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Are you sure your cruise is going to be worthwhile?

By Jenna Cyprus     Sep 21, 2013 in Travel
Cruising is one of the most luxurious recreational activities. To make sure that you're in it for all that it's worth, you have to be smart when planning one.
Whether you’re booking your first cruise to the Mediterranean or you’re a veteran “cruiser” who’s planning another vacation on the open sea, are you sure you’re getting the most out of your cruise? As a newbie, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However, as a seasoned cruise goer, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and not branch out to explore. No matter how many cruises you have under your belt, it’s time to make the most of your next trip with a little planning.
Start by assessing just what kind of cabin you really need. If you’re on a budget, a basic cabin will probably suffice because they’re much roomier than you think. Plus, you’ll be spending the majority of your time outside the cabin, soaking up all the entertainment and exciting activities available. However, a special suite might just be what’s necessary if you’re planning something special like a proposal—consider where you’ll spend most of your time and book accordingly.
Look and plan
The deck plan is always posted online well before you get on board. Find out where your cabin will be located, and don’t book below a busy area like the dining room or pool area. New York City might have a reputation for the city that never sleeps, but it’s actually cruises that never have a dull moment. Cabins are for sleeping, so choose a place that’s as quiet as possible, particularly if you’ll be bringing little ones.
Once that’s in order, start planning your activities and excursions now. These are also often available to book in advance, and it can help you budget both your time and money. Figure out what kind of cruise you’d like—one that’s packed with adventure, or one with plenty of down time. Make sure you “schedule” time to simply relax on the beach, sightsee with no destination in mind or even sleep in on those days when you’ll be catching a late show the night before.
Stay connected
There will be plenty of times when your smartphones will be out of range—but those cruise ships are big and it’s easy to lose your travel buddies. Investing in a set of walkie talkies is the best way to stay in touch, especially if you have a big group or are traveling with teens who tend to wander off. Plus, you can store your smartphones and enjoy a (mostly) tech-free holiday for once.
When it comes to staying “connected,” that also means with your inner peace. Check out the on-deck spas and consider planning a full day of pampering. However, scour the menu for things you can’t get elsewhere for a real treat, such as an exotic facial using items from ports of call. As for that mani/pedi combination? That’s something you can check off your list before the cruise.
Free is a wonderful word
There are going to be plenty of freebies on your cruise, in terms of food, beverages and entertainment. For budget-minded travelers, take full advantage of the free stuff. This is especially important if you’re traveling with children, because some cruises cater to little ones and offer a bevy of free entertainment. As for beverages, look into beverage plans for a guilt-free splurge.
Most importantly, leave your stresses at the dock. Full immersion is the best way to make the most of your trip, so forget about checking emails, constantly scanning your smartphone for more bars or settling into a routine if you’re a frequent cruiser. Explore, discover and sample it all. If you choose the right cruise for you from a reputable company, it’ll help put you on the fast track to a cruise to remember.
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