7 Vital Mistakes to Avoid When Cruising

Want to go on a cruise, but afraid you won’t enjoy it? Improve your chances of having a great cruise! 7 of the top mistakes to avoid when cruising are covered in this post.

Read below or listen to the episode here.

My friends Rob & Kerri Stuart recently published a podcast on mistakes to avoid when cruising. They know cruising better than perhaps anyone. Rob & Kerri literally wrote the book on cruising! (And I don’t use the word literally willy-nilly).

  1. Not Using A Travel Agent.
  2. Not factoring in the total cost of the cruise.
  3. Not getting travel insurance.
  4. Not planning shore excursions in advance.
  5. Picking thewrong cabin.
  6. Choosing the wrong ship or cruise line for you.
  7. Booking last-minute or not far enough out.

Plus, a bonus tip at the end.

Not Using a Travel Agent

This is mistake number 1. If you don’t make this mistake–if you use a travel agent, the other six mistakes are pretty much moot points. A quality travel advisor will help you make sure you don’t make the other six mistakes.

You’re free to live your life and let your travel advisor take care of the details of your trip.

Can you imagine paying nothing extra for your cruise and someone else waiting on hold to call the cruise company for you?

Using a Travel Agent Costs You Nothing

Travel advisors don’t charge you a fee. The cruise line pays the travel advisor to help ensure you maximize your experience on your cruise.

You DON’T Get a Better Rate Booking Yourself

You’ll see the same prices either way. For the same trip, you won’t get a cheaper price for your vacation, but they’ll help ensure you go at the best time and can take advantage of the best vacation for you.

Not Factoring In the Total Cost of the Cruise

The 2nd of the mistakes to avoid when cruising involves understanding what is included in the fare. This is when you see the cost of the cruise in an ad for the cruise line. It looks like a great price, but you have to be aware of what you get with that price.

That rate will likely include an interior cabin on a lower deck and probably bunk beds. Paying extra for a cabin with a balcony will greatly enrich the quality of your trip experience.

Instead of squeezing out the least amount you can for a vacation experience to spend as little as possible, make the best investment into getting the most out of the month you spend.

Consider the Cost of Getting Off the Ship

The cost you see advertised will be completely different than the bill you receive when you get off the ship. Unless you’re enjoying a truly all-inclusive cruise, you’ll likely have other expenses during your vacation.

  • Adult beverages
  • Shore excursions
  • Specialty dining
  • Souvenirs
  • Wi-Fi connection

Many cruises with more expensive fares end up costing you less than cheaper cruises because the luxury cruise lines include more items in that fare.  Knowing about these opportunities can greatly enhance your vacation experience and ultimately cost you less money out of pocket.

Not Getting Travel Insurance

Failing to get trip insurance isn’t just one of the mistakes to avoid when cruising, it’s a mistake to avoid for ALL travel.

You never know what’s going to happen. Anything can happen:

  • Weather
  • Medical emergencies
  • Accidents
  • Missing transportation
  • Airlines losing luggage

Buy trip insurance and enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that the unknown incidents will be covered. Furthermore, relish knowing that you’ll know exactly who to contact if you find yourself in an unexpected, unpleasant situation.

Not Planning Shore Excursions in Advance

You don’t have to plan your entire vacation. I recommend planning a few big, important experiences you want and enjoy relaxing, improvising, and being fully present for the rest of your vacation.

For those primary experiences you want, though, book those in advance. Don’t leave it to chance. Excursions will sell out! Get them booked early to ensure they don’t fill up and make sure to maximize your vacation experience.

This will save you time on your cruise. If you book the excursions on your cruise, you’ll likely have to stand in line behind the others who didn’t plan ahead and spend your vacation waiting on them to ask questions and ponder what they want to do.

This also gives you chance to have a good plan for your port days. You can enjoy a fulfilling experience and make great memories instead of getting stuck in a crowded, touristy area.

Picking the Wrong Cabin

This is one of the most common mistakes to avoid when cruising. You just want to be on the ship, right? So you spend the least amount of money you can on the cheapest cabin you can find.

We hear this all the time: “I’m only going to be sleeping in my cabin. I don’t need an ocean view.”

Do you really think that you’re only going to sleep in your cabin? You may need a nap or some chill time. You will spend more time in your cabin than you think.

If you want to see a gorgeous site early in the morning. Do you want to have to get up extra early, navigate to the deck where you can see what you want to see, and try to enjoy it with the rest of the passengers with interior cabins?

Rolling out of bed and onto your balcony with a cup of your favorite beverage to enjoy the view will be a much better experience and magical memory you’ll always treasure.

Newer ships are building few interior cabins for good reasons.

Choosing the Wrong Ship or Cruise Line for You

This is where a travel advisor can really help you enhance the quality of your vacation experience. I have a friend who is a very calm, artsy, contemplative person. His family wanted to try a cruise and they went on a cruise line with more of a younger, partying crowd.

I think those cruises are fun, but that was not the experience he wanted. My friend and his family wasted their time and money on a trip they didn’t enjoy.

A few cruise lines advertise a lot. Their names are household names. It is entirely possible that you’ve never heard of the cruise line that would give you the best experience.

There are a wide variety of cruise experiences:

  • cruise themes
  • ship sizes
  • port sizes
  • demographics
  • experience types

Don’t simply settle for the names you hear frequently over the experience that will best match your vacation preferences.

Booking Last-Minute or Not Far Enough Out

There are a couple of misconceptions about so-called close-out deals.

Myth: If a Cruise Isn’t Full, the Cruise Line Will Have a Big Sale to Fill the Ship

This is not true. If a ship is undersold, the cruise line will reach out to travel agents first. They’ll give those lower prices to travel agents rather than consumers.

They’ll give the cheaper fares to travel agents so that the travel agents can use that experience to help sell for that cruise line. There is no investment in selling those discounted fares to the consumer for a couple of reasons.

You’re getting what is left. The better cabins, dining reservations, and excursions are already sold out to the passengers who booked earlier. Yes, your fare would be less expensive, but your experience would less quality.

You’d spend more time bragging about the cheap fare than your fantastic experience. If you spend the market rate for our experience you’re more likely to be a spokesperson for the experience and memories, not the money you didn’t spend.

Giving the lower price to the travel agents will more likely result in more cruise sales.

Supply and Demand, But Mostly Supply

Secondly, as the cabins and excursions book up, the diminishing supply increases the demand and thus, increases the price. Book early for the lowest fare and the best selection of experiences.

  1. Book early
  2. Get the cabins and excursions you want
  3. Stay familiar with the cancelation policies

Bonus Mistake to Avoid

Not Coming In a Day Early for Your Cruise

Don’t risk missing your ship. Maritime laws require that the ships leave on time. They can not wait for late passengers for any reason.

Be close to the port the day your ship departs. If you’re flying last minute and your flight is delayed, even if you make it on time and not miss your cruise, the stress is just not worth it.

Fly in a day earlier and enjoy the morning before your cruise.

If you can, fly out a day later after your cruise. Then you can enjoy the last day as well. You can relax and watch all the people not staying an extra day while they stress and rush to not miss their flights.

Related Resources

Check out Rob & Kerri Stuart and Travel Talk Weekly

Check out Just Add Water, Rob & Kerri’s book on cruising.

“Two travel agents passionate about cruising share their experience, advice and tips on how to cruise like a pro, see the world and save money in the process. Whether you’ve never cruised before or you’ve sailed the seas multiple times, you’re sure to find valuable tips to make your next cruise the best cruise. Discover how to choose the right cruise, destinations and shore excursions from the Caribbean and Mediterranean to Alaska. The information in this book could save you hundreds to thousands of dollars. And with the overwhelming number of choices and all the “deals” you hear about, Just Add Water helps cut through the clutter. Welcome Aboard.”


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What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made cruising?

7 mistakes to avoid when cruising