1.  Read the guide that you received when you booked your Great Lake Cruise. You will want to learn all of the ways to move between the decks of the ship, the location of the exits and various lounges, spas and other amenities. Once you are onboard, be sure to locate all of these places. This is for both safety and comfort. Also, make a note of any special rules, regulations or requirements the cruise line might have listed in the guide.

2.  Be sure to make reservations early, both the initial reservations for the cruise, and any reservations that might have to be made once onboard for things like dinners, tours, etc. Check the tour brochure to see if alcoholic beverages or any special dietary items need to be ordered in advance and if so do so well before the cruise begins.

3.  Once onboard find a spot to spend some personal time. That might be the ship’s library, a deck chair, cabin or a ship’s lounge. Vacations are about relaxation and passengers will want to spend at least a part of their Great Lakes cruise relaxing and enjoying quiet time.

4.  Learn where to go, how to get there and what to bring. Where does the cruise begin? How do you get to the dock? What do you do with luggage? This goes for shore time as well. If you are with a companion, make arrangements for what to do if you get separated. The plan can be as simple as where to meet and when. Cell phones are handy for keeping in touch and if you don’t have a cell phone that will work in the US, you can buy a disposable one at most stores for just a few dollars.

5.  Ask questions. The crews are usually happy to answer ordinary questions. They are proud of their vessels and of the jobs they do and they enjoy sharing that with others. Don’t be a pest, but don’t be afraid to ask legitimate questions either.

6.  Try new things and activities that you would normally not experience. Part of the thrill of any vacation is seeing new things and doing new things that you can’t ordinarily experience, and Great Lakes cruises provide many opportunities for adventure.

7.  Study your ports of call in advance and if you decide to disembark at one, note the time the ship leaves port. Return to the ship early (some authorities say at least 30 minutes) early and know the name and phone number of who to contact to notify your ship of an emergency.

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