With exception to a family road trip, a cruise vacation maybe the greatest American vacation you can take with your family. You prepay to have fun in the sun eat as much gourmet food as you want, and see exotic places….what could be better than that. What more could you ask for? Although it can be tough to mess up a cruise vacation, planning ahead can make your cruise that much more enjoyable. Here are common mistakes that you can avoid to make your next cruise vacation a fantastic experience.
Avoid Booking Your Excursions Through The Cruise Line
Your cruise line will provide some great port excursions. However, they can be very pricey and may not be convenient to your schedule. Do your research ahead of time to find things to do in your ports of call. Compare prices of local vendors to that of the cruise line. Many times local vendors provide more amenities and a more unique experience.
**Please Note: If using a vendor outside of the cruise line, be sure that they know the time that you need to be back aboard ship. Being late can leave you stranded at a port of call.
Don’t Lose Track of How Much You Are Spending on Alcohol
You can charge just about everything to your room while on a cruise ship. So when you are just “billing it to your account” and not seeing a running tally, it makes for a shocking reality when you get your checkout bill. All of those pool side beers that you didn’t realize that were $7 have added up to quite the tab.
Don’t Attempt To Overcrowd a Stateroom
Cruise ship rooms can be quite small. Close living quarters can make for uncomfortable times while sleeping and getting ready to venture out for the evening. Although you can save money by bunking up in tight quarters, having a place to rest and retreat too after a busy day enjoying the cruise life can make for a much more enjoyable time. Sharing bathrooms, and showering can be difficult when every extra space is covered with clothes, baggage, and toiletries.
Always Explore The Ports of Call
Although most cruise terminal debarkation facilities are packed full of vendors selling souvenirs, excursions and a taste local culture, there is much more to explore past the crowded market areas. Do your research before you set sail to find out what adventures interest you in your ports of call. Many times you can stumble across a gem that will make an experience of a lifetime.
On our honeymoon, one of our ports of call was Cozumel. My new wife and I had been there several times before and wanted to find something that we both had not done before that also provided some time that we could enjoy just being together. I researched online and found that Chankanaab National Park was about a 10 minute cab ride from the cruise terminal. We decided to check it out and do some snorkeling on our own, have lunch at the park restaurant, and enjoy a relaxing day away from the crowds of the cruise ship. WOW! What a pleasant experience! The cab ride cost about $8, and the park entrance fee was $16 per adult. They had a marine life show and cabanas right on the beach that we enjoyed for free. We had a great lunch that was very reasonable. We enjoyed about 6 hours of snorkeling and the only other divers we saw were some locals that guided us to some spectacular coral formations and buried statues. Total cost for the day was around $80 including lunch, but the memories made were priceless!
Pay Attention to Your Booking Dates
If you are looking for a relaxing, kid free cruise vacation…don’t book during summer vacation, or around the holidays. Spring break dates are going to be packed full of college kids ready to blow off steam from their academic pressures. So be mindful of your goal, the group you are traveling with, and plan accordingly.
Don’t Fly In To Your Departure City The Same Day Your Cruise Embarks
Airlines can run late, delays happen, luggage can be delayed, and weather is unpredictable. Airline personnel are not overly concerned that your flight was delayed 2 hours, that you are an hour away from the cruise terminal, and you have 45 minutes to get there. We always recommend leaving yourself a day’s cushion so you don’t risk missing your cruise departure. In addition, you may get to enjoy an additional port of call that you may not have a chance to visit again.
Plan Ahead For Cellular Service While On Your Cruise Vacation
Be sure to check roaming charges and coverage areas prior to leaving home. You will encounter roaming areas quickly as you leave the shore depending on your cellular service provider. Many companies charge steep roaming fees if you use your phone outside of the coverage area. International cellular service can be pricey, so check your provider and see if you want coverage while on vacation. Don’t let your latest selfie with a dolphin end up costing your $30 because you did not check your coverage limits.
Wi-Fi is Not Always Readily Available
Most cruise ships charge by the hour for in-room internet service. Sometimes it can be as high as $25 per hour or more. In addition, the service is subpar to that you will receive at home or at an internet cafe. We strongly recommend checking with the cruise line what their wifi situation will be on board when booking. It may be a welcomed “vacation” to unplug and save the money.