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First Time Cruiser Mistakes

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You would be amazed by the crazy questions I get about cruising – from people who are already booked on a cruise!

I get a substantial amount of email from cruisers (and prospective cruisers) seeking answers to some mostly simple questions about cruising.

For some reason I also get a lot of requests for employment on “my ships”, but that’s another story.

Frankly, I don’t understand why people don’t simply post their questions on our public message boards, where they would get a wide audience, and most likely speedy and well informed answers from our community of cruisers; many of them very experienced cruisers, and many able to answer questions about specific ships and itineraries that I may have never sailed. My guess is that it is laziness. It seems that some people just want to write one person and get all of their answers in one simple reply.

Last week I got such an email, but more so than most, this particular email was almost scary, because of how totally uniformed about cruising these people were, and they were already booked to go on their very first cruise, for 14 days! But at least they knew the name of the ship they were sailing upon – which many people who email me do not know. They even knew its itinarary – but not a whole lot more.

There’s certainly no shame in a new cruiser not knowing much about cruising, nor is there any shame in asking questions. In fact I recommend it. But it should certainly be done BEFORE they book a first cruise. I’m bewildered by people who would hand over significant amounts of money to book a cruise without getting answers to the simplest of cruise questions first .

In this email they asked me if they would be allowed to wear shorts at any time on the ship; if formal wear is required at any time, or if it was optional;  if they would be allowed to dine in any restaurant on the ship; if they would be required to eat in the same restaurant at the same time every night; how the automatic tipping policy works, etc.

As first time cruisers, all of these questions are certainly reasonable questions to ask, and in fact should be asked! But, these are also questions that should be asked before booking and paying for a cruise!

This situation maskes me want to scream, ” Get a professionally trained Travel Agent; specifically a cruise specialist.”

Admittedly there are some first time cruisers who understand how to use the Internet to research cruising and their options. However, even the partially well-informed first time cruiser benefits from the guidance and expertise of a qualified agent. Had the people in the email I just referred to contacted a cruise specialist, the questions they asked would have been explained to them before they even asked.

A trained cruise specialist will qualify a first time cruiser to match them with the cruise line, ship and itinerary that will best suit them. Like buying clothing, the best result is delivered by finding the best fit.

People need to understand that in the vast majority of cases the services of a travel agent are free of charge to the purchaser, as they are paid by commission from the cruise lines, and the price of the cruise is no different than if you booked directly with a cruise line, on your own.  These days one can easily verify the price is the same by checking on the cruise line’s own web sites.

My recommendation to use a Travel Agent has one caveat. No one should assume any Travel Agent knows cruising. When it comes to cruising, not every Travel Agent is equal. Cruising is a specialty within the general industry of travel sellers, and in my view should be viewed as an essential difference when new cruisers are deciding which agent they want to work with.

You certainly don’t need to know everything there is to know about cruising before you go. After all, the adventure of discovery is an exciting part of any travel. However, it’s of utmost importance to understand at least the basics to smooth the process and enable you to take full advantage of, and allow you to fully enjoy the cruise experience you’re going to embark on.

And once you’ve found your cruise specialist, and have had the basics of your cruise explained to your satisfaction, check out our CruiseMates Message Boards to ask for the views and learn from the experiences of members of our knowledgeable cruise community .

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time August 24, 2011 at 4:09 am

Spot on. The only thing that I can add, get a brochure for the specific cruise line, that will help out for sure.

A cruise expert is golden, invaluable for first timers.

Comment from Samantha
Time August 29, 2011 at 6:01 am

Honestly I thought you were going to give answers to those questions in your article, that disappointed me that you didn’t. Secondly my fiance and I are looking to go on a cruise on our honeymoon and we are just barley able to pay for the cruise and have some spending money so how would you suggest paying for a travel agent too? Most people that cruise these days are average people that save up for a cruise they don’t have money to throw all over the place! I wish I did!

Comment from Kuki
Time August 29, 2011 at 7:43 am

You may want to reread the blog; as I stated, in the vast majority of cases the use of a travel agent costs you NOTHING. They are paid a commission by the cruise line for their work. And, in fact, if you book directly with a cruise line, they do not offer you a discount equal to that comission, so you may as well take advantage of the FREE services.

It definitely doesn’t add to the expense of your cruise.

Over the years, I and other CruiseMates writers have posted many articles to assist first time cruisers. Here’s a link to our first timer’s area . I think reading those articles should give you many of those answers as well.

Comment from urm
Time August 29, 2011 at 10:30 pm

You still haven’t answered any questions. What a waste of life reading this article.

Comment from You’re A Snob
Time August 29, 2011 at 10:32 pm

My first time cruiser mistake was to read this article!

Comment from Paul Motter
Time August 30, 2011 at 7:12 am

It’s pretty funny how people can cop such an attitude when all we are trying to do is give them real advice – the first one being “use a travel agent” – they DON’T COST ANYTHING. But apparently you think we are lying.

If we are snobs you are just plain stupid (I know that was mean, but it is a fitting reply). The whole point of the article is to show you how people need to do some homework first –

That is excellent advice on its own. But there are also dozens of other pieces of advice here if you care take 1 second out of your busyy life to look.

Otherwise you will probably have a less than satisfacyory cruise and no doubt be one of the people coming back here to complain about the things you didn’t do or see because you didn’t understand how things work.

The truth is that criusing is not “complicated” but it is complex. You need to take some time and learn about dining rooms, shore excursions, gratuities, room choices, kids programs, etc. In truth is it not as complex as it used to be – there are fewer pre-reserved dining room ships or ships with dress codes – but it still helps to understand these things – you’ll get by if you don’t, but you can just walk on aship these days knowing next to nothing and still have a decent cruise.

But certainly not with your attitude of “I’m not doing any homework, I expect you to tell me everything I need to know.”

We don’t know what you don’t now – and that was the point of the article – how amazed we are sometimes at thethings people still dont know when they already have cruise booked.

Comment from Paul Motter
Time August 30, 2011 at 10:35 am

I jjst wrote your “everything a first time cruiser needs to know article – check our front page or go here:

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time August 31, 2011 at 4:44 am

Paul – mean, shmeam – look at the dumbells that hate our president just because of his skin color, and the e-holes that love the tea party, and those of idiots that are mouths of the GOP – so, I think that personna was shown very obviosly in that one comment by one ignorant person, one amoung millions I dare say.

You can not help or assist a jerk – we all run into them on our cruises, and the poor crew gets its vertbally – I have witnessed passengers – always male – yelling, using the F and N words to the face of a crew mwmber at Lido buffets, not right, just not.

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