Many of us have reservations about flying these days, and we have every right to be wary. Security and the signs of the times have made it seem almost impossible to enjoy a vacation in which an airplane is involved. The travelers who don’t explore the possibility of taking a cruise ship to the same exotic destinations don’t know what they’re missing. A cruise can be a more comforting option for many reasons: (1) It’s safer (although all kinds of travel involve some risks at one point or another), (2) there are activities aboard ship until you actually reach your destination, and (3) you can actually eat and sleep in your beds and not have the back of your seat kicked by unruly children!
First you should decide where you want to go. Mediterranean and mainland European cruises are especially popular but are only some of the possibilities. Cruise sites will tell you all the places they stop during the trip. If you want to only go to one country they are visiting and not all, find out if you are allowed to stay aboard ship until the desired stops. You’ll want to shop around and decide if you want to go full luxury or look for a more inexpensive cruise. Some cruises include buffets, entertainment, and other amenities; if you don’t need all this, you can find something that better suits you. Next, you should check to make sure all of your ID and personal info is in ship shape. Contact any cruise lines you may be interested in and make sure you hear all the details, hidden charges, etc.
Decide what guidelines certain cruises have for young passengers. Do they accept children? If so, what ages? Are there any special fees? Will your children be provided with activities aboard ship? Will they need to wear certain attire? It’s a lot easier to know these things ahead of time than to arrive and find out you have to pay extra to have your child accompany you. Some cruise lines will have special areas and entertainment just for teenagers and children, and adults have separate rooms and entertainment. Find out if there’s a dress code; some of the fancier cruises may require certain dress at certain times. Again, if you want a more relaxed vacation and don’t want to worry about this, keep searching. There will be a perfect choice for you.
Explore travel websites for coupons and discounts before choosing a cruise line. There’s no need to pay full price if you can save a little here and there. Make sure you know in what way you will be paying and make sure any credit cards you might decide to utilize are ready to be used. Find pictures that show the ship, amenities, rooms, and a basic overview. Keep in mind that just because the rooms shown on the pictures may be huge, it doesn’t mean every family will get an identical room. See if you are allowed to choose which part of the ship you’d like to stay on and what there is to see and do on that particular part.
All vacations are not built alike. One cruise line may have one thing you like but other things you could live without, or have everything you like except for one thing. This is a good time to know if your cruise can be personalized; some cruises will do this. You may be able to plan your own itinerary, eat in a restaurant without hundreds of other people, and run your own schedule. Decide exactly what you want; keep a list, and if you find a cruise that seems to be what you’re looking for, make sure everything on your list can be checked off. If you’re a parent, you can have each child tell you one or two things that they would really like their vacation to have; after all, they’re part of the family too!
Keep in mind that even though you won’t have to deal with airport security, you will still need to be prepared for security checks before entering the cruise ship of your choice. This may be a hassle but is all too necessary. Make sure not to pack anything that could be a problem in the future. Another thing to check on is exactly what information you need to have with you. Having your ID at an easy-to-grab place will grant you quicker admittance and allow you to begin the vacation of your dreams sooner.
By Lacie R. Schaeffer