9 Mistakes First-Time Cruisers Make


First-Time Cruisers Advice

David Rentsch

President, Cruise Holidays

Select the Wrong Itinerary

Deciding on an itinerary goes hand in hand with picking the cruise line and ship. If, for example, your heart is set on an exotic voyage around Indonesia, you've got to pick a ship that offers that particular itinerary. Draw up a list of where you want to go and then cross-reference it with your short list of preferred cruise lines. That will reveal the best options.

Don't pick an itinerary just because it's cheap. Select a voyage because the ports (or the number of sea days) intrigue you. If you're an outdoorsy type, small-ship cruising with Un-Cruise Adventures in Alaska or SeaDream Yacht Club in the Caribbean might be your style. If you're interested in the arts, maybe a Mediterranean cruise calling on the major cities of Europe is your best bet. Think about your vacation style on land and then pick a voyage that has a similar profile.

The entire idea of going on a cruise may be daunting for newcomers, but it shouldn't be. Simply avoid these 9 common mistakes and you'll be cruising like a pro in no time.

Pick the Wrong Cruise Line or Ship

Selecting the right cruise line and ship makes a world of difference. That decision will determine if you fall madly in love with this type of travel or run screaming from the gangway. Each

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Neglect Passport and Visa Requirements

Whenever you book an overseas vacation, don’t forget to ask about any passport or visa requirements. The US Department of State offers detailed information regarding requirements of countries throughout the world. Be sure you carry the right credentials. Otherwise, the cruise line will have no choice but to deny you boarding or keep you on the ship if you don't have the necessary visa to visit a port of call. (In many areas of the world, the cruise line provides a "blanket" visa for everyone on board so you don't have to worry about it. Carefully read your cruise documentation to see if that's the case during your vacation.)

Book the Wrong Cabin

Some people think that every cabin on a cruise ship is the same. That's simply not the case. You can choose from a variety of options that include inside cabins with no windows to the outside world, ocean view rooms that are outfitted with either a porthole or picture window, or a suite with a balcony. Various cabin categories also come with different amenities. Regent Seven Seas and other cruise lines offer butler service to suite passengers. Some cruise lines, like Celebrity, also offer special "spa" cabins that are situated near spa facilities and include certain treatments in the per passenger fare. Think about what's important to you and select a cabin accordingly.

If you're new to cruising or are sailing in what are traditionally rough waters, you may wish to book a cabin on a low deck, midship. This is where you'll feel the least amount of movement, which can help if you're prone to seasickness.

cruise line has its own style and price point and each ship has its own vibe that often depends on the ship's age and amenities, crew, guest contingent, and the ports the ship calls upon. If you stay at full-service hotels like Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton on land, booking an inside cabin on a budget line like Carnival or Norwegian Cruise Line might be a mistake. Likewise, if you're traveling with small children, be sure to select a company like Disney Cruise Line that caters to families and offers special programs for kids. The best way to learn about different cruise lines is to talk with a travel agent who knows and understands the different cruise lines.