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Going on a cruise vacation can be a thrilling experience, especially for first-timers. Being out on the open sea, the different sights and sounds at each new port of call, the exciting onshore excursions, and the culinary delights both onboard and onshore would delight even the most veteran of travelers. Just like with any other vacation, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do on your cruise. Continue reading to find out some of the things you should avoid while cruising. Follow these tips to make your cruise vacation an experience you won’t soon forget.

First, don’t pick the wrong cruise. As obvious as this may seem, different cruise lines and cruises each have their own “personality” and atmosphere. One cruise may be for those cruisers who want to cut loose and party, while another might be for those would prefer to relax and lounge around the ship. The setting matters as well. An Alaska cruise will vary greatly from a Bermuda cruise, for instance. There are other cruises that cater specifically to families or people with small children. Still, others are geared toward retirees. Of course, there are plenty of cruise lines and cruises out there that offer something for everyone, no matter what type of vacation you’re looking for. Get to know each cruise line and their culture and what they offer before booking a trip, to make sure it best suits your needs. Also, pay attention to the ship’s itinerary so you know where the ship is going to stop. If the destinations don’t appeal to you, you might not want to book that particular cruise. Make sure the ports of call are in those places you desire to visit.

Another important thing you do not want to do on your cruise is to neglect the crew. The onboard crew works tirelessly to make sure your cruise experience is everything you hoped it would be and more. They are often working behind the scenes, are usually unfailingly polite, and will honor whatever requests you might have (within reason, of course). A simple smile and “hello” or “good morning” to a crew member takes nothing from you and goes a long way in showing your appreciation for the hard work they do to make your vacation enjoyable. If you want to go even further, you can always tip members of the crew. Some passengers even take small treats, like candy, to give to crew members to show their appreciation. Remember, the crew is what makes the ship run, so treat them accordingly.

Onboard entertainment has become somewhat of a hallmark for the cruise industry. Many ships now include state-of-the-art, full-sized theatres onboard, making you feel as if you could be at the opera in Milan or watching a show on Broadway in New York City. The entertainment is wide-ranging as well, with mainstage comedy shows, concerts and Broadway-style performances by world-class entertainers. Often, cruises will encourage passengers to make reservations for shows ahead of time, requiring guests to wait in long lines. Although the shows are very popular and can get filled quickly, cruise lines encourage spontaneity as well, with a stand-by line usually forming about 30 minutes before the show is set to begin. These lines are almost a guarantee to get into a show, as a large portion of passengers who reserved seats will not show up. So, if you’re unable or unwilling to book a show in advance, don’t fret. Grab a cocktail and get in line. You’re sure to see a great show.

Don’t take the elevators onboard, if you can avoid them. Waiting for the elevators will waste precious time, and there are people on the ship who actually need them. Besides, taking the stairs is a great way to burn all those calories you’ve been consuming.

A major part of the cruise experience is the onshore excursions that are available at each port of call. These excursions can range from shopping in a local market to hiking to a waterfall through rugged, mountainous terrain. No matter your speed, there is an excursion out there for you. Excursions are also a great way to get a feel for your destination. Excursions can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days, so it is important to pick the one that’s right for you and your travel plan. Just as with on the ship, however, there are certain things you want to avoid with your onshore excursion. For instance, you do not want to dress inappropriately for your planned excursion.

What you should wear will not only depend on the type of excursion you are doing, but the weather at your destination as well. Wear sneakers instead of sandals or flip-flops if your excursion requires walking or navigating unwieldy terrain. Bring something to cover your knees and shoulders if you are visiting a religious site. Also, be sure to remove any jewelry or valuable personal items before embarking on your excursion, as these items can often become damaged or misplaced. Don’t forget your essentials. Make you sure you have everything you will need for your excursion, such as sunscreen, sunglasses, medications and water. Don’t bring your passport unless required by your trip. Don’t forget the camera!

Lastly, don’t show up late or lose track of time. You paid for this tour, and you want to get the most out of the experience. Show up early to maximize your time, and be mindful of how long you have to complete your activity. It is rude to make your fellow passengers wait for you, and it’s unfair to your guide, whose job it is to make sure everyone gets back to the ship safely and on time. Missing your ship is the worst-case scenario, but you also don’t want to be the last one onboard. Be mindful of which time zone the port is in. Often the ship’s time will differ from the port’s if it is in a different time zone.

Your cruise vacation should be a special and memorable one. Remember these do not’s and follow these tips, and it surely will be.

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