Things You Need to Pay Attention to When Cruise Planning – Part 1
Written by: Kuki
Once you get onboard a ship for your cruise, you can almost turn off your mind if you want to, and enjoy things as they come. However, to get to that point, there are things you can, and probably should do as basic preparation for your cruise.
1. Be sure to see a travel agent and book the cruise you want. It’s going to be a very disappointing experience to begin your cruise, if you’re turned away at the pier because you don’t have a ticket for that ship.
2. When you book ,and then pay for your cruise, it’s very helpful if you know what ship you’re sailing, and which port the ship is sailing from. Knowing one, without the other can be problematic.
OK, OK, I really wouldn’t be very helpful if I continued to make fun of the totally clueless cruise shoppers. So here’s some tips that should be helpful.
- When you walk in to a travel agent, or contact them by telephone or e-mail, don’t begin by saying : “I want to go on a cruise.” Cruises are not all equal, even if they are going to the same places.
While I do think there was a time in the early part of this decade that many ships had more in common than differences, the past several years all the cruise lines have been initiating policies, and introducing amenities, to differentiate themselves from the competition. There are also now choices between cruises which require lots of formal clothing, and others where casual attire is the norm throughout.
It’s of utmost importance to find a travel agent who is trained and knowledgeable about the cruise industry. While any travel agent can book on your on a cruise, only those educated and current on the industry can give you the guidance you should have before you chose your cruise.
So, you tell your agent you’re interested in booking a cruise, but then clearly layout what type of cruise you’re looking for. Are you after non-stop activities, and entertainment? Are you more interested in quiet and relaxation? Do you interests lie in a cruise with many guest lecturers, or classes? Or perhaps some sort of theme cruise tied to your interests sounds appealing.
Talk to your cruise travel agent, and allow them to offer guidance through the multitude of choices.
- Once you’ve discussed all your options with your agent, and you’ve decided on a cruise, unless you’ve booked on very short notice, don’t pay for your cruise in advance. Only a deposit is necessary to hold your cabin, and guarantee your price, until your final payment is due, which is usually between 60-90 days prior to your sailing date (depending on the length of the voyage). There is rarely any advantage to paying in advance, and there are some possible problems that can arise if you do so unnecessarily; such as a cruise line bankruptcy; rare but it has happened.
When making your deposit, I implore you to do so using a credit card, NOT cash or check. And when using your credit card be certain the charges are made directly by the cruise line, not through your travel agency’s bank account. There is a real danger in allowing the charges to be processed through the agency accounts. Doing so allows the travel agency to float your money, and in the event the agency runs into financial difficulties, they may be using your money for their needs rather than making the timely transfer of your funds to the cruise line. It’s a rare occurrence, but a problem you have no need to leave yourself open to.
If there’s any doubt you should verify that the charge was made by the cruise line to your credit card by checking your account online.
- The last step, and definitely an imperative item in the booking process should be purchasing travel insurance. In most cases the health insurance you have at home will not offer you coverage when you are traveling. If you believe it does offer that form of coverage be sure to investigate that thoroughly before declining separate travel insurance.
Do not purchase your travel insurance directly from the cruise line. Third party insurance is available, generally offering more varied coverage at a lower cost.
Though no one enjoys reading the fine print, carefully read through the options available in different insurance policies. Conditions on coverage for pre-existing conditions, cancellations, medical evacuations, health care in foreign countries, travel expenses for family, etc. can all be critical to making certain you’re buying the right policy.
Saving a couple of hundred dollars on the total cost of your cruise by choosing to not buy travel insurance could leave you with unexpected costs so high you would never want to imagine.
Now, after consultation, you’ve booked the cruise that should be the best match for you, and you have the travel insurance to cover the emergencies that may arise. You’re all set… except for having to read every bit of information on CruiseMates before you cruise.
It may sound like work, but it can really be fun; learning all sorts of things about all sorts of ships, and probably finding many many things that make you laugh in the process.
Part 2 in next week’s Blog post.
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Posted: June 1st, 2010 under Kuki.