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If you’re looking for a fun and stress free way to travel with your family, consider taking a cruise. On a cruise ship vacation everything is done for you, you have very few choices to fret over, and when you do decide how to spend your time ashore, it will all be organized for you.
A cruise ship vacation can also often be a bargain. Discounts are being offered all the time. Look for deals at the end of a season when the ships are moving to a new location.
This type of travel is not for everybody. Many people find it too homogenized, it’s like taking America with you when you travel. You won’t have the same cultural experience you would if you actually visited the country, rather than just their port. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy it though. My parents have always been very adventurous travelers and had never considered a cruise, until we were in Stockholm recently and we discovered that a cruise is the best way to see a lot of the Stockholm Archipelago. Now they’re considering booking a cruise for the whole family.
The food on cruise ships is usually above average, and often unlimited, but it’s not the same as finding a special little bistro loved by locals.
Here are a few tips to help make your cruise ship vacation an enjoyable experience.
1. Be Aware of Extras
Keep tabs on your extras so it’s not shocking when you check out at the end of your cruise. If you are buying drinks, going on excursions, eating at specialty restaurants, getting Starbucks and seeing special theme shows, you are going to have a hefty bill at the end. There are a lot of little extras that seem like a good deal but really aren’t. Some ships sell soft drink cards which are only a good deal if you drink a lot of cokes.
By planning ahead, you can book your own excursions and save a lot. It’s not difficult, everything you need is on the internet. You don’t have to buy the photos being taken on board. Maybe they will catch an awesome shot of you that you just can’t say no to, but don’t feel compelled to buy all these photos that a crew member has taken. Allow yourself to be disconnected for a few days and don’t pay extra for internet. The world will keep spinning. I promise.
2. research your ports of call
Unless you’ve booked an excursion, likely all you’ll get from the cruise ship when you disembark in a port is a map showing the list of stores that kick back to the cruise line. Click around online before your trip and find all the not to be missed activities, restaurants, beaches, etc so you can trip like a local.
3. Wash Your Hands – A Lot
Cruise ships, like any place where there are so many people in close proximity, are still hotbeds for contracting a Norovirus. Flu shots don’t help prevent these. The crew has all been trained on how to keep the ship clean, but it’s a lot of people, really densely packed in, touching everything. Carry hand sanitizer with you because you will be grabbing handrails a lot.
4. Enjoy It For What It Is
You are on a floating resort. Use all the amenities just like you would any other resort. This can be one of the most relaxing vacations you’ve ever taken. Rather than scurry around getting ready for a shore excursion, enjoy the view as you approach land, especially beyond the port area. Unless you have plenty of time on shore to get away from the port, don’t even bother getting off the ship. The port areas have been designed to corral you and entice you to rush around and buy junk. There are no great deals there. Even the pharmacies advertising great deals on prescription medications are charging about 3 times what they charge a few streets back where they don’t have to kick back to the ship.
5. Organize Your Cruise Ship Vacation With Friends or Family
It’s always wonderful to meet new and interesting people while on vacation but a cruise really can be a ton of fun with people you enjoy. Many cruises are family oriented with great activities for the kids.