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I LOVE to cruise. I truly believe it’s the best way to travel. It’s so relaxing, has unlimited entertainment and food options, plus you get to see multiple ports. Sometimes, even multiple countries in a very short period of time. I’ve also always had immaculate service on cruise ships. I’ve been lucky to cruise on quite a few different lines, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, Disney Cruise Lines, and most recently, Celebrity. This blog post is going to cover things to know about cruising and some general tips for first-time cruisers. I’m also going to provide an in-depth review of my recent experience onboard the brand new Celebrity Beyond. This was the BEST experience I’ve ever had traveling, so you’re going to want to keep reading to hear more about it and learn how you can save BIG on a dream cruise of your own!
Disclaimer: This blog post is written in partnership with Cruise Travel Outlet. Cruise Travel Outlet is an independent associate of Travel Leaders Network, one of the world’s largest and most respected travel networks. Continue reading to learn more about how Cruise Travel Outlet can help you save big!
General Things To Know About Cruising
I’ll start with some general things to know about cruising before I dive into my review of the Celebrity Beyond! No matter where in the world you choose to vacation, or what cruise line you choose to spend it with, these are some helpful things to know:
Cruises are a real bang for your buck.
I know, I know. It sounds crazy given the price tags on some of these things. But really, cruises are essentially floating all-inclusive resorts. When you pay for a passenger, you’re paying for unlimited food 24/7 (not just 3 meals a day, but snack time anytime, late night bites, apps… everything), a comfy bed in a stateroom, the most deluxe “public transportation” from one city to the next, live music, comedy shows, musicals, a temporary gym membership, and so much more. Aside from some speciality dining restaurants, alcohol, and option excursions, everything really is covered when you pay upfront, making cruises pretty economical.
Travel from place to place seamlessly.
This is probably the best benefit of cruising over other forms of travel – it allows you to see so many different places in the most relaxing way. If you’ve ever backpacked or city-hopped via buses or overnight trains, you know how exhausting it is to drag your luggage from hotel to hotel and on and off the buses. Plus, figuring out all the logistics is so mentally draining. Cruise ships do all the hard work for you – your itinerary is already pre-planned, so you can fully unpack and move into your stateroom for the week. You literally get to travel from country to country in your sleep.
Plus, the Cruise Travel Outlet can you pick the itinerary of your dreams so that you’re crossing numerous destinations off your bucket list!
The food is amazing.
A lot of people are worried about not having immersive experiences on their cruises, and sure – they’re definitely not the most immersive way to travel, but you usually get 8-14 hours in each port. This is plenty of time to sample the local cuisine, enjoy a full day tour, or book an adventurous excursion somewhere more remote. If you don’t want to spend additional money, you can plan your meals to be onboard. And you won’t be disappointed.
One of the top things to know about cruising is that cruise ships have amazing meals! The buffets always switch it up, plus you can find something in there literally 24/7. Additionally, you’ll have access to the main dining room. Normally, it’s one giant dining room that has rotating meals each evening. You’ll have an allocated dining slot each night at the same table, so you really get to know the waitstaff well. Something that I loved about the Beyond was that instead of one giant dining room, they had 4 smaller themed dining rooms to choose from each night. The Cyprus, Cosmopolitan, Tuscan, and Normandy all had different menus and atmospheres, so we never got bored or sick of the food onboard. Plus, it was all included with the ship’s basic fare!
Pro-tip: If you’re sick of the buffet, you can pay a la carte for a few speciality restaurants on board. For example, I’ve been on cruise ships that have sushi restaurants and steak houses. I’ve always viewed this as a waste of money though. The buffets and main dining rooms are enough, plus I’d rather spend my money trying local foods in port.
Tips For First Time Cruisers
This section of the blog post is going to dive into some pro-tips for first time cruisers! I’ve been on numerous cruises and these are some things I wish I knew earlier on.
Alcohol and Wi-Fi aren’t included.
One of the most important things to know about cruising is that alcohol isn’t included on-board with most basic fares. You’ll have to buy a drink package, which usually averages ~$50 a day per person. Keep your eyes peeled for different offers and seasonal sales – a lot of times cruise companies will offer a free drink or Wi-Fi package if you book at a certain time.
My family and I were able to score some holiday deals on an eastern Caribbean cruise we did a few years ago!
Prepare for limited internet on-board.
Even if you buy the strongest, largest Wi-Fi package at sea – it’s still going to be rough. This has been the case for me on every single ship I’ve been on. It’s just hard to get premium internet access in the middle of the ocean! I recommend an international data plan for your days in port and just disconnecting during your days at sea. A lot of cruises have apps that will work on-board without internet where you can keep track of activities, book excursions, and even message with fellow travelers!
Tip the staff.
I can’t reitierate this one enough. The service on cruise ships is IMPECCIBLE. Especially on the Beyond. The Celebrity staff were some of the kindest individuals I’ve ever met. They treated my sister and I so well – calling us “madame” every day, tidying up our room every few hours, and making sure we were as comfortable as possible during our trip. You’ll notice that cruise ships have a very international and diverse family of crew. It’s common for people to leave their families to go work hard, long hours on a cruise ship, so please tip well. Cash tips are really appreciated by state room attendants especially at the end of your trip.
Pro-tip: Read the fine print when you book your cruise. Most of the time, tips, taxes, and other fees are included in the invoice. However, I did tip extra in cash at the end of our trip on the Beyond since our stateroom attendant, Sharon, did such a fabulous job.
Book local excursions on your own.
No shame to the excursion desk on cruise ships – those people are experts. However, the activites they offer are extremely expensive. My family and I usually choose 1-2 to do through the cruise each voyage, but I know most people tend to book these every day in port. That adds up FAST. Instead, grab your own tour through a third party travel service like GetYourGuide or TripAdvisor. Or even better, find a local guide!
Ports tend to be quite touristy, so you’ll stumble across a few tour guides within minutes of stepping into each new port. Find a few other passengers interested in a similar tour and you’ll have a very cheap, authentic experience! My sister and I did this in Olympia, Greece with a local travel agency for 5 Euro instead of paying 100+ Euro for a cruise excursion.
What To Expect On A Cruise: Celebrity Beyond
The Celebrity Beyond is brand-new, 2022 ship that often sails around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. My sister and I had the privilege of sailing on one of the Beyond’s maiden voyages last summer beginning in Rome, from Santorini to Athens, Malta, and ending with a weekend in Barcelona.
As mentioned above, the Beyond had numerous dining rooms open to the public, which allowed us to mix up our dining preferences each night within our basic fare package. We also took full advantage of the fitness center on board, the spa, and the pool deck. There was also an adult-only pool area on the 15th floor.
The Beyond as award-winning entertainment on-board as well! There were off-Broadway plays, comedy shows, dancing and singing, and so much more. Each morning, you can expect to get a brochure of the day’s events so you can plan your excursions around your exploration in port.
Introducing Today’s Sponsor: Cruise Travel Outlet Inc.
Cruise Travel Outlet is an independent associate of Travel Leaders Network, one of the world’s largest and most respected travel networks, which gives them tremendous buying power with preferred suppliers, as well as exclusive value added services and access to thousands of exclusive offers saving clients hundreds of dollars over their competitors. The key to Cruise Travel Outlet’s 32 years of success is their unapparelled service and commitment to making sure every aspect of your experience your expectations. They helped my sister and I plan the cruise of our dreams to Rome, the Greek Islands, Malta, and Barcelona. Fill out this form if you’re interested in learning more about saving big on your dream cruise. The team is ready to help you make your dream a reality!
That’s all for my list of things to know before cruising! I hope this post provided helpful tips for first-time cruisers. Thank you again so much to the Cruise Travel Outlet for working with me on this post! Stay tuned for more Europe posts and cruise guides from this trip.
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