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8 mistakes to avoid on your first cruise (and so much more!)

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Toying with the idea of going on your first cruise?

Toying with the idea of going on your first cruise? Here is what you need to know about choosing your next vacation and making it the trip of a lifetime. Your friends at AAA have put together five short articles about the topics every first-time cruiser wants to know. Here is a snippet from each article:

To read the full articles, go to wa.aaa.com/travel/experiences/cruises.

8 mistakes to avoid on your first cruise

Mistake #6: Don't book the wrong cabin. Some people think that all cruise cabins are equal. It's a nice thought, but it's far from the truth. If motion sickness is an issue, stay as low and as central as possible. The higher and farther from mid ship you are, the more you'll feel the ship sway and roll with the waves. Economically priced cabins can be had in the middle of the ship, but won't offer you an ocean view — and, in some cases, any view at all. If you want to enjoy sea views during your stay onboard, make sure your cabin (a) has a window, and (b) that window looks out to the ocean and not into an interior area. In addition, if you're looking for peace and quiet during your cruise, stay away from the pool deck, any show areas, or the engine near the back of the ship.

5 great cruise destinations

#1: Alaska. You can hop on a cruise ship to Alaska right from your own backyard, avoiding that pre-vacation flight, plus you don't have to worry about any visa requirements. Alaska's deep blue waters make for gorgeous voyages, and a cabin with a view will provide an excellent vantage point for the breathtaking coastline. Many cruise ships stop at the must-see and must-do attractions and experiences, so whether you want to glance at a glacier, watch for local wildlife, or hitch up your hiking boots, Alaska will have something for everyone. Check out the other four destinations on our must-see list.

Questions every first-timer should ask

Q#1: What is included in my fare? Generally, the ticket for cruise lines covers your stateroom, meals, ocean transportation and some, although not all, nonalcoholic drinks. The fare also covers shows, deck games, swimming pools, and hot tubs. What usually is not included are specialty and alcoholic drinks, internet access and amenities such as spa treatments, shore excursions, and fitness classes.

5 steps to plan your next cruise vacation

Step #1: Pick a destination. This is the part where you really get to decide what you want to see and do. Do you want to go someplace new and exotic? Or do you just want to catch some rays and enjoy the surf? Understanding what you want to achieve will go a long way toward making this trip a success. One of the reasons to choose a cruise is to travel to places where you might feel a little uncomfortable visiting on your own. If you haven't the first clue about where to go in Southeast Asia, for instance, don't worry. Cruise lines and their crews have been there and done that.

34 items you must take on your cruise

The first seven items on the "clothes" list: Sun hat or small fan, walking shoes, shirt packing folder, lightweight jacket, sunglasses, swimsuit and cover, and mini umbrella.

For the rest of the packing list, tips, questions, and destinations, visit AAA.com. You do not have to be a AAA member to talk to AAA's expert travel agents. Their experienced travel agents are excited to help you plan your next trip of a lifetime.

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