If you are ready to book, then keep reading to discover almost everything you need to know about how to book a cruise. While I promote working with a travel agent who is an expert about cruising (I can make a recommendation), you will find all the steps needed to take you from booking to bon voyage! If you have anything to add or share, please leave a comment.
Why listen to me?
I was a cruise salesperson, and I sat across the table from many customers who did not have a clue about the many options available for planning a perfect cruise vacation. It seems easy enough, sure, what’s so hard about looking on a cruise line’s website, picking a cruise, and paying for it? But (cringing here), there is a better way.
I am not proposing that you give up your travel freedom and call an 800 number to book a cruise. What I am suggesting (with enthusiasm) is that you do some preliminary research to make an informed decision. Well, you may be thinking, “that is what I am doing. After all, how hard can it be?”
Frequently Asked Questions
The hardest part of any cruise vacation (besides going home) is pre-cruise planning. A lot of thought and effort goes into the research phase to discover where to cruise.
How far in advance should you book?
While it may seem that waiting for a discount is a good idea, you may be disappointed because the price may not go down, or the cruise you want is sold out. Cruise lines offer many incentives to people that want to book in advance. In most cases, a small deposit can be made with the final payment not due until 90 days before sailing. While waiting can yield some incredible deals, it is not the best option for those traveling in groups or for travelers that need to make arrangements for pre or post-cruise stays. Also, most people don’t know that if the price of the cruise goes down, the cruise line will adjust the price IF a traveler calls to check on pricing and availability and finds the same pricing category at a lower price.
Cruise Planning Tips
- Book as far in advance that you can for the best prices and amenities (free drinks, onboard credits, free wi-fi are a few examples).
- Research the ports of call in advance so you know how to maximize your time in port.
- Download the cruise line’s app (if they have one) before the cruise.
- Pre-book shows, spa treatments, and specialty restaurants before you get on the ship (if you can).
- If you drink wine, bring a bottle on the ship of your favorite vintage (check with the cruise line about their policy).
- Bring everything you need for Day 1 in a carryon bag.
- Bring water shoes for beach days.
- Watch out for cell phone charges, turn off roaming and disconnect from cell service while the ship is out at sea.
- Don’t add extra tips on drinks. Check your bill to make sure a gratuity was not already added.