4: Sail with experienced cruisers
Choosing the right cruise line, ship and cabin is essential to your cruising bliss. Cruisecritic.com is a helpful one-stop site for cruise research: from trip ideas and itinerary planning to purchasing cruises to tips for first-timers. Cruise Critic’s expert reviewers have the inside scoop on ship layouts, cuisine and great deals. And users keep the forums and message boards buzzing with tips, trip reports and cautions. The comprehensive port-of-call reviews include tested advice on how to maximize your time on land, especially regarding shore excursion options.
5: Check out the perfect hotel
Search for a hotel on Hipmunk.com, and your results are plotted on a Google map, complete with a street view. Filter search results to show hotels by price range, brand or amenities offered. Float the cursor over one of the price-range color-coded hotel dots on the map to instantly read related TripAdvisor reviews. “Heat map” buttons on the top right-hand corner of the page display the density of restaurants, sights, shops and nightspots on the map. This helps you get to know your hotel’s neighborhood — whether it’s sleepy and quiet or crowded with attractions — and, most important, determine whether it’s the right place for you.
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