First-time cruisers aren’t the only ones who find out something — the hard way — that they wish they’d known before reserving the trip. Check out these seven mistakes to avoid when booking your cruise.
1. Picking the wrong cabin. Check the ship layout to ensure you aren’t right above, below, or next to a busy area. You don’t want to hear pots and pans banging in the kitchen, loud music from the disco, or chairs scraping the pool deck in the wee hours. And if you’re prone to seasickness, you’ll do better if you book a cabin in the middle of the ship on a lower deck.
2. Ignoring the calendar. It’s not necessarily a mistake to sail in hurricane season (June through November), but you’re more likely to have your itinerary altered and should consider travel insurance. Also, if you sail during spring break, the ship will packed with partyers and families with kids — a bonus or an annoyance, depending on your preferences.
3. Not monitoring prices. Consider a travel agent who specializes in cruises. They can ensure you don’t miss promotions, such as onboard credit and drinks packages, and sales, which often run during “wave season” (January to March) or on holidays.
4. Budgeting inaccurately. Unless you’re cruising on a top-tier luxury line, expect to pay for drinks, gratuities, shore excursions, and specialty dining.
5. Not asking about dry dock schedules. If you sail right before the ship is due to go to dry dock, contractors may be at work and some public areas might be shut down.
6. Flying in on embarkation day. If you board in a cool destination, like New York City, Rome, or Miami, set aside time to explore. You also want to ensure flight delays don’t cause you to miss your ship.
7. Choosing the wrong ship. Whether you want a top-notch youth program for your kiddos or a quiet atmosphere, do your research to make sure you’re getting a ship with the vibe and activities that are right for you.