Here are four tips to make the most of every moment of your cruise vacation!
A Pre-Cruise Stay
Pre-cruise stays and tours in the departure city are a great way to arrive early for your cruise, get into the spirit of your escape, and start your cruise refreshed. You can also book a tour the day before your cruise, or even the morning of departure. Get to know the departure city. It might be Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York, San Diego, or San Juan. All are great tourist destinations, not just departure ports. Miami Beach can prime you for that Caribbean vacation with its beachy, playful, fun vibe.
Departure city tours and pre-cruise stays can be booked through either your cruise line or several wonderful tour companies. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complete rundown on what’s available to you
There is no rush to arrive at the port on embarkation day. Boarding lines can be long and people can get testy; that’s not the ideal way to start your vacation. It may be better to spend a few hours enjoying the sights of your departure city rather than waiting in line at the cruise terminal. Now that’s a good way to make the most of your cruise.
Take Advantage of Things to do On Board
Once on board, be sure to read the “ships log” that arrives in your cabin each evening. This “log” lets you make the most of your time onboard by announcing the events for the following day. You’ll want to know when that first run movie in the theatre is scheduled to start; what band is playing in your favorite bar; the menu for the cooking demonstration; where the Scrabble contest, the Karaoke sing-offs, or the Toga party is being held; or what the Bingo Jackpot is worth. Even if you don’t think you might enjoy something, just stop by and see what you think. Memories of these events, and the people in them, are sometimes what linger longest after the cruise is over. And memories make the most of your cruise.
Doing It All in Port
Once your itinerary is established, but before you even leave home, check out the available tours and shore excursions.
The tours and excursions offered by the cruise line are usually great, but they are not your only alternatives for onshore experiences. Ask your travel agent for recommendations (my blog is devoted mostly to reviewing shore excursions for you) and peruse travel guides and online sites to familiarize yourself with the attractions at each destination. Then you can customize your own travel experience in each port, should you decide to do so. Attending the port information lectures onboard can actually alert you to where NOT to go if you are looking for an authentic experience rather than one orchestrated by the cruise line.
Whether you decide to use the scheduled tours or develop your own really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you get off of the ship and enjoy each port you visit to make the most of your cruise. I am a great believer in shore excursions.
Post Cruise Stays
A post-cruise stay helps ease you back into reality. It may help you make good flight connections for a leisurely trip home, too. If you are flying a long way to meet the ship you should optimize the time and expense of the trip and add on a few days to enjoy the city of disembarkation. Why not see Disney World when you are in Florida? Or jaunt around Rome? After all, you never know when you might be passing that way again.
Cruising is an exciting, affordable, and relaxing way to vacation. But be a participant in your own getaway. Take advantage of the pre-cruise tours, the onboard fun, the port activities, a post-cruise stay, and other opportunities to make the most of your cruise.
An insider tip for those of you who have read this far: When driving to catch a cruise ship or flight, remember this tip.
Many hotels near cruise ports and airports allow you to leave your car in their parking lot for the duration of your vacation if you stay there before your cruise or flight. You can save hundreds of dollars in parking or taxi fees with this perk. Think of it as a free night to unwind before your trip! Contact me at email@example.com or 561-841-2224 to plan all of the details of your next cruise or land vacation.