When it comes to planning a cruise vacation, the Caribbean is always the first destination travellers would want to visit. With clear, blue waters spanning from left to right and a perfect weather all-year round, the West Indies is the most popular cruise holiday for vacationers all over the world. In fact, an expected growth of $3.16 billion in cruise tourism expenditure is expected throughout Caribbean, Mexican, and Latin America from 2014 up to this year.
However, going on a cruise holiday for the first-time requires some preparation. Read on below to learn some of the most important tips for first-time Caribbean cruisers.
1. Choose the Right Cruise Line
Not all cruise ships are the same, and it’s important to know all about the cruise line and its special amenities before booking your first Caribbean vacation. The key to having a perfect cruise voyage is picking the right cruise line that suites your holiday mood and style (Do you want on board parties? Do you prefer relaxing getaway?). The last thing you want to happen is to jump on a cruise with people who have different tastes for entertainment, food, and more. Just consider it as if you are searching for the best travel buddies – you must find a ship that offers the kind of vacation you aim to have to make it memorable.
2. Find the Right Itinerary
Almost all cruises headed to Caribbean operate as fly-cruises (meaning that you fly to a destination then board the ship). Commonly, travelers will need to go to either Florida or one of the Caribbean islands as their departure point. There are some cruises that set sail directly from other US states, UK or Europe; however, it consumes time into your vacation. Some cruises last for just a couple days, one or even two weeks. Ships coming from Florida often leave at night, going to the Bahamas and back. They may also sail the Caribbean region, starting from Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Barbados. It might help to check out this list of the best Caribbean cruises you can consider for your holiday trip.
If you will be going on a fly-cruise, it’s ideal to stay in your departure location for your first night to prevent any travel delays and give yourself enough time to rest to fully enjoy the first night of fun on board.
3. Traveling With Pets
Some cruise ships do accept pets on board, and this is a good thing for pet lovers who do not want to leave their beloved furry friends back home. Each cruise line has specific rules for animals on board, such as pets should stay with their owners throughout the cruise, special lifejackets to be supplied by the ship, and passengers must ensure their dogs or cats are fully vaccinated with paperwork. Guides for travelling with pets mention that not all animals are comfortable going on trips, as some get motion sickness easily. It’s best to train pets first to travel to avoid stressing them out in unfamiliar settings and seek tips from vets on how to prepare your pets on this long journey.
4. Plan Your Land Itinerary Ahead
Each cruise trip comes with some time on dry land. Cruise companies offer excursions before and during the trip for each stopover. Do not waste this time staying on board, go out and explore. It’s best to read up on excursion options before you travel, making the selection process easier. You should also plan & book in advance your land excursions, because popular activities may sell out! To make the best decision, do an extensive online research by reading forums and review to get the best activities that are worth you time and money.
5. Pack Accordingly
Although some cruises can be long, it doesn’t give you the right to pack everything from home! It’s necessary to pack light and accordingly, especially since most cruise lines come with a dress code on board. Check with the cruise line before your trip for recommended clothing, as well as any requirements about dress codes and “formal nights.” Pack a right mix of formal, smart, and leisure attire. The great thing about a cruise is that you don’t have to change rooms. So it’s smart to unpack all your items on your first evening in your stateroom. That way you can feel comfortable moving around in your room (not wasting time just to search for an item).
Last, but not least, do not forget to bring all your travelling documents with you, especially your medicines (if any). Be sure to check out our comprehensive “international travel checklist” — which covers just about everything you should consider before your trip. Download a copy of this checklist to make your packing easier!