By Deborah R. Huso
MY HUSBAND AND I took our first cruise as
part of a three-week vacation to celebrate his
retirement. Sailing out of Fort Lauderdale,
Florida, we went on a five-day journey that took
us to George Town, Grand Cayman, and
Cozumel, Mexico. We learned a lot from that
first trip, including when it makes sense to
cruise (e.g., if you want to visit a lot of places all
at once without having to pack and unpack
every night) and when it doesn’t (if you want
greater control over your time and the ability to
spend several days at one destination).
Cruising let us get our feet wet in exploring the Caribbean. And it turned out, years
later, to offer a great way to get an overview of
Europe as well, first on a seven-night trip that
took us to ports of call in Scandinavia, Russia
and Eastern Europe, and later on a 12-night
journey that took us to European countries of
the Mediterranean and the Adriatic.
If you’re looking for a relatively hassle-
free, nearly all-inclusive vacation with the
opportunity to experience multiple destina-
tions over the course of one or two weeks,
cruising might be the ticket. But if you’ve
never taken a cruise vacation previously,
where do you start? With so many different
lines, ships and destinations, the choices can
Selecting the right line
Your best bet may be to consult a travel
expert who can help you sort through all the
options, based on your personality, interests
and vacation style. As you’re planning your
cruise, it’s important to have a budget in mind,
too, so you get the most bang for your buck.
Experts at Cruise Lines International
Association (CLIA) recommend three- to
five-night cruises for first-timers. “Cruising
throughout [North America] and the
Caribbean is a great way for first-time cruisers
to get acquainted with this type of travel,” they
add. The benefit is that you’ll experience a
good mix of on-ship and in-port time.
According to CLIA, the kind of experience you’ll have also depends to a large degree
on the cruise line you choose. If you’re looking for a quiet, more sophisticated environ-
How to choose the right cruise
The Costco Connection
Costco Travel offers a wide variety of cruises
throughout the world on many cruise lines,
with great value for Costco members. To
view all of the choices, go to Costco.ca
and click “Travel,” or contact a Costco
Travel expert at 1-855-863-0357.
A CRUISE VACATION can be all-inclusive,
if you don’t mind skipping a bottle of wine
with dinner and forgoing a massage at the
spa. But let’s face it: What’s a vacation
without a little indulgence? Here’s what
your fare may or may not include.
What’s usually included
• Your accommodations
• Your meals and snacks
• Basic beverages
• On-board shows and most
What usually costs extra
• Airfare to and from the
• Soft drinks and alcohol (though
there are some exceptions)
• Shore excursions
• Spa treatments
• Gambling in on-board casinos
• Gratuities (there are exceptions)
• Laundry service
Quick tips for first-timers
• Choose your stateroom carefully.
If you don’t like noise, you probably don’t
want to be next to an elevator or underneath the ship’s theatre, for example.
• Most cruise lines take your luggage on board for you. Make sure you
have a carry-on with your swimsuit, a
change of clothes, toiletries and medications in case your luggage gets to your
• If you arrive at the port of embarkation the day before departure, you won’t
miss your cruise if your flight should be
delayed a few hours.
• Get Travel Insurance at all times
when traveling outside of your province
or country of residence. It’s worth it if
weather, flight delays or other unforeseen circumstances prevent you from
making your cruise.
• Purchase guidebooks and/or apps
for your phone (beware of extra data usage
charges or Wi-Fi fees) on the ports where
your ship will be calling, to help you plan
ahead of time and learn about the regions
and countries you’ll be visiting.
• Ask if the cruise line offers discounts for seniors or repeat cruisers.
• Bring your passport.
• Expect to pay gratuities of about
US$12 to $17 per person per day; many
cruise lines allow you to pay a flat fee at
the beginning or end of the cruise.—DRH
64 ;e Costco Connection MARCH/APRIL 2016