Cruising 101: 10 Things Travelers Should Know

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Cruising 101: 10 Things Travelers Should Know
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A vacation spent on a cruise ship is the ultimate antidote to stress. Designed to offer everything you need at the snap of a finger, cruises allow you the luxury to not worry about a thing once you embark -- that is, besides what to eat and where you should point your camera. The only hard part is choosing what sort of cruise is right for you and making sure you know what to expect when you step aboard.

The World's Your Oyster
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The World's Your Oyster

Practically every corner of the world can be explored by cruise ship. Whether you want to go island hopping around the Caribbean, whale watching in Alaska, sightseeing in Europe, trekking in the wilds of South America or bathing in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, there is an itinerary for you.

A Ship for Every Sailor
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A Ship for Every Sailor

A cruise ship can be enormous, akin to a floating metropolis, or much smaller with a more intimate environment. Make sure to think about which experience you would prefer, along with the entertainment and dining options available, before booking your trip.

Who to Bring
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Who to Bring

Most cruises are a one-size-fits-all experience; in other words, you can bring whoever you want, and once you get there, there's something for everyone. Whether you're a single looking to have a good time, a family craving wholesome fun, a couple sneaking away for a romantic getaway or a senior group searching for a little peace and quiet, you'll find the perfect environment on a Carnival cruise.

What to Pack
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What to Pack

Most cruise ships like to keep things casual, although guests are invited to dress to the nines for formal evenings, which are held once or twice a week. Keep in mind that while bathing suits may be the norm during the day, men are expected to wear long pants to most dinners. But there's no shame in packing extra elastic to make room for eating! Finally, the deck of a ship is slippery -- bring comfortable shoes not only for on board, but also for day treks at destination ports.

What's Included
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What's Included

Leave your wallet locked up in the safe in your stateroom because once you're on board, you'll rarely have to pay for a thing. Meals and entertainment for children and adults are nearly always included in the price of the ticket, as is 24-hour room service.

Budget Extra
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Budget Extra

Day trips, shopping and alcoholic beverages require extra charges, so factor in an incidental budget to the total cost of the trip. Also keep in mind that most cruise lines automatically add a daily charge for staff gratuities. And although ships usually have roaming Wi-Fi, connecting to the Internet using your personal computer or smartphone can be quite expensive. Yet another excuse to really disconnect from the frenzy of the outside world.

So Much to Do, So Little Time
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So Much to Do, So Little Time

Virtually all cruise ships have an incredible array of entertainment options. Whether you're in the mood for live music, stage shows, sports activities, shopping, gambling, dancing or comedy, chances are you'll find something to keep you busy from dawn until dawn. Try to book reservations either before you board or early on in your trip -- most activities tend to fill up fast.

Utilizing the Staff
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Utilizing the Staff

As a guest on a cruise ship such as Carnival, you'll have service at your disposal day and night -- from the cruise director, who makes sure things run like clockwork, to the stateroom steward, who keeps your room clean and comfortable, to the guest services attendant, who is the gateway to all fun activities. You'll never have to lift a finger. After all, that's what vacation is all about -- forgoing responsibility and just having fun.

Restaurant Overview
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Restaurant Overview

One of the best things about cruise ships is that they have an extensive selection of dining options, including fantastic buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When you book your trip, you'll be asked to choose your preferred time of dining, as well as the size of your party. If your time is not available, you're placed on a waiting list, which is cleared before boarding. Sometimes, on select ships, there are specialty restaurants where guests pay an extra fee per person to dine; reservations are recommended for these restaurants.

To Leave or Not to Leave?
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To Leave or Not to Leave?

Almost any itinerary you choose will include at least one port of call a day. You'll be able to take shore excursions at each one of them. Catch a cab solo to a historic site, sign up for a group tour through the cruise director, or just spend the day lounging on the beach. But if what you really want to do is just stay on the ship and relax, no one will judge you. After all, it's your vacation! But don't forget your passport, just in case you change your mind and decide to explore the local sites.

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