Cruise vacations offer something truly special – a chance to sail off into the sunset that is brimming with exhilarating possibilities. It’s no wonder then that cruising has become the most popular vacation format far and wide. It lends you a unique opportunity to enrich your life by visiting numerous locations without ever checking out of your hedonist fortress of a “hotel”. If the idea of sailing large excites you, here are some tips for planning your first cruise.

Don’t jump at the first opportunity

Sit in front of your computer screen and light it like fire. Keep hitting that keyboard and don’t stop researching cruises until you are absolutely certain about your wishes and appetites. As with most important life decisions, it all begins with questions such as: What appeals to you the most about the concept of a cruise? Are you travelling alone or with a family? Is there a romantic component to it? Are you a party maniac? How luxurious does it have to be?

Thankfully, we live in a time when the cruise business is thriving and you are likely to find a cruise ship with an itinerary that perfectly fits your sensibilities. If you want to pinpoint a source of truly exceptional advice about this niche, hit Cruise Critic’s webpage. The information on that page will give you some quality pros and cons of various cruises, all based on first-hand experiences.

Be on the lookout for deals

Agencies are competing on the oversaturated market for the interest of potential customers, which bodes well for suitable package deals. Cruises are scheduled all year long, so there’s a high chance you’ll find some nifty deals if you really go out of your way to look for them.

When it comes to booking, you know what they say about early birds – stay within the opportune time frame and you’ll save up a sizeable sum of pocket money for your trip. If you go for these early-bird rates, you can get your dream cruise for between 25% and 50% off and get optimal rates for flights and hotels at some, if not all, of the ports on your cruise schedule.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as last-minute deals, which usually begin to pop up two months before the sail. The advantage of this is that you can grab an immediate cruise at a markedly lowered price, but it also entails a lack of options when it comes to accommodation and accompanying features, plus you will definitely not get the parameters you want – like cabin type, its location and the port.

Pack small and smart

As you browse exciting cruise lines, you should always check ports of embarkation and the general area the cruise will cover just to get a broad idea of what to pack. While you might be tempted to bring half of your house along, above all else, you should pack small and smart.

First of all, make sure you have copies of your personal documentation – ID, passport, visa, driver’s license, etc. – neatly stacked into a robust file and placed at the bottom of your suitcase. You never know if your handbag or backpack will end up snatched and you’ll have an administrative nightmare on your hands. Keep digital copies of your personal documentation on a USB drive too.

Second, the most important piece of advice you can get in when it comes to packing for a cruise is to be aware of the fact you are not going on your regular land-locked vacation. Indeed, you will visit many locations, but you will unpack only once! Your cabin on the cruise ship is your first and your last accommodation for the duration of this journey.

Pack at least one formal outfit in case the dress-code necessitates it for a particular location or part of the ship. Pack underwear according to the number of days you will spend on your cruise and, most importantly, throw in a pair of shoes for every occasion – formal shoewear, a light and casual pair, comfy sneakers for walking sessions and at least one pair of slippers. Oh, and don’t forget at least one pair of jeans – this chameleon piece of clothing that can serve you well on practically any occasion.

Planning your cruise is not unlike planning any other sort of vacation, but it definitely comes with some notable perks. The ship itself is a colorful playground fashioned exclusively for eager travelers, so you’ll hardly want for anything on this hedonist central if you pay for the full package. Arm yourself with good mood and embark on the seafaring journey of your life.

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