First Time Cruisers

Welcome Aboard Ė Let Us Assist You! Thank you for stopping by!

Vacations are an important event in your life. You have worked hard and deserve time off to relax and get away from it all. The decision to try a "different kind of vacation" sometimes is wrought with anxiety of the unknown. You are asking yourself, "Is Cruising for Me?" This page is for those of you who need a little reassurance that "Cruising is definitely for You!" Cruisin Easy offers you some reasons and some helpful hints how to book that cruise now with less apprehension.

Please select from the table of contents below:


Table Of Contents

5 fabulous reason to go on a Cruise Vacation according to Cruisin Easy!

  1. You can be active and busy or as laid back as your heart desires.
  2. You only unpack once but can go to a multiple of destinations without worry about transportation, driving or hotels.
  3. You can be pampered with extra services such as breakfast in bed, a soothing spa/fitness center, and attentive staff who want your voyage to be as gratifying as conceivable. Cruising is a "no brainer" vacation as everything is planned carefully and executed just for you!
  4. 90+% (transportation, transfers, stateroom, food and entertainment) of the cost of your vacation are paid for in advance. If you want Lobster, two entrees or multiple deserts it is included in the initial cost. There is no cover charge for entertainment and the ship is a floating resort. No Big Surprise costs once you get there!
  5. There is nothing like the fresh sea air or the romance of walking on deck under a sky full of stars to totally escape from the challenges of everyday life!

Some Misapprehensions about Cruising Exposed!

  1. Cruising is too expensive. ~~~ The price of your cruise includes your stateroom, 7 meals or more per day (if you wish), your entertainment, use of the gym, onboard activities, if you are traveling with children, supervised programs and activities for time alone and more. Compare this to the land vacation you have been taking, which typically includes only hotel and transportation. When you return home unfortunately it also includes a credit card bill or a big chunk of change you spent from your savings for all the "extras AKA vacation essentials" such as food, entertainment, child care, etc. you didnít initially pay with your package. Your total vacation cost is more than your total cruise package.
  2. I will get Sea Sick. ~~~ There are many "calm sea" itineraries that you will experience such as minimal ship motion unless inclement weather strikes. Careful planning can also avoid potential weather seasons. If you are really anxious about motion discomfort, over the counter or prescription medications work for nearly everyone as well as Sea Bands which are accupressure wristbands that many users swear by.
  3. Iíll Be Bored. ~~~ The advantage of cruising is that you can go non-stop participating in activities or be as lazy as you please. If you sail on a ship with a Theme Cruise or even with Educational Program where you can earn continuing education credits for your profession or for self enrichment, you wonít have time to be bored! You can do active activities such as the disco, fitness center, golf, skating or even try out a rock climbing wall to less strenuous activities such as bridge, guest lecturers, singing at the piano bar or reading a book on deck enjoying perfect weather. You also have ports of call, shopping, and bingo! The word boring is never associated with a cruise because you are doing what you want to do!
  4. Itís too dressy! ~~~ On most cruise ships, two formal evenings per week consist of a suit or after 5 dress or pantsuit. Yes some passengers do get dressy, but you can be assured that you will fit right in if you donít want to dress up. Otherwise it is pretty casual attire with shirt and slacks and other comfortable clothes.
  5. Cruising is for Newly Weds or Nearly Deads! ~~~ The days are gone when only grandma and grandpa cruised or only honeymooners. Yes both categories still cruise but you will find on 3, 4, 5 and 7 day cruises a large number of age groups from families with children upwards. As the length of the cruise goes up, so does the average age on the ship if age is an issue for you.

How much will it cost?

The price of a cruise will vary with sailing season, length of the cruise by ship and by stateroom category. Some general guidelines for the cost of cruising are:

  • Budget cruises: $75 - $125 per person per day
  • Moderate cruises: $150 - $250 per person per day
  • Expensive: $300 - $850 and upwards per person, per day

To figure out the per diem, (cost per day) divide the total rate by the number of days and then again by the number of people traveling. Keep in mind that brochure rates are rarely the rate you will pay and rates can and do fluctuate sometime daily based on the cruise lineís load factors and the number of passengers already booked on a particular sailing date. Cruisin Easy strives to find you the best rates offered plus we include added value!

What Ship should I sail on?

You will find that the ship you select is the first destination of your cruise. Your enjoyment will depend greatly on how much you take pleasure from the vessel you have chosen. Always consider your personal interests and lifestyle when selecting a cruise line or ship. Here is a to do list to assist in choosing the best ship for you.

  1. Look at the brochure! What kind of passengers do they depict in the brochure? Are they young or older, do they show families and children? Do they show fancy cuisine or elaborate entertainment? Do they show active onboard activities or more sedate activities? Can you picture yourself in these pictures? If so, it may be a good indicator that you are the target market for this cruise line.
  2. At Cruisin Easy, we ask you what your interests are and match those interests to the ship and cruise line that can deliver that product to you. The more you tell your agent about your likes and dislikes, the better they will be able to recommend a good ship and cruise line match for you. An experienced cruise travel experience is worth there weight in gold!
  3. Check out our Special Needs and Activity Charts. See what the cruise lines and ships have to offer. Do they match your interests and needs?
  4. Use the Cruisin Easy Bulletin Board and ask other passengers for feedback on the cruise line and ship that you are considering.
  5. Check out the Cruise Reviews after you have narrowed down the selection to one or two cruise lines or ships. See what other passengers have experienced. Remember though, that everyone has different likes and dislikes and standards, i.e. if you find more good comments than bad, you are pretty safe!
  6. An educated cruiser is a happy cruiser. Donít base your decision on price or you may be disappointed unnecessarily!

How do I Select an Itinerary?

Most first time cruisers elect to test the waters with a 3, 4, 5 or 7 day itinerary in the Caribbean or if they reside west of the Rocky Mountains, a Mexico itinerary. You will find the best variety of ships and passenger types in the Caribbean. The Caribbean also offers the most discounts, sailing dates and calm sailing waters with a plethora of popular activities. If destination is more your focus, then a 7 day Alaska or Mediterranean cruise will offer alternatives with distinctive sights at the ports and differences in atmosphere and passenger.

Often first time cruisers will select itineraries with lots of ports. Donít feel like you have do be at a new port every day. Experienced cruisers appreciate their days at sea and enjoy the amenities the ships have to offer and so will you! Another consideration is to compare similar itineraries with the amount of actual time spent in the ports. Again, consider an itinerary that will go hand in hand with your special interest or activity needs.

How do I Choose a Stateroom?

There are many variables in choosing the best cabin to fit your budget. It is important to let a Cruisin Easy Crew Member assist you. Cabins sometimes can vary in size and amenities depending on the cruise line you have selected. As artist renditions of deck plans are drawn to be neat and tidy, they often donít indicate an accurate depiction of the deck and cabin space.

All ship staterooms have private bathrooms with showers typically with radio/canned music, bedding for two passengers or more and closet space. Newer ships also include twin beds that can be converted to "cruise ship queens", color TVís and additional amenities such as in cabin safes, hair dryers, mini-refrigerators, bath robe, etc.

You will find that the Suites and least expensive staterooms typically sell out first as passengers want either the best or want to spend the least possible. The new trend is that balcony or verandah staterooms also sell out quickly as it is a wonderful amenity without the high cost of a suite which use to be the standard for staterooms with balconies.

On the newer ships rooms typically are of standard size with some ships averaging 125 to 150 square feet per cabin and others with 170 to 180 square feet per cabin. Some brochures will give you sample dimensions and other will not. If size is of great importance to you make sure you consult your Cruisin Easy Crew Member to get specific size. On older ships, cabin sizes can fluctuate greatly within cabin categories. Again, donít trust ship maps, but ask for the actual square footage, as the maps often are not drawn to scale.

Other variables for consideration for individual ships are aft and stern location staterooms. Often the only differences between like-category staterooms are the deck location. If the ship you have chosen prone to engine noise or vibration or anchor noise when the anchor is dropped? Mid ship is most often the preferred location, although there are some ships with mid ship engines, so in these cases this is not the preference. Although promenade deck cabins, (those with a walkway outside your window), have reflective glass so you donít experience the fish bowl effect of potential passer-byes gazing into your stateroom, you must also consider the diminished view and the potential noise if it is a jogging deck. Is there noise seepage from Public Rooms above or below your cabin selection? Do you want to be close or far away from a stairway or elevator? These are just a few of the many things to consider when selecting a stateroom! An ironic pricing of ships is that the least amount of motion is felt on the shipís lowest decks, which often are also the least expensive staterooms. Typically the suites and balcony stateroom are on higher decks which have fantastic views but not always the best ride should you encounter some weather. Inside cabins, (those with no windows) are the best rates. If you donít mind the lack of natural light in the room and you donít plan on spending a lot of time in your room, then save some money and book an inside room. If you like waking up to sunshine or natural light that you experience through your window or glass door of your balcony, by all means, you deserve this amenity and are worth the extra cost to enjoy it.

Here are some important considerations to clarify with your Cruisin Easy Crew Member when selecting your stateroom:

  • Square footage of Stateroom
  • Inside Vs. Oceanview (Outside), Oceanview with Balcony, Mini-Suite or Suite
  • Location of the deck on the ship and location on the deck
  • Difference between one category and another
  • Standard amenities of the stateroom
  • Do you have an unobstructed view?
  • Possible source of nearby noise (disco, casino, showroom, fitness center, anchor, etc.)
  • Special Amenities and size of balcony stateroom, mini-suites and suits, such as butler service, VCR, walk-in closets bathtubs, etc.

Should I book my Airfare Independently?

Typically, unless you live within a driving distance to the port of embarkation, you will require air transportation to the port city. Check the cruise line brochure to see if the "Air/Sea" program they offer includes a gateway locale to your residence. Remember the rates may seem high, but they include your round-trip transfers from the airport to the pier and in some instances also include a complimentary hotel night such as in the instance that you live on the West Coast and are sailing on an East Coast Cruise.

You can also book as a cruise only and arrange your air separately. You can purchase transfer from the cruise line or set up your own. If you decide to do this make sure you schedule flight the day before sailing or allow extra time to arrive in your port city should weather or flight delays occur. Sometimes you will reap benefit in saving money on the airline ticket by arranging it separately, but it is preferable to use the cruise line "Air/Sea" or air-add on program for the following reasons:

  1. With the Cruise Lineís Air/Sea program, they can track your progress on your flight. Should there be a delay, they can hold the ship for your late arrival or make plans to get you to the first port. If you make your air arrangements separately, it is your responsibility to get to the ship on time. If unforeseen delays keep you from joining the ship at the port of embarkation, it will be your responsibility to join the ship at the nearest port. This is a real strong reason to purchase travel insurance, to assist you financially should this occur under covered reasons.
  2. Your Air/Sea package includes transfers and baggage handling between the airport and the pier. Also if you purchase the cruise lineís pre or post hotel packages, transfers from the hotel to the ship or the ship to the hotel are also included as well as from and to the airport. If you book your air separately, the transfers and baggage handling are your responsibility. You can however purchase cruise line transfers or will need make arrangements on your own.
  3. If your luggage is delayed, the cruise lines must tract it down and forward it to the nearest port. If you have purchased your air separately, itís your responsibility to locate the lost luggage and arrange its delivery. Again, travel insurance can assist you with the covered costs involved in accomplishing this.

Our advise as a first time cruiser is to purchase the cruise lineís air sea package. When you become a pro and are familiar with all the ins and outs of air travel connecting to your cruise vacation, you will be better equipped to make a judgment if any monetary savings is worth the responsibility of the above potential problems. Be advised that the cruise line has allocated bulk air space and will decide your airline, flight times, if you will have non-stop, direct or connection flights, etc. based on their availability. You will not have a choice. During holidays, when space is tight, it is good to be part of this bulk space as your chances of being bumped decreases tremendously. If you should like to fly on specific airlines or flight times, this can be accomplished through the cruise line air deviation department for a fee per person approximately $35.00 to $50.00 plus any additional fees incurred such as business or first class upgrade rates, etc.

When should I book my Cruise?

The fallacy is that you get the best bargains by booking last minute and this is far from the truth. You may get lucky, but at Cruisin Easy, we monitor rate reductions. If they are offering a lower rate, we contact the cruise line and negotiate the lower rate. This is important as the earlier you book, the better selections of staterooms are available and you donít end up with whatever is left over. It is preferable to have a great stateroom and also get the best available rate. If you are looking for the best rates, avoid holiday travel periods where the demand and supply constitutes higher rates. Book early, 1 year to 6 months prior to the sailing date for best stateroom location and availability. The lowest offered rates can always be monitor if and should lower rates be offered. In many instances the early booking rate is the lowest rate and booking last minute only achieves a lousy room and location. Peak season in the Caribbean is February through Spring Break and Summer due to vacation demands again versus supply similar to holidays. You will find the best rates in periods outside the above mentioned times.

Hints for budgeting for items not included in the cruise fare!

Even though your major expenses are paid up front, you will have discretionary purchases on board the ship that can be controlled with a little preparation and common

sense. Here are some Cruisin Easy suggestions:

  1. Alcohol and Beverages Ė Soft drinks, beer, wine and mixed drinks purchases add up! Especially those drinks of the day in collector glassware. Purchase a bottle of your preferred spirit at the duty free shop on board (check if they will let you walk out with it first) or at your first port (most ships do not allow you to bring alcohol on board the ship at embarkation) and make drinks in your stateroom. Order ice tea instead of soda at lunch. Do take advantage of the unlimited soda cards that can be purchased when you get on board especially if you are cruising with kids. You will save money!
  2. Shore Excursions Ė There are other options to purchasing shore excursions on board, which can be expensive. Letís face it the cruise lines are making money on the shore excursions too! At Cruisin Easy, we give our client detailed port reports with Day tour information you can do on your own or we also offer Shore Excursions you can purchase prior to your cruise, that are the same tours offered on the ship but without the cruise line markup! We educate our passengers so they can make arrangements if they so choose on their own, thus saving money. If you educate yourself prior to your trip on what you want to see or do, you can and will save money and have a fantastic time ashore.
  3. Tipping Ė Tipping is not required on some ships and is strongly requested on others. You will find the amount of tips suggested for your waiter, busboy and cabin steward are usually well deserved, especially when you compare the degree of service to going out to dinner at home. Keep in mind that bar drinks and wine at dinner will automatically have a 15% gratuity added to your tab. So unless you feel like the server deserves an additional tip, donít dig in your pocket as they have already been tipped. As far as your headwaiter or maitreíd, if they rendered special services to you, then pay accordingly. If not, donít feel pressured into tipping them. If you have received poor service, adjust your tips to reflect service that was not up to par. On the other hand, if you think it was exceptional, reward them with a little extra. On ships such as Holland American, where tipping is not required, we have always tipped anyway if the service warrants it. We canít tell you how appreciative they are on those ships, when you give them a tip they donít normally receive. Remember these people who are serving you receive very little salary. There tips are important and deserved if they have given you good service!
  4. All those Casino bright lights and noises beckoned you! Set an amount you are comfortable with spending before you go on your cruise and then stick with it! After all why do you think they call it gambling?
  5. Spa & Beauty services are expensive on board the ship as the costs of the service providers is much higher than those same businesses that are landbound. Expect a sales pitch during your message while you are feeling relaxed and more apt to let your spending guard down. Have your significant other give you a massage in your room or on the balcony and you can save some money and who knows what low cost pleasures it might lead to!
  6. Duty free purchases on the ship or on shore mean you donít pay sales taxes. If you are going to shop, check prices before you leave home and be educated if you are getting a bargain or not. We have often shopped a cruise for big dollar items but did not purchase them. When we got home, if we found the item was a real bargain and we still had to have it, we ordered it from the store on line or over the phone. Sometimes we found that it was not a bargain and we saved the buyerís remorse had we purchased it then. Also If you purchase alcohol on shore, if you have it delivered from the store, it will be delivered to your stateroom the evening before or the morning your leave the ship same as on board purchase sometimes are as itís consumption is suppose to be in the US. For shore purchases, hand carry on board the ship if your intention is to drink it in your room.
>> Cruise Specials Links | Main Page | Activities | Cruise Free | Deals | First Time | Special Needs | Theme Cruises <<

 


Cruise Main Links| About | Specials | Services | Planning | Contact | Home

©1999 Cruisin Easy • All Rights Reserved
Site Designed By New Image Technologies