Ready to set sail on a journey beyond the Caribbean? In this episode, join us as we explore cruising’s diverse horizons. Hear how demographics shift as you cross oceans, navigate varied weather, and adapt to docking versus tendering at unique ports. Unravel the new schedules, delve into pre- and post-cruise adventures, and find comfort in the familiar pleasures cruising offers. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or new to the seas, tune in to chart your course on Travel Talk!
Cruising in the Caribbean usually includes a lot of families. There are children of all ages onboard and a lot of them. If you look at the same cruise line, but in a different region, you may find a different mix. For example, cruises to New England and Canada may have mostly adults and possibly older adults. Alaska and the Mediterranean will have a mix of families with teenagers and adults and not as many younger children.
Most people think of cruise wear and warm weather when they think about cruising, but the weather varies based on the destination. This may be obvious, but even as we were packing for our Alaska cruise I had to keep reminding myself that we needed warmer clothes. Keep this in mind as far as packing, but also as far as planning. Will a cooler vacation not “feel like vacation” for you? We didn’t spend much time in a bathing suit in Alaska and more time playing games and activities on the ship.
If you look at your cruise itinerary, it will say you are “docked” each day that you are in port. You will find with other itineraries, such as the Mediterranean, you may have more ports where you are “tendered.” Some people are not familiar with tendering, so I wanted to share a little more about that. When the port is marked as “tender,” it means the ship will anchor off shore a little bit and you will take a smaller boat called a tender from the cruise ship to the port. Some ports have larger tender boats they use to take you to and from the port and in other cases, the cruise ship uses their own life boats as a tender.
Tendering adds another step when going ashore. You may need a tender ticket or to sign up for a time. It will take a little longer to get to and from the shore versus just walking off the ship, so you’ll need to allow for more time to get to an excursion. It’s important to note that some tenders are not wheelchair accessible.
As you look at potential itineraries and compare different cruise lines, you will want to take note of not only ports you will visit, but whether you will be docked or tendered.
In the Caribbean, there is usually a standard schedule where you arrive in port in the morning and depart around dinner time on each of your port days and then you have sea days where you will enjoy the ship. This is not the same schedule on other itineraries outside the Caribbean.
Take a close look at the itinerary. In Bermuda or Hawaii, you are often in port overnight. In Alaska, you may not get to port until 2 pm or even 6 pm. Since it is light so late at night, they have longer days in port. And in some cases, your “sea day” is a big part of the trip. This is also true in Alaska when you are in Glacier Bay. You are not “in port,” but it is all about Glacier Bay and you will not want to spend the day at the spa or pool. You want to be on deck viewing the different glaciers and going to the talks with the park rangers.
Keep in mind the dining seating you choose. You may always want main dining or late dining on a Caribbean cruise, but it is a good idea to revisit this decision on other itineraries. If you are three to six hours ahead or behind of your regular schedule that may affect the dining time. Be sure to look at the time in ports and see if that affects your dining choices.
Pre/Post Cruise and Documentation
As you go outside the Caribbean you may also want to add time before or after the cruise, such as an Alaskan cruise tour or some days in Rome before or after a Mediterranean Cruise. When traveling far to your cruise port, it is even more important to fly in the day before or sooner to ensure you get to the ship on time.
You will also need a passport and possibly visas for all members of your travel party as you may be leaving from a foreign port. There are a few extra steps you may not be used to and your travel advisor will help you take care of all the details.
What Is the Same?
If you like cruising, you will find there is still a lot that is the same. There is entertainment, casinos, amazing food, and an all-inclusive type feel (for those with hungry teenagers). It is very convenient to see so many different places without having to pack and unpack multiple times. If you love cruising, but are looking to go to Hawaii, Alaska, Europe, or the Mediterranean, then you should consider doing it with your favorite cruise line. We can help you get there.