rooms with windows that do open. And last but not least are rooms with sliding glass doors that open up to a balcony. Each of these categories comes with a price. If you are budget-conscious, as most of us are, you'll want to compare the size and view to the price and determine what you want to spend. Here's a tip. The prices increase gradually until you get to balconies. If you must have a view but can live without a balcony you can save yourself a lot of money.
When do you want to go?
There are a couple of important things to consider here. If you are flexible with your dates then you are in a great position to choose the best dates that will give you a better experience, better weather, and perhaps save you a lot of money. For example, as a rule of thumb, when the kids are out of school on holiday, prices are generally higher as the cruise lines have very little difficulty filling their cabins. Let's say you decide on a cruise to Alaska. Alaskan cruises run only from May to September/October. The lesser expensive time to go would be May/June or September/October, when the kids are in school. There are other factors too. A cruise along Italy's coast during August would be a very different experience than just one month earlier in July. August (pretty much the whole month) is traditionally Italy's time to vacation. Seriously, much of the country closes down during August, including many restaurants, stores, and other businesses that tourists might normally flock to. Even a walk through the streets of Rome would probably make you ask, "Hey, where did everybody go?" With that said, while some travelers would find it annoying to have fewer choices of places to eat and be entertained, others love the lack of crowds.
Choose your travel professional wisely.
Any good travel agent can book your cruise. Just tell them where, when, and how you want to go and they'll do the nuts and bolts work. They will secure the ship, the date, and perhaps even the cabin. But only with a cruise specialist can you rest assured that you are truly being guided all along the way.
A cruise specialist will spend time with you when choosing the location of your stateroom, making sure your needs are being met. They will spend time with you discussing all the possible things you might want to do while at each of your ports of call. They will arrange your tours and excursions, guides, and even drivers to get you where you want to go, seamlessly. Your specialist will be invaluable as they have likely been where you are going and perhaps even taken the same tours and excursions.
Imagine the detailed advice you'll get from someone who's been there and done that. A cruise specialist is going to ask you a bunch of questions in order to get to know you. This way they can tailor their advice to your individual needs and desires. Maybe you're an intellectual, thus might enjoy tours with lots of history. Or you might be an adventurer that may better enjoy a zip line jungle tour or a cave exploration.
Your specialist will have access to so many options and will make recommendations and arrangements just for you.
Are You Ready to Discuss Your First Cruise With Your Experienced Cruise Specialist?
Call Us: 608-535-4551
Toll free 800-370-9336
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