Helpful tips for first time Cruisers around the world!

To help these new cruisers get their sea legs, Cruise Critic has created a list of the Top Ten Tips for Cruise Virgins:
1. Not all ships are created equal. Don’t choose your cruise based on destination, duration, and price alone. The cruise line you book with and the ship you sail on are very important. That’s because some cruise lines cater to families, while others market to seniors. As such, onboard facilities and activities vary, so do your research, ask questions, and find a cruise that’s right for you.

2. It’s okay to arrange your own shore excursions. There’s no stigma attached to going it alone or teaming up with other travelers to save money instead of paying for the shore excursions arranged by the cruise line. However, investigate your options before you cruise to ensure that you are spending your day in port with a reputable tour operator. And remember this crucial piece of advice: don’t be late getting back for the ship – it won’t wait for you.

3. Travel agents have access to perks and special offers you might not find elsewhere. A reputable cruise agent can be a great help to a rookie cruiser booking for the first time, and he or she may also have access to offers and incentives you might not find elsewhere. Do make sure you investigate your travel agency. Does the agency have “preferred” relationships with cruise lines (most do), and if so, which ones? What’s the schedule for paying for your cruise? Does your agent respond promptly to your questions – not just pre-booking but also once you’ve committed to a cruise?

4. Don’t be left for lost in port. Cruise lines rarely go beyond offering a list of shore excursions and a map of the local jewelry stores (with which they have special business agreements), so read up on the ports you will visit before you set sail.

5. It rains in the Caribbean… and other dreamy destinations. The tropical Caribbean climate (not to mention weather in the Canary Islands, Hawaii, and the South Pacific) can be unpredictable, so high on our list of must-pack items is a lightweight, waterproof jacket or poncho.

6. You can’t take your own booze onboard. Years ago, you could drag a crate of beer up the gangway without raising an eyelid, but cruise lines no longer allow this. Check out the alcohol policy for the cruise line you are traveling with before you go for full details of what beverages you are allowed to take with you.

7. Don’t tip double on beer – remember, there’s auto-gratuity. Check cruise-line tipping policies before you sail; most big-ship lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, and others – automatically tack on a 15 percent service charge to bar bills. Unless the service was spectacular, there’s no need to add another tip on top.

Read complete article at source: ETN