11 Common Cruise Mistakes To Avoid
Through my years of cruising and talking to passengers, and as I’ve followed discussions on cruise forums and read stories on cruise sites, blogs and magazines, I have identified 11 common mistakes that cruise travelers make.
(1) Choosing the wrong cruise type. There is a vast choice of cruising options that range from massive 4,000 passenger cruise ships to private charter barges for a handful of your friends. There a myriad of ways you can cruise and so finding the type that suits your interests best is going to be key to enjoying the experience. Getting it wrong creates a miserable vacation for some cruisers.
(2) Choosing the wrong destination and itinerary. Once you have chosen the type of cruise that you are likely to enjoy most then selecting the right destination and the itinerary within it is essential. Not every cruise to your chosen destination will be the same. You need to ensure you have the right mix of sea days, port days and calls on the sorts of places you will like and enjoy. There are areas of the world you likely want to visit, and making sure that the cruise itinerary takes you to the right destinations within that region is essential.
(3) Choosing the wrong cruise line. Cruise lines are all different and aim to provide experiences that appeal to a specific type of traveler both from a demographic and attitude point of view. You could be calling on the same ports in a 7-day cruise in a region and have a totally different vacation as the cruise line accommodation, food, entertainment (or lack of), dress codes, degree of formality, mix of people and even type of excursions will be different by line.
(4) Choosing the wrong cabin. Large cruise ships can have up to 20 different types of cabins, river cruises can have a range of 4 or 5 types while freighters may offer no choice. As each ships is different in design you need to understand the features and choices for each ship. You need to make sure that you choose a cabin that meets your vacation habits and preferences.
(5) Not using a cruise agent. As the common mistakes already listed indicate, choosing a cruise is complex. I do not recommend booking directly with a cruise line or online. You should work with an expert cruise agent who can guide and recommend your choices.
(6) Forgetting details like passports and visa. A passport is the most usual form of identification even if you are cruising within your home country. Leaving it at home is one of the more common mistakes people make especially if they are departing from a home port. Some countries require a certain number of months before it expires and a number of blank pages, some will require visas to self tour or transfer off a cruise to catch a flight. You need to check well in advance your passport is valid and get any visas.
(7) Letting your budget get out of control. There can be many costs on top of your cruise ticket including the cost of getting to join your cruise and on-board add-on costs like gratuities and drinks. The extra costs vary by cruise and cruise line. Once on-board you need to monitor and control your spend as it can mount up if you are not careful.
(8) Traveling without insurance. Some cruise lines will not allow you to travel without insurance. But even if they do, I strongly recommend good insurance to cover you should you need to cancel your cruise or fall ill while away. The medical costs can be large if you have to be evacuated from your cruise or repatriated home and people traveling without coverage risk many thousands of dollars in costs.
(9) Packing the wrong things. You need to understand the dress code on the ship and also the climate. Cruise message boards are filled with stories of people having the wrong clothes and having to stock up with appropriate items.
(10) Stopping planning once you’ve booked your cruise. To make the most of the limited time you have in port, you need to plan what you are going to do in each port before you leave. You will be in most ports for only 6 to 8 hours. If you’re planning to tour yourself then check the transportation options. If you plan to take the ship’s excursions book before you leave to avoid disappointment of them being sold out.
(11) Missing the ship. Not allowing enough time for traffic or flight delays at the start of a cruise or returning from exploring a port too late are mistakes too many cruisers make.
What other ones do you have? Any I have left off?