It was 25 years ago that my husband and I took our first cruise for our honeymoon. Fast forward to February 2013 where we celebrated our 25th anniversary on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas that left Sydney, Australia for 11 nights. It was one of the best vacations I have had in years.
The only part of our vacation I found to be labor intensive was the pre-cruise planning of all the “extras” you might want to consider when embarking on a cruise.
It took time to review all the options the cruise line offered and decide which ones we wanted. Because this can take a couple of days to do, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to book these optional items; things can sell out. Of course, you can certainly wait and see what’s offered once you set sail. But for us, we found it beneficial to know what our cost would be months prior to departing and in some cases, we had certain portions of our trip pre-paid before boarding the ship.
If pre-planning sounds right for you, I suggest reviewing all the items your ship/cruise offers and then take time to research each, one at a time. Read reviews and decide what’s most important for you to experience while on your cruise. Here are a five items to consider:
- Dining – Cruises offer a great way to try different types of specialty foods or to have a grand dinner selected by the Chef and paired with wine. We enjoyed all the food we had on our ship and our dining experiences enhanced our vacation even more.
- Drinks – Cruise lines offer several packages for soda, water, wine and other alcohols. I could have done a better job in pre-planning this area. I only chose a soda package, but I should have purchased a wine package as well. We also pre-purchased water that was delivered to our cabin upon our arrival. This encouraged me to drink more water, knowing it was already paid for and I didn’t want to leave any behind.
- Excursions – If you decide to go with an outside vendor for excursions, be sure to double check their policy for situations where the ship arrives into port later than the scheduled pick-up time. Additionally, on some excursions you might not want to have the full experience, but just come along to watch. Ask ahead of time if this is allowed and if so, will you be required to pay the same as someone having the full experience?
- Other On-board Cruise Options – These items vary by ship–just be aware that with on-ship items such as pictures or spa treatments, there might be specials offered on different days while cruising that could be a better buy than pre-purchasing.
- Transfers To and From the Ship – Line up your transfers beforehand. If you don’t make arrangements for this, be prepared for long wait times for taxis. Also, because you don’t know what the weather will be like or if there will be delayed traffic, this is an especially important consideration for those who need to get to and from the airport in a shorter time frame.
In my opinion, the more pre-planning you do, the less stress you’ll experience on vacation. I’m already looking forward to our next trip where I’ll do even more pre-planning than this last cruise.
And if you’re interested in booking a cruise, I would encourage you to contact an Andavo Travel advisor. They are experienced, helpful, and professional, and can guide you through the maze of “additional cruise fees” with ease.