Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First-Time Cruisers Guide

Congratulations. You have just completed your first cruise reservation. But now what? Is there anything special you should do to prepare? How is cruising different than vacationing any other way?

It's best to think of a cruise ship as a floating hotel with many amenities, although not all of them are included in the ticket price. To get to this floating hotel, you may have to travel by air, car or both. So, suffice it to say, although you will wake up in a new place every morning, cruising is quite a different experience.

To make the most of your first cruise, here are some key things to remember.


Be sure to carry the following items with you to the check-in desk and then secure them in your room safe for the remainder of your trip.

- Passport (If leaving the country)
- Driver's License
- Military ID or DD-214 (For military discounts)


Packing for a cruise is not all that different than packing for any other vacation. However, some cruises have dress codes that might surprise you if you are a first-time cruiser.

Common Rules

Dining Rooms: No jeans allowed on some cruise lines
Formal Nights: Men - tuxedo or jacket/dress pants required, Ladies - formal dress
Pools: Proper swim attire

Formal nights vary from ship to ship. However the general rule is that if you are dining in the main dining room, formal attire is required. Check with your cruise line to see if a formal night is scheduled. If you don't wish to participate in formal night, the casual restauants and snack bars will still be open for dining and in-room options are available.

One of the greatest pleasures of cruising is walking around the deck and taking in the 360 degree ocean view. Be sure to pack non-slip shoes and a light wind-resistant jacket. Sunglasses and a pony-tail holder for long hair are also handy.


Cruising allows you to meet a lot of new people, exposes you to variety of foods and provides the experience of a lifetime. Enjoy it to its fullest by bringing along your own over the counter medications and first aid. This will save you a trip to the gift shop, should the expected happen.

Your kit should be able to fit into a small baggie. You may never need it. But if you do, you'll be happy you have the supplies.

Recommended List:
- Airborne
- Dramamine
- Ginger Pills
- Pepto Bismol
- Tums/Pepcid
- Anti-Diareahal
- Laxative
- Aspirin/Ibprophen
- Band-aids
- Neosporin
- Any prescription medications you are on


Airport transfers can be purchased from your cruise line. These shuttles will pick you up from the airport and take you to the cruise terminal and back. However, depending on cost you may also want to check the price with Super Shuttle.

Parking at the cruise terminal can range from $8-$20 a day depending on your point of departure.

Arrival Time

Plan to arrive at least four hours before your cruise is scheduled to depart. You will be able to check your luggage, leisurely check in and take your boarding photos without rushing. Arriving early is also the best way to increase your chances of getting an upgrade, should you want it.


Cruise ships are full of extras that are not included in your ticket price. Including room in your budget for on-board photos, soft drinks, alcohol, shopping and gambling is a good idea.

Possibly the least known and most surprising of extras to many first-time cruisers is the gratuity. Bring $10-$15 cash per person per day. Some cruise lines include gratuity in the final bill that is placed in your cabin on the last day of the cruise. However, some work on the envelope system, where you place the cash and envelope and leave it in your cabin. Check with your cruise line for the system they use for gratuities.

Most of all, enjoy your cruise. Nothing beats going to sleep and waking up in a different city or even a different country. Take lots of photos and be prepared to make your friends jealous.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mexico is on Sale!

Budget Beach Vacationing
By: Diane Hansen

The nation's swine flu panic is your dream vacation in waiting. Why? Because tourism is down in Mexico, cruise lines are drastically cutting their prices to get people on board.

Mexico is ON SALE! Everything from cruises, to flights to shore excursions are ridiciously cheap right now. So you can have a great vacation and spend up to 60% less than you normally would.

The... travel... deals... are... amazing.

Oh, sorry.... got hooked on the "language of the deal." But its hard not to these days when it comes to cruises, even more so when those cruises are to Mexico. Priceline has some great ones departing weekly and at prices that will make your friends jealous.

Just look at their Cruise Center and feast your eyes on Norwegian Cruise Lines latest deal, Oceanview cabin, 7 days to the Mexican Rivera. Destinations in this ditty of a deal include Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarto, plus three glorious sea days to enjoy the water slides, pool, clubs, restaurants, casinos and shopping on board. They are also offering ship board credits and Priceline is offering two days of hotel (up to $114 in value.

Gun shy about cruising to Mexico? Here are a few reasons why you shouldn't be.

1) H1N1 is less virulent than the standard "flu season" flu, meaning it comes on strong and you get over it fast. In addition, H1N1 has caused fewer deaths and has exhibited fewer serious cases than the standard "flu season" flu.

Just ask Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

2) Tourist areas of Mexico are not only sanitary, they are pristine and are very able to control their exposure to illness. Still, in daily life and whenever you are on vacation, you should always follow the basic rules of protecting yourself from illness. After all, head colds have a way of ruining a day of snorkeling.

3) Just take normal, every day precautions against getting sick and you will be fine.

According to the CDC, you should take these everyday steps to protect your health:

- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.*
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.

So that's where Travel Accomplice will kick off, in Mexico.

Our cruise leaves in 4 days, 18 hours and 51 minutes.

All Aboard!