Friday, January 25, 2013

How to Make the Most of a Cruise Vacation

Going on a cruise is a lovely way to spend a holiday. It's an opportunity to travel to exciting places in a most relaxing way, whilst enjoying plenty of good food and entertainment. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your cruise without the costs spiralling out of control.

Cabin care

Cabins vary enormously in price, so when booking think about what facilities are essential for you. A cabin with a bath will be more expensive, so if you don't need one, save money by booking a shower-only option. Most of your time will be spent in other parts of the ship, with the cabin really only in use for sleeping, so book as basic as you comfortably can. The location of your cabin is more important than the facilities. If it is underneath the bar or restaurant, there is likely to be a lot of foot traffic overhead. A room near the engines will also be noisy, so check the deck plan before you book.

Plan activities

Many activities are included in the cost of the trip, such as use of the pool or games on the deck. Many ships also have a library or offer a schedule of lectures; make the most of the opportunity to learn something new! If you would like to go on one of the scheduled shore excursions, it's worth remembering that these can usually be booked in advance. Not only are these sometime discounted for booking early, but paying in advance will help you to better budget for your trip. If you are spending several days at sea, for example on a transatlantic cruise, don't forget to take some books or other activities with you for those times when you don't feel like socialising.

Be budget wise

It can be very easy for costs to mount up when you're on board. Make sure you allocate your funds carefully to avoid overspending, particularly on food and drink. Many cruise lines offer a pre-payment system for soft drinks, which can help spread the cost, but remember you will probably have to pay for any alcohol on top of this. Stick to the restaurants that are included in your package.

Helpful Tips

When purchasing a drink, it is cheaper to order it yourself at the bar rather than ask the waiting staff to bring it, otherwise a tip will automatically be added to the bill. Tipping is an integral part of the cruise experience and can be confusing if you are not aware of the etiquette. Recommended amounts vary for differing services, from 15% for drinks to 20% for spa treatments. Many cruise lines offer the option to pay for these in advance, spreading the cost.

Avoid unnecessary expense

There are plenty of activities on board that are included in the price of your trip, but just be mindful of the few things that aren't. Visiting the spa for a beauty treatment can be a fabulous experience, but will incur an additional charge, so make sure it really is something special. Internet access on the ship can be quite costly, as can making calls from the on-board satellite phones, so avoid using them at any time other than in emergencies. It will be cheaper to wait until you reach port and make use of facilities on land.

Follow these simple guidelines provided by and with a little planning you can have a great time on board a cruise without it costing the earth. Happy sailing!

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