Once you decide that you'd like to cruise, there are a number of other things to consider to enhance your cruise as well as make it go smoothly.
Naturally you need to sort out things like when and where you want to cruise as well as with which cruiseline, which ship and what things you want to do off the ship. Do you want to cruise to Alaska and watch whales or stay warm and cruise the Caribbean? Would you rather sail on a massive ocean liner or does a smaller, more elegant vessel interest you? Are you ready to leave tomorrow or would you rather wait and search out the deals? When the ship docks in the various ports of call, will you remain on the ship, head out shopping or go on a fun filled, exciting shore excursion?
There are a few ways you can collect this information and doing the leg work up front will save you time, money and aggravation down the road I promise you that. Saving the legwork and getting right down to the good stuff is what most people are after. I have written three books on cruising and have compiled all of the slick tricks that I've learned into the books for you to have all the info you need together in one spot. Follow the link in my resource box and have a look.
You should also search out, join and familiarize yourself with the Cruise message boards. On these boards, members will post their reviews of everything from flights to ships to shore excursions and more in great detail. Do take these reviews with a grain of salt though. Some of the people seem like they couldn't have fun anywhere!
This is an excellent way to find out about the various shore excursions. Members will report back on what tours they did, what operators they liked or disliked, any problems they had and more.
In many cases, someone on a forum will start a post called a "roll call". This is a gathering place for passengers of a specific sailing date for a specific ship and I highly recommend you search them out. If you cannot find a roll call for your cruise...create one! How you say? It's very easy...
Let's say you are cruising on the Carnival Legend from February 17th to February 24th. You would simply search for or create a post called "Carnival Legend - Feb. 17th to Feb. 24th" People will find it, trust me! Once a few of your cruisemates find your post, you will be able to swap plans and stories, maybe learn a tips or two and maybe even make some friends. My wife and I always make a point to meet up somewhere on the ship with our roll call friends and we've remained friends with some of them to this day.
Let's not forget your friendly local travel agent. Sure you can research and book your flights and cruises all by yourself online, but if you find it overwhelming, don't be afraid to let the professionals take care of you. Sometimes paying a few extra dollars is worth it to know that someone else has taken care of the details. My guides and the forum participation will still insure that you are able to make informed decisions.
Before you go
I'm generally not a paranoid person, but would like to share a few security tips that could help keep things secure while you're on your vacation. Before you leave for your cruise, it might be a good idea to call the post office and have them stop delivery of your mail. If you haven't arranged for someone to come and get your mail while they feed your pets, you might want to look into that. A large pile of mail sticking out of your mailbox is telling sign for thieves to come and rip you off.
Your home phone should either have the ringer turned off or have you answering machine set to pick up on two rings. This could reduce the risk of someone figuring out that you're not home.
If you happen to live in a snowy part of the world, your driveway might get snowy while you're gone and if you haven't got any tire tracks in your driveway, this could be all the indication thieves need to know it's safe to enter your home.
Rather than rely on mail stoppages, answering machines and light timers, I prefer to keep things looking natural while away. I always have a friend come over to get the mail and feed the cat as a minimum. If they are a really good friend, they'll shovel the driveway and walk, but people don't like to do their own shoveling let alone yours, so why not have it done? One way is to pay the neighbour kid a flat rate to keep it shoveled while you're gone. Letting his/her parents know when you'll be leaving and returning as well as what you've asked to have done is probably not a bad idea.
If you know someone with a plow or have a local plow service, you can ask them to come scrape your driveway after each snow. I guess if you're really cheap, you could just have the friend drive on your driveway when they come to get the mail.
At any rate, chances are that someone isn't lying in the bushes waiting for you to go on vacation so you'll have to gauge the risk and do what gives you piece of mind.
Next time I'll cover packing and preparing for your cruise. If you want to cut to the chase and get right into the info, stop by http://www.cruisevacationparadise.com and pick up one or all of my cruise ship tips books. They contain a vast amount of information that will allow you to select and prepare for the cruise vacation of a life time!
Until next time, be well and happy cruising!
Paradise is just a sail away!
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