Nothing beats an all-inclusive cruise for relaxation and a vacation you will always remember... if you do your research and find the cruise that fits you! Booking a cruise does not have to be difficult, however, you will have to make some important decisions to find your ideal cruise vacation.
- Research. Research on cruises does not have to be difficult; in fact, it can be highly enjoyable! Browse cruises online, looking at photos, destinations, prices, ship layouts, and anything else that interests you. Alternatively, you can visit travel agents and collect some brochures to look through. At this point, you're just dreaming and figuring out what interests you.
- Decide on a destination. Destinations such as Alaska, the Caribbean, and Mexico are extremely popular, but cruises go to many other destinations as well. Consider the weather, which tourist attractions - if any - you want to see, and which cultural or natural attractions you are most interested in. You may want to take hurricane season into account and travel somewhere without danger of hurricanes at the time of year you are traveling.
- Determine the length of your cruise. This may be determined by your work or family schedule. Also consider how much time you want to spend away from home, how many days you want to be at sea, how many ports you wish to visit and for how long.
- Look at your budget. Sadly, money sometimes gets in the way of a dream vacation, but it doesn't have to stop you from booking a cruise. At this point, you may want to go back to some previous steps and make your cruise a little shorter, or try other destinations. Cruises really do exist for virtually all budgets, and your travel agent or travel websites can help you find them.
- Check for discounts. AARP members can sometimes get senior travel packages when booking a cruise, and AAA and Costco members can receive discounts. Some websites offer last minute deals also, if you are flexible or feeling spontaneous.
- Select your departure point. This could be a port near you, or you can fly to your departure point. Just remember that any plane flight will be an extra cost on top of booking your cruise.
- Choose your cruise line. Different cruise lines have different reputations and cater to various demographics. It's a good idea to get personal recommendations or to look on the Internet for customer reviews - you can often learn a lot more from impartial reviews than from the official cruise websites! The cruise websites are good for providing ship layouts, descriptions of different staterooms, and a list of amenities offered.
- Read the fine print. Make sure you know - and are comfortable with - what happens if the cruise is cancelled due to weather or if you have to reschedule because of illness. Find out how much of a deposit is required and if there are any hidden fees. For example, many cruise lines charge you up front for tipping, and passengers often forget to factor this into their budget.
- Book the cruise! You can do this through a travel agency or by yourself online. At this point, you will have done enough research that you may not need the travel agency; just make sure that you are using a reputable website which has mainly positive customer reviews.
There's nothing left to do now except make a list of what you need to pack and make your friends jealous by enjoying yourself, wherever your cruise takes you. Bon voyage!