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How to Plan a Cruise Trip [2023]: Safety on the Seven Seas!

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How to Plan a Cruise Trip [2023]: Safety on the Seven Seas!
Set your plans into sail with this ultimate guide on cruise planning essentials. Never get lost as sea again with this jam-packed guide on choosing the right cruise line for your next dream destination!
Maheen Tanveer
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Maheen is a content marketer with a passion for fashion, travelling, arts, poetry and music. She's been in the content writing space for 3 years now and spent that time in various roles before co-founding a small writing agency on Upwork. She describes herself as a daydreamer who is trying to achieve big things in life!

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Figuring out how to plan a cruise trip can be a bit daunting at first, but don't let that discourage you from experiencing the seven seas.

For instance, you could use platforms like CruiseDirect that take care of many cruise booking needs for your. However, if you're looking to plan everything yourself, there's lots of ways to make it easier!

This short guide has everything you need to know about planning a cruise trip and will help keep you afloat in deep waters! We'll get to booking, but before that let's talk about some basic points to think about as you start planning your dream cruise holiday.

Set a Fixed Budget, and Stick to It!

Before you start any trip, you need to set a budget to avoid overspending. What's the point of the vacation if all you do is worry? To set a budget, here are some basic factors to consider:

  • The number of people you're making a booking for
  • The duration of the cruise
  • The destination/s 
  • Your itinerary 

You also need to consider some other factors as  the price displayed on the cruise website doesn't always include complete amenities such as: 

  • WiFi 
  • Drinks
  • Specialty dining options 
  • Shore excursions 
  • Cruise amenities - spa, gym, massage
  • Onboard activities
  • Port Taxes

A 7-day trip for 2 can cost anywhere from $700 to $4000, depending on the add-ons. Make sure you ask your cruise line precisely what they will and won't cover. Remember to keep some extra cash with you on hand, giving you some wiggle room if you plan to include a few additional activities during the cruise. It's a trip of a lifetime, after all!

Pro tip: Don't give yourself a heart attack by looking at each item's price. Try to book ahead for special occasions or as soon as bookings open. This way, you can stand a better chance of scoring discounted packages.

Pick Your Dream Destination

The next important step is deciding on your destination.

Do you want to discover the exotic islands of the Caribbean? Or get lost in the vibrant and colorful country of Cuba? Perhaps you'd like to immerse yourself in the beautiful Amazonian jungle or step out of your comfort zone and explore an entirely different culture? Why not consider the Nile river with Uniworld River Cruises? Pyramids, here we come!

Whatever you choose, here's what you need to consider for your next destination.

How Popular Is Your Destination?

Most cruise ships from all the major cruise lines sail across the popular Bahamas and the Caribbean, so you're bound to find good deals at these destinations. However, if you plan on going somewhere like Alaska, be prepared to spend considerably more. 

Cruise Ships In The Bahamas
Photo by Fernando Jorge on Unsplash

Is It a Seasonal Destination?

Many places are also seasonal, meaning that cruises don't run throughout the year at certain destinations. Be sure to do your research and plan accordingly.

When Are You Vacationing?

Prices are considerably higher during the summer and winter and around the holidays. If you can take leave between the high seasons, then you're sure to score a great deal!

Planning a Multi-Destination Trip With Flights

The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to choosing destinations. Your itinerary could include stops at more than one location. You could also board at one port and disembark at a completely different one at the end of the cruise. There are also round-trip cruises where boarding and disembarking all happen at once. Ultimately, your destination choice affects many cruise planning factors, such as:

  • What to pack for the trip 
  • Choosing cruise packages that include flights
  • Do you need to budget for port fees and visas?
  • Is your departure port close to home, or do you need to arrange flights and shuttles?

If you're still looking at flights for your cruise trip, have a look at these expert tips on how to find cheap flights. Save money on flights so you have more to spend on excursions and your bar tab!

Choosing the Right Cruise Line 

There are so many choices out there, and everyone claims to be "the best," so how do you choose? Every cruise line has its specialization and caters to a different clientele. Some focus on fine dining and stage entertainment, while others offer a variety of adventurous activities. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself while planning:

  • How long do you plan on vacationing? Cruises range from 3-day trips to extensive month-long extravaganzas across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
  • Do you prefer being out at sea most of your days, or would you want overnight stopovers? 
  • Are you looking for a round-trip cruise, or do you plan on spending time at your final destination?
  • Do you have specific food requirements or allergies for the menu?
  • Are you traveling with kids or seniors? 

All cruise plans will differ in price. You want a plan that promises a blend of everything you're looking for. As a general guideline, you want to choose a company that offers impeccable service, has good reviews, and gives you a good feeling right from the inquiry stage. 

Packing for a Cruise Trip

If you're like me, you're either always overpacking or under packing! How many outfits do I pack? One for each day? What if it rains? How many pairs of shoes? How many skincare products are too much?

Before you even think about packing, remember to check with your cruise line for their luggage limit. Most cruises have a limit of 45 kg. 

Essentials to Pack for a Cruise

Here's an idea of some of the bare essentials you should pack when planning a cruise trip:

When it comes to hair appliances like straighteners and curlers, ensure that your cabin's sockets can handle the voltage. Here's a more detailed cruise packing list that's worth a read!

What Not to Pack for a Cruise

We discussed what you should bring; here's what you shouldn't: 

  • Weapons
  • Flammable substances
  • Alcohol
  • Illegal drugs
  • Explosives 

Pointers to Keep in Mind

What Type of Cabin 

If you're picky about your room and amenities, it's better to choose and book your cabin in advance. Cruises have different types of cabins for different budgets, and you wouldn't want to miss out on a fancy port-side room with a balcony if that's up for grabs!

Motion Sickness

If you're worried about catching the seasick blues, try finding a midship cabin. The midship is where you'll feel the least movement out on the waters.

Beverage Packages

Choose your beverage package wisely. This could make a huge impact on your budget. Don't worry if you're a non-drinker; you'll still have a wide variety to choose from!

Shore Excursions

Try to book your shore excursions in advance! A lot of the excursions will have limited openings and may get booked up quickly.

Specialty Dining

If your cruise has specialty restaurants, you might want to go ahead and book at least one meal. We all deserve to splurge once in a while. 

Woman Eating a Meal on a Cruise
Photo by Nadin Sh On Pexels

Make Copies of Important Documents

Make copies of all your travel documents and keep a printed version of your booking. Sometimes, digital copies can backfire, especially if your phone's battery dies!

Plan Your Cruise Trip With Pilot

That's a wrap on how to plan a cruise trip! If you're wondering how to keep tabs on all your ideas, then Pilot is just the right travel planner to set your travel plans in motion! 

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Maheen Tanveer Blog
Written by:
Maheen Tanveer
Contributor
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Maheen is a content marketer with a passion for fashion, travelling, arts, poetry and music. She's been in the content writing space for 3 years now and spent that time in various roles before co-founding a small writing agency on Upwork. She describes herself as a daydreamer who is trying to achieve big things in life!

Read more about this author
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