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Fabulous food, R&R, family time by the pool, gym access, time in the spa, tropical paradise and relaxing time in the hot tub all come to mind when cruises are mentioned. I got to go on my first cruise at age 18, in March 2012 on the Carnival Dream. It was exactly what I expected, unlimited food, stops at amazing ports (such as Atlantis in Nassau – see my review/pictures), and plenty of time to relax and live life to the fullest. Check out my blog post regarding “Which Cruise Lise is The Best?” I also have an entire episode of my podcast that’s dedicated solely to cruises, featuring Gary Bembridge, the author of “The Cruise Travelers Handbook.”
Cruises are a great way to get away from home for a little while that are very economical and allow you to visit destinations that more than likely you have never seen before. If you are planning on taking a cruise in the future, then you just might find some of the tips below quite helpful.
Live it up aboard The Carnival Dream!
Cruise Tip # 1 – Look for the Deals – The cruise lines have experienced a run of bad luck the last couple of years or so. Because of that, their bookings have dropped considerably. If your travel dates are flexible, it is now possible to save a tremendous amount of money on certain cruises.
Cruise Tip # 2 – Enjoy the Pool in the Morning – The pool is always the most popular place on the ship. If you want to enjoy it without having to deal with all the other people, try to get there as early as possible.
Cruise Tip # 3 – Think About what you are Eating – Yes, you can eat all the food you want when you are on a cruise and most of it is delicious. But, it is very easy to put on five or ten pounds in a week if you are not careful, so be careful, and eat like you were at home.
Cruise Tip # 4 – Put a Sign on your Door – After a night of partying and drinking it can be a little difficult to see the numbers on the doors in a long hallway. Try putting a sign on your door that says “My Name Room” and it will be much easier to find your room no matter how inebriated you might be.
Cruise Tip # 5 – Stay Away from the Casinos – If you enjoy gambling, then find someplace other than a cruise ship to do it. Cruise lines are notoriously terrible places to gamble and their payout percentages are just about as bad as they get. To give you an idea, a typical Las Vegas casino will payout between 95% to 97% of the cash that is deposited in a slot machine. Some cruise lines payout as little as 90% and some even less than that.
Cruise Tip # 6 – Drink Juices – Most cruise lines charge extra for soft drinks, wine, cocktails, and beer at dinner, but juices are usually free, so take advantage of them.
Cruise Tip # 7 – When to Use the Spa – Most cruise lines offer spa discounts when the ship is in port. If you do not plan on getting off and sightseeing at the next port of call, that is the perfect time to make an appointment at the spa and quite possibly get your treatment done for 50% less than you would normally have to spend.
Cruise Tip # 8 – Don’t Miss the Ship – We have news for you, just because you are having a ton of fun shopping does not mean the ship is going to wait for you. Missing the ships departure time can not only ruin a vacation, it can be very expensive because you are going to have to pay to get yourself back home.
Cruise Tip # 9 – Bring your own Power Strip – Some cabins only have one electrical outlet, which for most people is simply not enough. One way to get around this minor inconvenience is to bring a power strip with you.
Cruise Tip # 10 – Pay your Final Bill in Advance – If you do not want to end up in a line with 20 other people, try and pay your final bill the day before you are scheduled to get off the ship.
Cruise Tip # 11 – Fly in the Night Before – So many people miss their cruise because their flight took off late, they were in a traffic jam, or their car would not start. Who needs the stress, why not fly in the day before and enjoy a nice night out on the town.
Cruise Tip # 12 – Learn your way Around the Ship – Most cruise ships are now very large, and the cruise lines are all building bigger ships because they are more profitable. Nothing can ruin a day faster than getting lost and ending up on the wrong side of the ship. Please use your first few hours on a ship to find out where everything is located and the easiest way to get from one place to the next.
Cruise Tip # 13 – Make Friends – After you have been on a cruise or two, you will find out that many of the people onboard are in the same age group, same income bracket, and share many of the same interest as you do. So, why not take advantage of the opportunity to make a couple of new friends. Who knows, maybe you will become best buddies and end up cruising all over the world together.
Cruise Tip # 14 – Participate in the Activities – Just because you have never acted before, does not mean that you will not like it, so give it a try. Maybe, just maybe you will end up being a star. All cruise lines offer a ton of different activities so select a couple of them that you think you will enjoy, and see what happens. After all, they are free and what is the worst that can happen, you waste a couple of hour.
Who could miss out on a game of onboard miniature golf?!
Cruise Tip # 15 – Go to the Shows – Some people spend all of their time in the restaurants, bars, and casinos and never see any of the shows. The cruise lines spend a great deal of money on the shows and entertainers, so why not take advantage of them. They might not be the same quality as you would find in Las Vegas or on Broadway, but truthfully, most of them are pretty good.
If you have never been on a cruise before and you always wanted to try one out, now is the perfect time. The cruise lines are desperate for customers and some of the deals they are offering are spectacular. If you do go on one, please be sure to remember and use the cruise tips we mentioned above.
Now check out my podcast episode all about cruise travel! It has everything you need to know and more!
Planning A Cruise
Start by choosing which cruise line you like the most. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, and the Norwegian cruise lines among the most popular. Those of you looking to go on the newest, largest ship out there might want to take a look at the world’s 8 largest cruise ships.
Royal Caribbean owns 10 of the 14 largest ships in the world, including the two largest ships in the world: Allure of The Seas and Oasis of The Seas. Allure of the Seas recently opened in 2011, featuring world class entertainment such as “Chicago The Musical,” and 25 dining options including the first Starbucks at sea.
The Oasis of The Seas is pictured above.
For years I had considered The Disney Cruise Line to be the best cruise option out there but I have since realized that that assumption is not necessarily true, although there two newest ships butt up quite a fight to be among the best. Their newest ship is The Disney Fantasy, which opened for business in 2012. It’s the ninth largest ship in the world and features amazing innovations such as the AquaDuck, an exciting “water coaster” that takes you high over the ship and even over the sea as you ride through a clear acrylic tube.
Carnival cruise lines is well known for providing fabulous entertainment for people of all ages. You can expect to experience any thing from mini golf to comedy shows to basketball courts to casinos. The fine dining selections are scrumptious. Carnival’s two largest ships are the Carnival Magic and the Carnival Dream, which are tied as the ninth largest ship in the world.
The beautiful lobby of the Carnival Dream is pictured above.
Lastly, it’s time to decide exactly where you want to go on this cruise. Check out my list of the top 10 cruise destinations. While many people simply choose to stick with the Bahamas or Mexico, don’t forget that you have many other incredible options.