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Booking Your First Cruise This Year? Here are My Top 5 Things I Look for in a Cruise Itinerary

Tips for Rookie Cruisers

One of the travel wishes on our long long list that Neal and I have been talking about more and more is to do a cruise in right here in Europe.  The Baltic or Mediterranean looks mighty fine to us.  As I begin to look through different cruise ideas for this upcoming fall for Neal’s 4-0 birthday, it dawned on me how interesting cruise planning is for us.  You see, Neal has never been on a cruise while I used to work for the cruise industry for 2 years.  Having such different experiences, I thought it would be fun to share five tips for cruising rookies for when looking different cruising itineraries for the first time.  Are you ready? Here we go!

Sun vs City Cruise Ships

There are TONS of different options when it comes to cruising, to essentially any corner of the world.  To start, the first question I always ask is:  City or Sun?  City means a cruise through the Mediterranean or the Baltic, filled with fantastic cities and history.  Sun would refer to cruise to say the Canary Islands or the Caribbean where the white sand beaches are simply perfection.  Deciding on what type of cruise gets you started on the right track.   Once that decision is made, I then look at the itineraries with a fine magnifying glass. For us, we are thinking of a City cruise throughout the Mediterranean, with a balance of sea and port days.

Time in Port

I always check the amount of time the cruise ship is in port for.  Some ports of call are not full days leaving at 3 pm or arriving midday, which is important when planning days out in port.  On the other hand, sometimes cruise itineraries include an overnight in a port of call. {An overnight in Honolulu, Venice or Istanbul? Yes please!} Knowing the amount of time actually in port is key for planning days out and making the most of seeing the sights!

 Sea Days

For a 7 night cruise, it is fairly typical to have one or two sea days sprinkled in there. This is important to take note of, as Sea Days allows for rest and relaxing and enjoying the ships goodies.  Multiple ports in row sounds like a great idea, but if you  are hustling and bustling around city after city… it gets exhausting after awhile.  Sea Days allow you for just a little bit of a rest. Oh, they also let you to do some sightseeing and take funny snapshots like the one above from Alaska!

 Cruise Ship Tender Port

There are a few ports that are too small to dock directly at the port such as Santorini or Cabo San Lucas.  Tendering means that the ship is anchored in the bay or port, and to get from ship to shore passengers are ferried throughout the day. This is important to note as tender ports take a little bit longer to get off the ship and explore. To be honest, I’ll try to avoid them as much as possible.

 Cruise Ship Port

Remember, some cruise ships are BIG and MAMMOTH vessels and can’t just swing right into historical city centers or quaint beach towns. Sometimes it’s a bit of a walk to get to the heart of the city or the beach.  Or sometimes it’s even a train ride, as with the port of Civitavecchia which is the gateway to Rome.  {That was a surprise!  I wasn’t planning on taking a 1 1/2 hour train ride that morning!}  Keeping in mind where the port is located is important to make the most of your days out, and helping to plan logistics. Or if you are a planner {like myself} you could easily pre-arrange for a car to meet you in port, allowing for adventure seeking to happen with no fuss!

I will be using a few of these pointers when planning our potential cruise later this year. So my little honey bunnies, have you ever been on a cruise? Or are you a cruise rookie? Do these tips and tricks help to figure out how to scope out the most ideal cruise itinerary for you? If you are a first time cruiser this article has more great tips for booking too!

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