Friday, January 3, 2014

Cruising 101 Part 2: Tips for Booking a Cruise

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5 Tips for Booking a Cruise

Carnival Glory

Carnival Glory. Copyright 2013 Marcia Crayton For editorial purposes only. Photo may not be reproduced nor sold.

Cruising used to be a luxury for rich folks. However, it is more and more affordable and cruising is a popular option when you are planning your vacation. Here are some things to consider:

Departure ports: you should take note where you want to leave from and how you will get there. The departure port may be a hot US city, such as New Orleans, Port Canaveral, Honolulu, Vancouver, Miami, New York, Baltimore or Los Angeles. You can build an extra vacation around your departure port. Will you have to fly? Can you drive there and how much does it cost to park?

Cape Liberty, NJ, home of Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas (editorial purposes only)

Destinations/Itineraries: For the world traveler, cruising is an excellent way to introduce yourself new countries without booking an entire vacation there. You can get to know a place and come back later or visit a port again and again and do something different every time.

The Carnival Breeze, anchored at Grand Turk, Turk and Caicos (editorial purposes only)

Ship:  Cruise lines build ships in classes: they name the classes and then the ships in those classes are similar. Ships in each class have many things in common: size, amenities, activities but will have something that distinguishes them so that they are not all exactly alike.

Dining/Food: Food quality is can vary from line to line. Most cruise lines keep the quality the same for each class of their ships but the variety may differ. The larger the ships will have extra restaurants (that you pay extra for). They may also have more types of foods available in between meals. Most cruise lines include lemonade, iced tea and water as part of the price but sodas are extra. (Disney included all soft drinks.) Needless to say, spirited drinks are always extra and some lines will sell you a package for that, too. Read the website carefully or check with your travel agent so that you know what to expect.

Be prepared to buy drink packages

Staterooms: You can choose your room. The rooms will be small. It's a stateroom. They're very nice, but small. Rooms near the Lido deck (near the pool), and on Decks 1-2 (under the galley/kitchen) may hear some noise. So will rooms near the elevator or the stairs.  But you'll probably get a towel animal when they turn down your bed at night. Be kind to your cabin steward, they're your host for the week.

Editorial use only
Cruising 101 Part 3: Behind the Scenes

Coming up in the series: excursions, ships' activities, ports and more.