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Richard's Travel World Blog

Travel Advice on cruising, things you should know before choosing a cruise company.

My first recommendation if you have never cruised before is to contact a licensed travel agency or cruise specialty company. This will provide you with a couple of key elements in your travel planning that will help you select an appropriate cruise and prepare you for the things you need to do before cruising, while you are cruising and when you finish your cruise.

If you have cruised before, you know that booking with an experienced agent can help you find the best deals through the CRT booking systems available only to travel agencies. If you are new to cruising, this use of expertise from a travel agency can help you avoid some unknown pitfalls, and help insure that your first cruise will not be your last cruise. Booking direct is your other option and for the cruise component, this can also have some advantages you can take advantage of before you travel.

Remember that when you are cruising, there are several departure points in North America and the world, where the majority of cruise companies depart from. Getting to and from those ports, is a very important stage and should be planned with the help of a professional to avoid situations, which might ruin your vacation. Youi might even decide to plan a mini-vacation on the way to and from the departure port, by planning a driving tour to and from that port, which can make the holiday a new adventure, filled with other new and exciting places that you have never been to before in addition to those places you visit on the cruise itself.

Taking a cruise has its ups and downs, but luckily there are more up than down moments. How you select the cruise and cruise company to go on, is an important step in all of this, but if you do it correctly the first time, you will find cruising to be a great way to visit many places, only pack and unpack luggage once instead of every night like you would on other kinds of tours and it may become your "favourite way to vacation" in the future.

1. Picking a cruise line to jump on board with will be one of your biggest challenges. Remember when booking your first cruise and cruise line, pick a ship and destination that interests you or that you have "heard about" before. For North American "cruisers", the Caribbean is usually their first destination and there are many to choose from.

2. Picking a destination and length of cruise can be your next challenge. If you are unsure if you can "handle a sea journey", pick a company with larger ships that are stable in rough seas because of newer stabilizing technologies built into modern cruise ships. Pick destinations where you can get to the cruise departure ports easily by flying there or driving or in some cases by a combination of driving and train.

3. Depending on where you live, you will be choosing either east or west coast departure points, and most departure points are in the USA with the exception of Vancouver and Quebec City in Canada. Boston, New York, Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New Orleans and Quebec City are most commonly used on the west and south side of North America, while Vancouver, Seattle, Los Angeles are west coast departure points.

4. Cruise companies offer many different destinations in the world and the number of options is getting bigger by the month. New ships, new destinations, new offers and competitive rates as the number of ships increases. Select a cruise you can afford, at a time when you are able and departing from a port you can reach easily.

5. Certain times of year are better than others for price, or weather, or choices of destinations. There are certain destinations where the threat of serious weather issues make it less desirable for cruising and the pricing is appropriately lower. Select a cruise line that takes this into consideration to avoid situations where the "weather factor" has negative affect on your cruise. Most newer larger ships have incredible stabilizers for rough seas that do an amazing job of reducing the worry of sea-sickness or queasiness while onboard. Be sure to consider cruise destinations and dates, research weather in the areas cruises are being offered to find out when is prime temperature times, hurricane seasons, winter vs. summer conditions, etc.

6. Check Cruise Lines web-sites for "last minute specials" that are real deals. They might require you to jump on those deals quickly and then you need to get to that port of departure but often the savings are so "worth it" that getting there is something you WILL figure out how to do.

7. Check out cruise lines history, service records, Trip Advisor ratings and other sources for checking out the company's reliability. For example, a reputable cruise company has recently been hit with a $40 million dollar lawsuit for cheating on pollution controls and are now on a 5 year "watch list" by the US Department of Justice, to be sure that all parts of that company are monitored to be sure that they not only "fix the problem", but also improve and stick with the program that is required by law. Other companies have had higher than normal levels of cases of "onboard illnesses", injuries due to poor judgements on the companies' side for cruising in bad weather, etc. Check out this link for a recent event that might be used in your consideration of what cruise lines to choose.

8. Finally, like airlines and hotels, cruise lines have Rewards Points systems, all with different names but all being used to both reward you for your loyalty but also to encourage you to come back to their company because of benefits you will derive from accumulating "travel points or credits" that will make your future cruise with them both more economical, and more pleasurable. Loyalty "perks" are offered to you for future cruises that save you money but also provide upgrade possibilities for future cruises.

My next entry will talk about how to Prepare for and Enjoy your Cruise. If you find these postings of interest, let me know. I welcome your comments on the posts and if you have ideas for information on travel, I would be happy to respond to those requests where I am able.