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How to Make the most of your first Cruise

So you’ve decided to go on your first cruise. If you’re like a lot of first-timers, you have a lot of questions on how to make the most of this first sea voyage.

First thing you need to do is to pick out the cruise line and itinerary that is right for you and your traveling companions. Are you interested in many ports of call or more days on the ship? Do you want an ocean view room or will just a place to lay your head suffice? Do you want a lot of activities on board like Broadway shows, gambling, rock walls, and slides. Are you traveling with a family and would like a more family-oriented liner? Also, you need to think of your budget. Do you want more amenities? If so, be willing to pay more.

Once you have figured out what cruise line and itinerary is best for you, you need to book it. You can do this through a travel agent or through the company’s website. You will need a credit or debit card to secure your reservation. After you have booked the trip, now is a good time to get that passport if you have not done so. If you do not have a passport, you need to apply for one in person at various sites like post offices and passport agencies, according to the U.S. Department of State website. You can also renew your passport if it has been issued less than 15 years ago, undamaged, if you received it when you were over the age of 16, or you are changing you name. For more information, visit their website at http://travel.state.gov/

In the weeks leading up to your trip, be sure to pick up the essentials you need. Don’t over pack. The cruise lines will offer toiletries, water, hair dryers, and many other things you need. Most highly recommended is to get seasickness medication such as Bonine or Dramamine if you have even the slightest concern you might become seasick during the sea voyage.

Be sure to check out the website of the cruise line you booked with and book your shore excursions and onboard activities early. Depending on the cruise line, you may want to purchase a soda card so you can have your sodas pre-paid by the time you get on board. Not all cruise lines sell soda cards however. If you cruise on the Disney Cruise Line, the soda is free.

Be warned that many cruises offer many different things. Royal Caribbean offers the Rock Wall, the Solarium, gambling, Johnny Rockets, and many other activities. They now also offer My Time Dining, a new feature where you can choose to eat at anytime between 6-9 p.m. with a much smaller group of people and in many cases, just who you came with, making it a total departure from the traditional assigned seating in cruising where you sit with others at dinner each night. Norwegian Cruise Line offers cruising your way where you can do whatever you want and eat whenever you want. Disney Cruise Line offers a throwback to the elegance of the old transatlantic liner days with a touch of Disney Magic. There is no gambling on any Disney ship, but there are adults only areas which include a pool, coffee bar, and night club district. They also have their own private island as well.

Most importantly, don’t over plan. Leave room for exploring the ship and just having down time. You’ll be surprised how much fun a cruise can really be and how much you won’t be able to wait to go back.