If you are still hesitating whether you need a cruise or not, go for it. Everyone needs a cruise at least once in their life. This is great for kids, for teens, for honeymooners, for seniors etc. It’s not boring and it’s not only for retired seniors as people usually say. These are stereotypes developed by pessimistic people, which you shouldn’t trust. Cruise ships offer all types of activities which don’t let you get bored. We didn’t get bored for a minute and always had something to do.
Here is what you need to know before booking your trip.
- Check out the season in cruising area. First you should decide what type of vacation you are looking for. Is it a relaxation in privacy? Or crazy dances and crowded parties? The new year eve is the most popular and crowded season for cruising. If you need relaxation take less popular seasons like after public holidays and school breaks. You should also check the school schedule of countries that you are going to cruise through. It’s a summer break from December to February in South America and South Korea. This time of the year there are lots of kids running around the ship and students party all night. We spent the New Year eve in Rio de Janeiro and the city was over crowded. There was estimated to be 3 ml tourists on 31st of December. Too much, eh? There were lots of people everywhere. If this is not what you want, then choose more quite time of the year.
2. Another thing is you can’t guess the weather. When we departed from Buenos Aires there was unbearable heat above 30 C degrees. The second day when we were sailing along the coast of Uruguay, it was cloudy, windy and rainy. The following three days were the same cloudy and rainy. We even went to the beach and swam in the ocean under the rain on the island Ilha Grande and on Ipanema beach of Rio. Bad weather can’t stop us and spoil our vacation, right? So, be ready for lots of weather changes and don’t expect only sunny and hot days on the ship. I was expecting to have only sunny days and was almost crying when it was raining :). Also, you should be careful with tropical areas, as there are rainy seasons starting from March till September.
3. The ship is too big to feel the motion. One of our concerns was feeling motion sickness if there would be wind or hurricane. Luckily, we didn’t feel a thing. There was one day when there were huge waves, however we felt just slight swaying of the ship. Nothing serious to have a seasick or to feel dizzy. However, you can have some pills to prevent seasick in case of having one.
4. Choose the cruise company carefully. Since you are going to spend so many days on the ship you don’t want to have a bad service or bad food. We chose Italian company Costa and never regretted. They had everything Italian on board which we loved, especially delicious food. There was 24 hours of fresh food and animation. The personnel were always friendly, smiling and helping out with all of our needs. Our cruise ship had 4000 traveler capacity. I think more than that would be too much for us. There were 3700 people on the ship and I felt like there’s less privacy when there are many people around. You can decide whether you want to go on a smaller ship or bigger one which is more crowded.
5. The pools on board are not big. Don’t expect to have large pools on board as there’s not that much space on the cruise liner. The pools are good for chilling out and splashing around. I loved the kids pool zone which had a small slide and fountains. It was also fenced to protect kids from wind. Our daughter loved splish-splashing in that area.
6. Pack some dress clothes for special events on board. They usually organize gala dinners and cocktails which has a dress code. You can also dress up to have your dinner at the restaurant. I took couple of dresses which I wear for a night out. You also better check out the dressing traditions or needs of the cruising countries. We found out that Brazilians wear all white at New Year eve and throw white flowers on the sea. White brings peace and luck in new year. Luckily, I packed white dress for me and my daughter and my hubby had white shirt which made us look ready for white party.
7. You will have extra expenses even if you have all-inclusive package. We had all-inclusive package and had to pay extra for beverages at the restaurants. We didn’t buy the beverages package as we are not fan of alcohol. Water and hot drinks like tea, coffee, cacao are free at the open buffet. However, if you dine at the restaurant you will be charged for beverages.
8. If you are a fitness junkie, you will love cruising. There are all you need to stay fit. Besides the gym and the basketball/football courts there are always free spinning, pilates, zumba activities with trainers. Though I forgot about my diet for two weeks, I didn’t gain weight. I was active participant of all sport and dance activities.
9. Cabins are not that small as we imagined them to be. Another thing that we were hesitating about was the ship cabins. We didn’t know how comfortable would be for three of us to fit in a small cabin. It even scared us a bit. But, it was over our expectations. The room was perfectly fitting one king size and one twin bed. There was enough space in the closets and we could move around without bumping into the furniture.
10. There’s no iron and you can’t use your hair drier in the cabin. Due to safety rules we were not allowed to use iron and hair drier. We could use only the hair drier connected to plug (we couldn’t disconnect it) inside of the cabinet. Though I took my flat iron and curler I couldn’t use them on board. Forget about styling your hair while cruising :). But if you are obsessed with styling your hair you can go to hairdresser on board. And you will have to use paid laundry services for ironing. So, iron your shirts and dresses before you pack them.
11. You don’t have to book excursions at the ship. Here’s a tricky moment if you want to save money. All of the cruise ships sell excursions for higher prices. You can pay less money if you book it with another local provider or if you just go out and grab a taxi. We booked a tour with local guide in Rio de Janeiro and walked around with guided map in Montevideo. I don’t think we missed something interesting :).
12. Don’t forget your emergency kit and medications. I took medications for all possible diseases and ointments in case of bites and bruises. It may sound paranoiac, but I prefer to have all at hand in case of emergency especially when we have a toddler.
I hope these tips would help you to have a wonderful cruise. Even if I missed something, don’t worry, you will manage it on the spot. It’s much better to see it once than to hear thousand times, says one of the sayings back home. Pack your suitcase and go ahead for cruising, I’m sure you will love it!