Recently, I had an opportunity to sail the Mediterranean with a cruise ship with ports of call in several countries. Terrific? Yes! But it was also fraught with the necessity of doing some serious preparations prior to departure.
Homework? For a trip? For a cruise? Yes, indeed. Spend a little bit of time and money before departure and your dream trip will be more of a dream and less of a nightmare.
You are going to a different country. Note the word, different. That usually indicates an unfamiliar language, and different currency. Take the time to learn some helpful, polite phrases and spend a little money in transaction fees to have local currency at the ready when you arrive. I have learned the hard way that you cannot always count on the ship to have the correct currency or to charge you a reasonable rate of exchange or fee for doing so. Most importantly, it will free you to enjoy your trip without having to worry about where, when and how you will obtain currency. Even if you are on a “shore excursion” will you need local coin? Probably, for a cup of coffee, bottle to water or a that all important bit of memorabilia, the souvenir.
The Euro has certainly simplified the necessity of multiple currencies, but has not completely done away with it, so be prepared.
Part two of your homework is knowing where you want to go and what you want to do when you arrive. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who have no clue what awaits them in various ports of call. Far too often I have heard passengers query a port lecturer, “what should I do in….?” You are the one who chose the itinerary; you should at least have some idea of what you found attractive or intriguing about the destination and what is practical.
For example, you may have arrived in Palermo, Italy with the intention of driving the Amalfi Coast. Have you booked your rental car? Do you know here you must pick it up? Will there be someone there to check it back for you? (I could tell you a horror story about having to leave a car in Finland and the ensuing charges that took months to sort). A little preparation is all you need to save money, hassles and maximize your time.
Speaking of shore excursions, book early. To avoid the disappointment of a sold out tour book early. Most cruise lines have the option to book ahead of your departure date. If one of the tours is a reason why you selected this port/cruise, then be sure to book ahead so you wont’ be disappointed.
Just like the boy scouts, be prepared!
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