photo: Matthias Scholz/Alamy

Cruising Guide: How to Get the Most Out of Your Cruise

By AMA Staff

With hundreds of ships on the water, there’s a sea of choice. But AMA Travel is here to help you navigate! Combined, our cruise specialists have travelled on nearly every cruise line, waterway and route around the world. Thanks to their highly specialized nautical know-how and insider tips, AMA’s cruise specialists can help pinpoint the ship that’s right for you—along with some exclusive savings and special extras.

ASK AMA
Start by booking an appointment with an AMA Travel cruise specialist—by calling 1-866-989-6594. Your cruise specialist will: research hundreds of cruise options to suit your style and budget; provide AMA member benefits you can’t get anywhere else; book your flights, hotels and ground transportation; and connect you with our 24/7 support team while you’re travelling.

LEARN ABOUT LINES
To determine which cruise line offers the best value for your money, consider what’s included. Luxury liners often cover beverages (alcoholic and non), gratuities and meals in specialty restaurants, making them better values than seemingly cheaper cruises.

MORE TO READ
How to choose a cruise that’s right for you

BOOK EXCURSIONS WITH THE CRUISE LINE
You’ll get a licensed and experienced tour guide for an enriched cultural experience. And cruise-booked tours often feature front-of-the-line access to maximize sightseeing time.

DO SOME RESEARCH
Prioritize shore excursions and landmarks you want to visit. Find out about your destination, including cultural dos and don’ts, tipping etiquette, and how to say “please” and “thank you” in the local language.

ARRIVE EARLY
Spend a night or two in your cruise departure city. This will help you adjust to any time change and allow you to explore a new city before you set sail. To extend your holiday, consider staying a night after your cruise.

MORE TO READ
The hottest destinations to book for your next ocean cruise

WHEN TO BOOK
Knowing when to book and when to travel are key to saving money and getting the cruise you want.

Book Early: It’ll secure your preferred location on the ship—usually at a good price. Cruise lines increasingly offer their best pricing, plus valuable early-booking bonuses,12 to 18 months in advance. Travelling during Christmas, New Year’s or spring break? Book well in advance as these fill up even faster.

Go in Shoulder Season: You’ll avoid crowds and pay lower fares. To Alaska: late May to June or September. For the Mediterranean: April, October or November. For the Caribbean: April/May or October/November.

Beware of Last-minute: Offers are usually limited to select staterooms, which may not be in your preferred ship location. And airfare will typically be more expense the closer you book to your travel date. AMA cruise specialists have access to all available rates and will explain what value you can get with each rate.

WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED
Purchase travel insurance coverage with AMA Travel when you book your cruise to protect your investment and ensure you’re properly covered while travelling.