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Are You a First-Time Cruiser? Make Sure You Know the Answers to These Cruise Questions

If you haven’t cruised before, you might feel a bit unsure on the logistics of how cruising works. Here are five questions a first-time cruiser must ask to ensure the cruise goes smoothly and is a fun, relaxing time.

First-Time Cruiser Question #1: How Are You Getting to Port?

This question is number one because if you don’t get to your cruise ship on time, it will sail away without you. Cruise ships have to stay on strict schedules so as much as they may want to, your ship crew can’t postpone the embarkation time because your flight was delayed or cancelled or your ran into traffic.

When it comes to getting to the embarkation port for your cruise, give yourself a big time buffer. You may be tempted to fly into town the morning of your cruise so you can save on a hotel room the night before, but think of the cost of the stress if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

Your best bet is to get to the port city the day before your cruise begins. Or better yet, do so with Celebrity Cruises' Flights by Celebrity, which lets you conveniently book your flight on whichever airline you want (and even use your airline points). Flights by Celebrity also has a team of dedicated specialists on hand 24/7 to help you in the event of a flight delay or cancellation so you can still get to your cruise ship on time.

West Coaster Tip: If flying from the west coast to Florida for a Caribbean cruise, you may decide to book a red eye flight, assuming that will give you enough of a buffer time frame. Before booking, check if there are later flight times with that airline that still get you to the ship on time in case your flight is cancelled.

First-Time Cruiser Question #2: What Documents Do You Need?

As a first-time cruiser, you might not be sure what documents to bring. When in doubt, check with the cruise line, but a good rule of thumb is to bring along two forms of ID, one of which is your passport.

If traveling internationally, check if you need a visa for any of the countries you’re visiting. This is your responsibility to take care of if you want to go out and explore during the day in that port of call.

Another document to print out before you leave for your cruise for hassle-free boarding are your luggage tags. Cruise lines provide this to you so you can immediately drop your luggage upon arriving to the embarkation port and begin the check-in process, which means faster access to the ship amenities and relaxing with a drink in your hand!

West Coaster Tip: Even if you’re cruising to Alaska from Seattle and aren’t planning on getting off the cruise ship in international ports, you’ll still need your passport since you’ll be sailing through international waters.

First-Time Cruiser Question #3: Should You Book a Shore Excursion?

Deciding what to do in port is a personal decision depending on your interests. A shore excursion is a great way to achieve the memories you’re hoping to make while there since it helps keep the day hassle-free, and you don’t have to worry about keeping an eye on the time to make sure you get back to your cruise ship on time.

You can book shore excursions on the cruise ship, but if you already know what you want to do in port, it’s smart to book it right away even if your cruise is still months away. The most popular shore excursions do fill up and you don’t want to be disappointed if the one you had your heart set on doing doesn’t have space available anymore by the time your cruise vacation begins.

West Coaster Tip: West coast residents often enjoy a wide range of activities from food tours to outdoor adventures, so book different types of shore excursions throughout your cruise for a fun and varied experience.

First-Time Cruiser Question #4: How Do You Pay For Things on Board?

If this is your first time cruising, you may think the payment setup on board is similar to a hotel – tell them your room number and sign a slip of paper, or opt to just pay with cash or your credit card. On a cruise, it’s even easier. Your room key is also your onboard payment card. You’ll use it to pay for drinks, spa treatments, specialty restaurants, casino credit…everything!

At the end of your cruise you’ll get an itemized list of everything you purchased and then the credit card you put on file with the cruise line when you checked in for your cruise will be charged that amount on the last day.

You’ll get your itemized receipt the last night of your cruise so if you have any questions about your bill or any items charged, you have time to speak with Guest Relations before your card is charged.

West Coaster Tip: If you’re a beach-going west coaster you probably have tricks for carrying cash and credit cards to the beach without having to lug around a purse or bag. Whether it’s a swimsuit with zip pockets, cardigan with hidden interior pocket, or arm band with a cell phone and credit card section, you’ll probably want to stick it in your suitcase so you can easily get around the cruise ship with your card always on you.

First-Time Cruiser Question #5: How Does Dining Work?

Every cruise line has a different set-up for how dining on board works. You’ll want to find out if it’s open seating, assigned seating with early and late dining times, strict dress codes, flexibility on where you dine, if reservations are needed for specialty restaurants, and what’s included or costs extra.

On Celebrity Cruises, the process has been modernized for optimal fun, luxury, and ease. You’ll be assigned a seating time and table in the Main Dining Room, but can switch to a different time if desired each day. You can also make reservations to dine in one of the numerous onboard specialty restaurants, or get room service and enjoy a night in dining on your veranda.

West Coaster Tip: The west coast is known for its awesome food scene, and if you’re a foodie be sure to reserve specialty restaurants before you leave for your cruise so the venues and dates you want don’t fill up.

You’re now ready for some fun on your cruise! If you haven’t booked your first cruise yet, what are you waiting for? Head over to Celebrity Cruises and start searching for your perfect cruise vacation.

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