Autumn is a great season for cruising. The summer crowds have left most of the popular tourist destinations and cruise ships are starting their bi-annual migration between their summer waters (such as Alaska and the Mediterranean) and their winters homes (such as the Caribbean, Hawaii and South America.) This is also the season that cruise lines begin their round-the-world journeys. Even if you don’t have an extra 60, 90 or 180 days to spend on a cruise ship, you can get a taste of a “Grand Voyage” by booking a segment of a world cruise and seeing ports like Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney while enjoying the amenities and leisurely pace of a luxury cruise liner.
Taking a repositioning cruise or a segment of a world cruise during the fall is a great way to see the world without all of that packing and unpacking and checking in and checking out of hotels. To get the most of your cruise experience, make sure to ship your luggage directly from your front door to your cruise stateroom, make shore excursion and alternate dining reservations in advance, get to the port city a day early and consider relaxing on the ship at least one day while the rest of the passengers are in port.
Ship your luggage to the cruise ahead of your arrival.
Imagine strolling on the plane to meet your cruise without being loaded down with luggage and carry-on bags. Think how enjoyable it would be to not have to worry about your luggage not arriving with you at the port of embarkation and having to make due with the same outfit until your bags catch up to you. It’s not impossible. You can travel unburdened and not have to worry about your bags arriving at the cruise by shipping them ahead of time. Luggage Forward offers door-to-stateroom service. No more lugging your bags through airports and cruise departure lounges. Your bags are sent directly to your stateroom and are both trackable and guaranteed. Another plus, while the rest of the passengers are hanging out in the lounge, waiting for their bags to be delivered to their staterooms, you’ll already have yours.
Arrive a day ahead of your cruise departure.
Another way to take some of the stress out of cruising is to arrive at your departure port at least a day in advance. This is particularly important if you’re traveling to a destination halfway around the world. Arriving well in advance of your cruise departure doesn’t only mean that you’ll be in town with plenty of time prior to your cruise departure, but it will allow you to explore the departure port city. Cruise itineraries tend to ignore the cities at the beginning and end of the cruise. Since you’ll be shipping your luggage directly to the cruise, you’ll want to pack a few things in a carry-on to use until you board the ship.
Book your shore excursions ahead of time.
Shore excursions allow you once-in-a-lifetime sights and experiences. Most areas directly surrounding where the ship docks are not all that interesting. You’ll want to get out and immerse yourself among the food, art and culture of the city. The best shore excursions book quickly, so it’s a good idea to make your reservations before you leave home, if possible. Most cruise lines allow passengers to make these reservations online. If you can’t book in advance, then you’ll want to take care of this as soon as you get on the ship to avoid being disappointed.
Consider staying on the ship during a port of call.
Most cruise passengers feel obligated to get off of the ship at all ports of call. After all, you want to get your money’s worth. However, staying onboard while the majority of the passengers are in port is a great way to enjoy all of the amenities of the ship without the crowds. This is especially true of larger ships, such as Royal Caribbean’s twin 6,296-passenger ships, “Oasis of the Seas” and “Allure of the Seas.” It’s no surprise that on port days, the pool areas and spa are much less crowded than on “at sea” days.
Choose the style of dining that best suits your personality and lifestyle.
Most cruise ships still have a central dining room with set meal times and set table assignments. (Norwegian Cruise Line is the exception to this rule.) This type of arrangement is great for those who like to meet new people and who generally dine at the same time every day, but can seem rigid to those travelers who like dining alone or with the people they met at the pool during the day. It can also be inconvenient to make the early dining hour if you’ve been in port sightseeing all day. While they often don’t promote them, most ships offer alternatives to the main dining room. These may be one or more small, specialty restaurants (usually available by reservation at a small fee) or a more casual buffet-style eatery.