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There are some preparatory steps before you book a cruise that can help you decide which cruise trip will be best for you. Travel agents and experts suggest that you start planning about six months prior to when you want to take a vacation. You might even want making preliminary plans to book a cruise a year in advance if you plan to head to some of the more popular and frequently visited locations in the world.
Before you book a cruise, you first want to look at the various available cruises. What calls to you? Are you interested in a cruise with stops to stay in various places? Do you have a specific destination in mind? Visit any local travel agent to get lots of information about the different kinds of cruises you can take. Also choose this time to determine the length of your cruise. Some are relatively short and can take place over a long weekend. Most cruises are about a week to two weeks long.
You also need to give some consideration to your destination’s weather patterns. You might not want to cruise to certain locations during rainy or hurricane seasons. If you’re set on a specific location, then decide when you’d most like to go.
You’ll also want to give consideration to budget. You may get some pricing information from travel brochures, but you won’t get all of it. Decide what you want to spend before you book a cruise so that you can find one that, when all costs add up, fits within your budget and gives you a little money for shopping, and trip expenses. Don’t forget to read all the fine print on those travel brochures to be certain that you calculate taxes, airfare to the starting point of the cruise, any tips you’ll be responsible for, and any transfer fees. Also plan to get your passport renewed if needed, and any immunizations at least three to six months prior to your trip.
Now you’re ready with your budget and destination in mind to book a cruise. There are a number of discount agencies, but you have to be wary of these. You may want to stick with a standard travel agency, and there are some reputable ones online too. Look for those that won’t stick you with fees for their service; most agencies already make a profit when you book with them. Also look for those that may offer insurance or money back guarantees. Pay attention to things like cancellation policies or nonrefundable deposits. If you’re a member of Costco® or AAA®, check for discounts that may be applicable when you have membership or book through either of these companies.
Before you actually book a cruise, consider visiting more than one agency to check pricing. You can also contact cruise lines directly to decide which company is best for you. You may find that price can differ, and of course, you want to look at the best offer or package deal you can find with a reputable agency. Some agencies offer incentives, like upgrading your room or giving you extra days in a hotel if you book with them.
Take home several offers and read them through carefully before deciding which offer to choose. Consider amenities, fees, special offers, and cancellation policies. When you’ve chosen the best offer for you, simply head back to the agency or cruise line that offered that deal and ask them to book your cruise. Bon voyage!