Booking Your Cruise
Once you've decided on your preferences, it's time to book your cruise! Here are some tips from readers and experts on how to get the most out of your next cruise vacation.
Use Travel Agent or DIY?
Booking a cruise involves multiple legs and options. If you don't feel comfortable handling all the details, you may want to use a travel agent.
Figure out your budget, must-haves and preferred options, then share them with the travel agent who can help you decide which cruise line or package best fits your needs.
Consider All the Aspects When Booking
WHN Reader Tip: Early Bird Gets the Worm
"Book cruises very early or very late. Early bookers get the standard prices but have the best choices for rooms. The late or last-minute bookers get some amazing prices that are sometimes half the cost." Diana, Fremont, CA, who recently returned from Antarctica
What all is included in the cruise cost—transport to and from the port-of-call, off-ship excursions, onboard activities, gratuities? What is extra?
WHN Expert Tip: Repositioning Cruises
"Book a 'repositioning' cruise, which may be cheaper. This happens when a ship changes from its regular area. So, for instance, a ship that normally cruises in the Mediterranean in the summer needs to move to the Caribbean for the winter. The trip they take to get there stops at interesting places, not usually visited by cruise ships on a weekly basis" Jacqueline Church Simonds, frequent cruiser and publisher of Happy Sails: The Carefree Cruiser's Handbook.
How will you get to the port-of-call (air, car, train)?
How will you get from the airport to the port—taxi or cruise line shuttle?
What are the cabin options?
WHN Tip: If you're worried about seasickness, stay towards the middle of the ship and on lower levels.
Can arrangements be made to accommodate any special needs – disabilities, illnesses, dietary needs and so on?
Will you need a hotel room in the port of call either before or after the cruise?
Where does the shop put into port and what are the shore excursion options?
WHN Reader Tip: Save $$$ on Excursions
"Research shore excursions that are not affiliated with the cruise line. You'll save a lot of money and still have fun in port. Just make sure you do your homework and choose a reputable tour operator." Melissa, NY, NY
What is the fee for making changes to the reservation?
WHN Tip: If changes are needed to any part of your reservation (air, car, cruise, hotel, etc.) contact your travel agent or the companies ASAP. You might be charged an additional fee for the changes. If you have travel insurance [WHN page link TK], find out if it covers the cost.
Read our Helpful Tips for Hotel Stays for a general hotel guide.
Book Shore Excursions and Onboard Activities
WHN Reader Tip: Plan Ahead for Your On-Shore Excursions
"Visit the cruise company's website ahead of time to read about and reserve shore excursions. First-time cruisers usually don't know this and by the time they get on board and settled in and find out about excursions/shore trips and decide which to take, a lot of the popular ones are already filled." Diana, Fremont, CA
Consider Travel Insurance
When you book the trip, you may be if you would prefer to purchase travel insurance at that time.
Read our Travel Insurance What You Need to Know to learn more about standard travel insurance policy coverage and options.
CruisesBooking Your Cruise