If you haven’t experienced a cruise ship vacation yet, then make that your next travel goal. It is an incredible vacation that can take you to all corners of the world. You’re sure to meet many seasoned cruise ship travelers on your trip. To get up to speed with those veterans, you’ll want to put these tips into action.

Smart Booking

When it comes to booking a cabin, you’ll have a lot of choices. They can boil down to balcony versus interior. Obviously, the interior cabin is going to be more cost-effective. When you consider that all the action is going to be outside your cabin, paying extra for the balcony might just be a waste. You should also check the cruise line’s cancellation policy. This isn’t so much about you canceling but someone else. If you can cancel two months before a trip, then that is when you should call to book. That’s because the cruise line will be desperate to fill up those empty cabins and can offer deep discounts. The same could be said for the airfares to the port. Don’t book through the cruise. You’ll find a better deal on your own.

Show Up Early

Just because you’re going on a five-day cruise doesn’t mean you can’t extend your vacation. In fact, you should plan to arrive in the port city a day or two early and stay a day or two later. This will give you plenty of time to decompress on both sides of your vacation. As for checking into the cruise, expect a big crowd in the morning. That is why you should wait until after two before boarding. This way you’ll be able to get into your room and avoid the check-in crowds. Otherwise, there will be a lot of standing around and lugging luggage. Don’t worry; the ship won’t leave without you!

Plan Out Your Meals

Your cruise ship vacation meals will either be all-inclusive or specialty dining. Obviously, the inclusive means it’s free, while the specialty dining can happen at one of the many restaurants you’ll find on board. Check out the menu for the week. If there is a meal that doesn’t appeal to your tastes, pick that night to go “specialty.” Many cruise lines offer free room service. Let me write that out one more time: Free room service. Take full advantage of that especially for breakfast.

Stay On Board

Part of every cruise ship vacation is a port of call. This is the destination for your journey. Guess what? You don’t have to leave the ship when it docks. The cruise line will try to upsell you with a lot of tour excursions. Often this will mean being stuck with a group and following an itinerary, not of your making. Instead, why not stay on the ship. You’ll be amazed at how the crowds will thin out. That will matter at crowded pools and spas. If you really want to get off the ship, then don’t be afraid of doing your own exploring. All aboard!