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Read the Cruisin Bob's favorite tips and frequently asked questions on packing, dining, excursions, cabin selection, embarkation and more!

    When selecting a cruise do not worry about the cruise-line, select a ship that meets your needs as every ship has it’s strong and weak points however, itinerary should be your driving factor. Cruise lines all offer something different and each ship has its good and bad points, but a strong itinerary and balanced number of days at sea can really make a difference! Try and stick with the newer or refurbished ships as they tend to offer more modern amenities and activities. Packing a little lighter can make your trip much easier – you can carry your bags straight off the ship upon disembarking and won’t have to worry about putting them outside the night before! Sea days can offer a nice reprieve from a port heavy itinerary – there are many activities and things to do on board. Cabin Guarantee- If you book a cabin guarantee this means is that you are guarateed a cabin in the category you purchased. Booking a guarantee could result in an upgrade to higher cabin category or a local less tha desirable. If you are traveling to your port by air, consider flying to a city that is close vice the port city itself, you might be saving quite a bit of money, once again AIRFARE is key Formal Night- you can dress up or just look sharp, you will NOT be turned away from the main dinning room unless you have shorts and or flip flops. Gratuities are standard and expected; prepaying them saves the hassle at checkout. Gratuities are automatically charged on all beverages. If you are worried about the motion of the boat, don’t! You will barely be able to feel it even moving on most days! Ginger pills are great if you do experience sea sickness! Cruising Europe/Asia/Mediterranean Cruising Europe/Asia/Australia in not expensive if you PLAN well ahead. I usually select two(2) or three(3) cruises that I WANT to sail, then wait for the Airfare to go on sale if I see an airfare to my destination on sale I BUY it, but I do not book the cruise. Select two (2) or three (3) cruises that you want to take, then try to match or wait for the airfare to go on sale, if you see the airfare to one of your cruises on sale, book the airfare, then book the cruise. Some cruise lines offer a combination of airfare and cruise deals, theses deals can be great but be aware that the airline, flight time and stops will be selected by the cruise line. ​When to Go Cruising can be a lot more relaxed and less crowded with families if you avoid Spring Break (mid March- mid April), Summer (June-end of August) and the holidays (Thanksgiving, Xmas, New Years). Read More:
    Looking to save big on travel credit cards check out; Be aware that cruise and travel insurance are not legal requirements but the insurance will usually cover medical claims, lost luggage and missed flights. If you are going to buy insurance, BUY your insurance when you make your cruise deposit, most policies will then cover pre existing conditions and some will feature the “cancel for any reason” clause. This WILL NOT be the case if you buy your insurance at final payment. You can buy a “ Cancel for any reason” policy but that will usually cost more than the standard policy especially if bought at final payment. Cruise insurance from the cruise line may only provide limited coverage and have restrictions. Buy your insurance from an independent dealer verses the cruise line. Check out;
    If cost is a factor, an inside cabin can be a steal – Remember, there are plenty of places all over the ship to enjoy the view! Select a cabin that meets your budget and will make your stay memorable. Cabin location is also key – some people like cabins near the middle of the ship away from the elevators and noise while many like being close to the elevators for convenience. Also, lookout for dining rooms or sports courts above your room location as this could mean noisy days and nights. Check “cruise deck plans website” for a good view of cabin location. Balcony rooms offer a nice perk on cruises with many sea days or in places like Alaska where there is a lot to see while on board. Suites offer ultimate luxury and you will get numerous perks while on board ship. Consider booking a “guarantee” cabin to save some cash, you could even get a free upgrade, but this will usually depend on your cruise line status and availability.
    Bring travel size of everything. All rooms have blow dryers so no need to pack those. Irons are hard to come by, so pack some de-wrinkle spray and consider packing wrinkle free clothes. Hanging clothes in the bathroom while on board to steam them also works well. If you like a little music consider bringing a small music plug in. Bring small bills to leave extra tips at the bar or for exceptional service – the cruise staff will thank you! If you forget toiletries, there is a sundries shop on board, which is usually cheaper than in port. Binoculars are fun and come in handy on sea days. Bring ziplock bags (these come in handy for just about everything) and a small portable backpack or beach bag for port days. All ships have a laundry service and some cruise lines even have washers and dryers, check your ship “cruise information” prior to sailing. Bring a windbreaker and/or umbrella – weather can be unpredictable!
    All ships cater to every dietary requirement, if you have a special need, mention it to the maître d or head waiter on the first day. Cruise lines are becoming flexible with dining times – you can choose between traditional set times or dine when you like. If you want to choose your own time the best way is to let your travel agent know so it can be selected prior to your sail date. Trying to arrange this on the first night with the maître d will be a challenge as many others are trying to do the same. In some cases you can also request the same wait staff if that is your preference. If you have a large group be aware that larger tables can be harder to accommodate with the same seating arrangement night after night Most ships now offer “freestyle/Anytime” dining where you choose your dining time. However, if you want to eat during peak hours it helps to make reservations for the full cruise the first day. All ships offer multiple alternatives for the main restaurant dining, from room service to buffets, to “for a fee” specialty restaurants, and the fee varies between $5-40 per person. Don’t be shy about asking for food or requesting things like three appetizers at dinner or extra lemons – that is the point of the restaurants – they are there to serve your every need!
    Personally, I have taken the ship and non-ship sponsored excursions and have rarely encountered problems, going on an excursion is a personal choice; everyone has something they prefer in port – sightseeing, shopping, adventure, etc. Many people opt for excursions offered by the cruise line while others plan their own. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options: ​ Ship sponsored excursions: Peace of mind that the ship will never depart port without you. Usually a large group with a SET schedule. Usually in a bus(large) that is waiting dockside. Usually offer mobility assistance. Ability to book during or before your cruise and charging to your ship account. Private excursions: Require more planning time and research online. Smaller in group size with a schedule that can be flexible. Booking ahead is usually required and some vendors require pre-payment and many only take cash. has a plethora of information and reviews on non-ship excursions, go to the “roll call” thread for your sailing and read the posts from fellow cruisers on your ship sailing. Usually much cheaper than ship excursions for the same excursion. Many are arranged by fellow passengers who split the cost. Fellow passengers post the excursions and it is usually on the honor system. Remember – when in port ALWAYS keep your watch on ship time.
    This process has been simplified over the years – if you arrive at the port at around 11am you should be able to board rather quickly. Be sure to pack a small carry on for boarding, with a swimsuit or small things you may need as it will take a few hours to get your luggage after you board. There is always a lunch buffet being served when you board – so go light on breakfast! Be sure to ask the person at check in if all your pre-booked goodies are on your account (like prepaid alcohol package, spa services, etc.). Most cruise lines now allow you can carry on two bottles of wine on most ships, so pack accordingly!
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