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Cruising 101: 4 things to do before setting foot on a cruise ship

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If you're thinking about a cruise for your summer vacation, as you pack your sense of adventure, be sure to pack some sound advice.

Bill Blake is our Senior Director. He's at the controls, making sure that camera shots are angled just right, and anchors are ready to read on cue. And when he's not in the control room, he enjoys letting someone else steer the ship. In the newsroom, he's earned the nickname of "cruise connoisseur."

"I've been cruising for 12 years, my wife and I have gone on a total of 17 cruises. And we've cruised all the major lines, like Royal Caribbean, and Carnival, Princess, and Holland America," Blake said.

Blake says there are four things anyone planning a cruise should do before setting foot on a cruise ship:

1. Do your research.

Check out websites and reviews to figure out which cruise line best fits your personality.

"Celebrity tends to have little elegant touches. It caters to I guess a more middle age crowd, young professionals, middle age, emphasis with Celebrity is more on food, and upscale entertainment," Blake says.

He says Carnival is more for the young, hip party crowd, and Holland tends to cater to seniors who enjoy a laid-back atmosphere.

2. Buy international long distance.

If you are traveling to the Caribbean and you plan on taking your cell phone with you, you will definitely want to buy international long distance. Otherwise, your cell phone bill is likely to be outrageous when you get home.

3. Select accommodations to compensate for motion sickness.

If you are afraid the movement of the ship might leave you a little queasy, Blake says there's a portion of the ship to try to focus on when booking a cabin.

The middle of the ship on a lower level seems to be the "sweet spot" to reduce the effects of the waves, Blake said.

4. Spend the extra money on travel insurance.

Travel insurance comes in handy in case of cancellation, and emergencies.

"And where that can come into play is, say you're at sea and you trip on the boat and break your leg. Well they might have to hire a helicopter to come out and fly you off the boat and take you to the hospital. If you don't have cruise insurance, you have to pay for that helicopter out of pocket," Blake says.

Blake recommends the website CruiseCritic.com. There, they have lots of tips, details about the latest cruise deals as well as cruise reviews. 

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