7 Tips for Every Cruise-Bound Honeymooner
Dreaming of a honeymoon at sea? Get the lowdown on what you need to know before booking your trip from Cruise Critic's Colleen McDaniel.
1. Research, Research, Research
There are so many options, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Instead, get focused. Think about how many days you have for your trip, the cruise environment you want and the destination cities on your wish list. Then start exploring the possibilities. "Research is key," McDaniel says. "Use sites and speak to a travel agent. Research everything from destinations to ship choice, cabins and onboard dining options." Getting excited yet?
2. Plan At Least a Year Ahead to Get What You Want
Even though a last-minute booking can sometimes lead to a great deal (see below), if there's a specific cabin you want, it's better to book at least a year ahead. Another bonus? "You'll have a better chance of getting added-value benefits, like drink packages, prepaid gratuities or airfare," says McDaniel.
3. If You Choose to Splurge, Pay Attention
It's your honeymoon and you should go all out if you want to. Just make sure you compare all the details. "Suite perks vary by cruise line, so you should check before you book," McDaniel says, mentioning differences such as the size of the rooms and what's included. Some cruise lines offer a range of luxury options, from personal butlers and spa service to private on-deck cabanas and in-room full-course dining. If you're looking for the most romantic experience, Princess Cruises is rated as one of the top lines thanks to its honeymooner-friendly services.
4. Budget Accordingly
The last thing you want to do on your getaway is reel in your fun when unexpected costs arise. Have the time of your lives and count your pennies ahead of your honeymoon by understanding what is and isn't included in the cost of your trip. "Most mainstream cruise lines don't include things like alcohol, tips, spa treatments, shore excursions or speciality restaurants in their fares," McDaniel says.
5. Factor In the In Between Travel
Don't let travel issues come between you and your getaway. Allow for enough time between the wedding and the cruise to reach the port, whether you're driving or flying there. "While you might be inclined to fly to the port city the day of your cruise, we recommend getting in the day before to avoid any potential flight delays," McDaniel says.
6. If You Really Want to Save, Be Flexible
You can find great bargains by booking on short notice, but you'll have to have an open mind. You definitely won't get your first pick of sailing dates, cabins and itineraries. Look for cruises leaving within 90 days, when final payments are due. "Cabins not paid in full might be released, which could result in discounted fares," McDaniel says. You can also narrow in on a destination's low season to find a good deal, but the weather may not be ideal and local bars, restaurants and other attractions could be closed. Wave Season (January through March) is also the time of year when cruise lines unveil their newest promotions for the next season.
7. Say You're Booking Your Honeymoon
Whether you're making your reservation through a travel agent or through the cruise line, definitely mention you're booking your honeymoon. "This means a note that you're celebrating a special occasion will be attached to your booking, which follows you onboard," says McDaniel. "It's the chance to book that romantic table for two in the main dining room, rather than joining a large table, if you prefer alone time," she continues.