Island Cruise Vacation

Setting Sail – Tips and Tricks for Planning the Perfect Island Cruise Vacation

One of the best ways to ensure a stress-free cruise is to arrive at your departure port at least a day early. This will provide a buffer in the event of travel delays and lets you experience your ship’s ports of call more leisurely.

Consider buying cruise travel insurance to protect against unexpected circumstances that may force you to cancel your trip, such as illness or family emergencies.

Know Your Ship’s Schedule

Planning is the best way to maximize your time on a perfect day. If you have a scheduled excursion during your visit, you’ll be given a specific time to meet on the pier to leave. This is so the ship from the George Town cruise port can finish cleaning and preparing for the next group of passengers.

From their lanais, guests in staterooms can enjoy the mesmerizing glow of sea cliffs. Sunbathe on golden sands, tour natural grottoes or UNESCO World Heritage sites, and spot monk seals in their natural habitat.

Know Your Ports of Call

There are many ways to enjoy an island cruise; deciding what activities are right for you depends on your priorities. Popular options include shopping, beach breaks, resort or city tours, and photo tours.

If you want to splurge on one activity, renting a cabana is an excellent choice. They offer privacy, shade, and fantastic server service throughout the day. They are not cheap, however, so you will want to plan carefully and be sure you can use your time wisely.

You do not need your passport on most cruises, but you should bring a form of identification, cash (for tips and purchases at the market), and a beach bag to hold all your items while walking from ship to shore or in and out of buses or shuttle boats. You may also want a sunhat, rashguard, and sunglasses handy.

Know Your Dining Options

Thankfully, you can expect most of the food on your cruise to be included in your ticket price. This includes meals at the main dining room or rooms and large banquet-style spaces that serve sit-down dinners off a wide-ranging menu.

Some cruise lines have done away with assigned seating in favor of flexible or “anytime” dining, where you can go to the Main Dining Room during open hours and choose your table. Regardless of your choice, set your dining time as soon as you board the ship so crew members can assign you a table and note any special requests.

Many ships also offer a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Check with your cruise line for specific hours and locations for these eateries. 

Know Your Excursions

Whether you’re looking to relax on a beach, take in an island sunset, or have some adrenaline-pumping outdoor thrills, your dream vacation has plenty of options. Shore excursions are the perfect way to bring your itinerary to life and add a whole new dimension to your cruise.

Excursions are available from the ship’s concierge and through independent tour providers. Cruise line-arranged tours typically offer a variety of activities and tend to have a broad appeal. In contrast, independent tours can be much more tailored to your interests and may be cheaper than the ship’s offerings.

The primary benefit of booking through the cruise line is that they guarantee your return to the ship. If you’re on an independent excursion that’s scheduled to end 30 minutes before sail-away and get stuck in traffic, the cruise line will wait until you return. This can save you a lot of stress, frustration, and money.

Know Your Luggage

Most cruise lines offer an option to check your luggage during the embarkation day. This saves you from lugging your luggage around until your room is ready. Nevertheless, bringing a carry-on packed with your important things and anything you might need on the first day is best. This includes documents, passports, travel insurance, allowed medications, and a swimsuit.

If you decide to check your bags, the cruise line will provide you with color-coded and numbered luggage tags that you can affix before departure. These are included in your e-ticket. Then, sometime on the first day of your cruise (usually before dinner), your baggage will be delivered directly to your stateroom. Be sure to bring closed-toe shoes for any excursions on the island and a towel for the beach. You can always purchase more from the ship if needed.

Know Your Ship’s Time

Cruise lines often assign a boarding window for passengers. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many allowed passengers to show up whenever was convenient within a half-day window. However, since the pandemic, ships have required that passengers arrive by a certain time to stagger crowds and wait times.

This can be frustrating for some travelers, especially if they must book a pre-cruise hotel to meet the boarding deadline. However, if you have the flexibility to fly in on the day of your cruise and can manage to get there with enough wiggle room, this is a great way to save money and avoid extra hotel charges.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect cruise vacation or want to dip your toe into cruising, these tips from cruise experts can help make your getaway a breeze. Just remember to stay safe and have fun!

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