Are you prepping to set sail on your first cruise?
Unlike road trips or other vacations where spur-of-the-moment experiences are inevitable, cruises require plenty of planning to ensure an enjoyable, wallet-friendly trip.
However, with a bit of preparation, it’s more than possible to plan a perfect, well-budgeted vacation. These are a few questions from Grand Carribean Cruises to ask yourself before you vacation on the high seas.
Let’s set sail!
What is your budget?
Setting a budget is important for any vacation, but it is especially relevant when you’re planning a cruise. A cruise can be pricier than other trips, as you pay for both the cost of sailing on the cruise and other onboard expenses.
These may include drinks, tips, excursions, and internet packages. Remaining aware of what you’re spending on the ship, at port, and for the cruise vacation package, itself, is necessary for a financially-friendly trip.
How can you budget best for a cruise that’s in your price range?
There are always chances to blow money on a cruise, so having an idea of what you’re willing to spend is essential. You’ll need to factor in the cost of the cruise, expenses for excursions (such as port taxes), and onboard splurges.
The minimum cost for cruises in areas around the U.S. seems to fall between $600 and $1,000 per person per week, though many cruises cost upward of $1,400 per person per week. Port taxes can tack on another $100-$200 per person.
Are you planning on driving or flying to the first cruise port? Gas money and/or plane ticket expenses may also need to be a part of your budget.
You’ll also need to consider the number of people in your cruise party, as each individual will accrue their own costs. Setting aside $100 a day per person can be practical for individual vacation expenses, but cruises can charge even more for shopping, dining, and events onboard.
How do you save money?
One way to save money on a cruise is to book the cruise between 9 months and 1 year before the ship sets sail. Early bird discounts are often offered. Booking last minute (2 months before) can also score you a discounted price.
It’s helpful, if not necessary, to research the prices of excursions that you’re interested in at each port. A zip lining tour through the mountains of Cozumel will cost much more than kicking back on a beach for free.
What is your dream destination?
Whether you want to visit the luxurious beaches of the Bahamas or view the gorgeous wilderness of the Alaskan landscape, there is a cruise destination available for almost anyone. Your dream port spots have more to do with your overall vacation plans than you might think.
How does your intended destination affect your cruise planning?
If you’re planning on sailing for less than a week, you’ll likely have fewer options for sailing destinations. Locations throughout the Carribean are popular for people who are seeking out a shorter cruise. Most cruise lines won’t go far off from the U.S. when cruising time is limited.
Your destination may also play into the time of year that you decide to cruise. During certain times of the year, cruises are cheaper, specifically on dates that aren’t during or around large holidays or summer vacation. Prices tend to be lowest during the fall and spring seasons when the weather is unpredictable and school is in session.
Seasonal changes can also alter the weather, scenery, and wildlife in certain destinations. If you want to visit Alaska when it’s not dark all day long, setting sail in the summer is wise. If you’re looking to avoid the unpredictable weather of hurricane season around the Gulf Coast and the Carribean, a spring cruise might be ideal for you.
Who is cruising with you?
Are you setting sail on a personal getaway? Are you cruising for your honeymoon? Or are you bringing along a cluster of kids that you’ll have to keep up with? Considering who is accompanying you on your cruise can help you make an informed decision about which cruise line is best for you.
What’s the difference between traveling alone, with a spouse, with friends, or with kids?
Different ships are designed to suit different demographics of people. Some cruise lines are more family-friendly than others, and others are geared solely towards adults. The Grand Classica and the Grand Celebration are phenomenal cruise lines for families. They have programs, clubs, and events designed for kids and teens of all ages. Their ships have free, adult-supervised activities to keep kiddos occupied throughout the day.
If you’re looking for a cruise line fit for an adult-only vacation, you’re in luck. Several cruise lines offer trips for only adults. Some have strict policies for children-free travel, only allowing people 18+ to sail.
If you’re not opposed to seeing some children around, other ships offer locations onboard that are adult-only, including both decks and venues. Some cruise lines offer retreats throughout the year only for adults.
Finding a cruise suited for everyone in your vacation party will help make your journey hassle and complaint-free.
Will you enjoy the cruise environment?
One incredible feature of most cruises is that they include plenty of on-ship events to keep your days on the waves exciting.
However, some people may not enjoy the social aspect of cruises as much as others. Most cruises can hold thousands of passengers. An introvert or socially-anxious person may not have a blast sailing on a major cruise line.
If you’re not up for being stuck on the high seas with a massive population, a cruise may not be your cup of tea. If you or your family is dead-set on taking a cruise, consider looking into smaller cruise ships.
Some cruise lines offer ships that host under 100 people, making them more optimal for those who dislike large events with tons of people.
That’s a wrap!
If you’re considering taking a cruise in the future, make sure you assess your budget, your dream destination, the members of your vacation party, and if the cruise ship environment is right for you.
Veteran cruise passengers: do you have any questions you wish you’d asked yourself before setting sail on your first cruise?
Let us know in the comments!