Cruising is like food for the soul. But if you are new to it, there can be a few choking hazards if you are not careful enough. . Here are some rookie mistakes first-time cruisers tend to make (you don’t want to be one of them!) and how to avoid them:
- Selecting the wrong ship: Choosing the right ship is like choosing the perfect bottle of wine for an occasion. The options are many, but what tickles your fancy? The destination and onboard activities both must be at the forefront of planning, and the balance is important. If you are an adventure sport enthusiast, pick Royal Caribbean International – it has exciting watersport options plus a skydiving simulator onboard. Are you travelling with kids? Book a child-friendly cruise from Disney Cruise Line with plenty of delightful onboard activities and camps. Check out more cruise options depending on your personality here (will link first-time cruising article here.).
- Not having the requisite visa: A rookie mistake cruisers make is not having the right visas in place before they are onboard. Indian citizens need to carry a passport with minimum six months’ validity along with visas for the countries the ship will halt at. While you will need to apply for visas beforehand for most countries, there are some which provide visa on arrival. Also, don’t forget scanning your important documents and keeping a copy online.
- Skipping travel insurance: This one is critical. International accidental and health insurance cover is a must; do not scrimp here.
- Assuming alcohol is included in your package: Most cruise ships have the stay, buffets, access to amenities and non-alcoholic beverages included in the cruise fare. But you will have to purchase an alcoholic package separately, if you wish. This can be done beforehand online.
- Overpacking or under packing: You might be tempted to bring along cases of luggage since you won’t need to drag them at every port. But don’t make that common mistake. Treat a cruise like any other vacation and carry just what you need. Do not overpack. Also, carrying just two pairs of clothes isn’t a bright idea. Most major cruise liners have a casual dress code for hanging around in the day, strict swimwear for the pool and compulsory formal attire for evening shows, casinos and nightclubs. Be sure to pack apt clothes for all occasions as you don’t want to miss any fun!
- Not checking-in online: Cruises expect you to check in online at least five days before departure. Make sure you don’t forget doing that in the excitement of all vacation planning and shopping.
- Not being prepared for embarkation: You might think that now that the cruise is booked, you could just waltz into your room, change into your flip flops and start the fun! Just like airline departures, ship embarkations take plenty of time; so don’t make the mistake of packing everything into your check-in luggage. You may not have access to your luggage till it gets transported to your rooms onboard. The beautiful views et all will keep you busy for a while but you will soon need your basics. Make sure to pack some essentials – a small pack of food, important medication and baby essentials – in a small bag.
- Tipping wrongly: You might be tempted to tip a really kind and efficient staff for his/her service, but before you pull out the money, you must know that the liner is anyway adding a charge for the same. For example, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises add a standard tip between US$12 and US$15 per person per day directly to your account along with a tax of 13%-15% on bar bills.
- Skipping safety drills: Not taking safety drills seriously is imprudent. It’s a one-time exercise and is done at the start of the trip. This drill is absolutely essential to know the basics in case of an emergency.
- Not having the right currency in place: You really don’t want to be cashless onboard. Enquire about the currency used for transactions on the ship beforehand. Carry currency notes of low denomination – in case you want to quickly buy some stuff onboard.
Happy cruising, people!