Cruises are a great option when you’re looking for a solo getaway, a romantic couple’s weekend or even a family vacation. Just board the boat, kick back and relax as the cruise crew takes care of you. Here are a few tips to help you book your cruise and set sail for a trip to remember.

Booking your next – or first – cruise
If you’re searching for a deal and have a flexible schedule, start looking at options about 60 to 90 days in advance. At this point, travelers must confirm their reservations and the cruise company will be able to release the unconfirmed cabins at a reduced rate to ensure the ship sells out.

Of course, this tip only works when you are able to avoid peak travel times. Spring break, Christmas, New Year’s and even Thanksgiving trips will likely sell out early.

If you are okay with a little rain, you can travel during hurricane season – don’t worry, they’ll keep you out of the path of the big storm. You can also find deals the first couple of weeks of December or in the first few weeks of January.

Making the most out of your trip
Do you love those relaxing spa treatments, dinners at specialty restaurants and amazing excursions? Paying for those as a package before you leave could save you a fair amount of money, so it’s worth looking into while you’re booking.

If you are planning to enjoy a few drinks aboard the ship, consider bringing a bottle of wine or champagne with you. Several cruise lines now allow guests to bring a limited amount of alcohol onboard, which is considerably less expensive than adding a drink package to your trip. However, always check the company’s website before assuming you can bring your own bubbly, otherwise you may have to surrender it at the dock.

Getting off the ship
Excursions can be a fun way to get off of the ship for a while and see a new country. Before you book that trip from the cruise company, consider exploring the destination on your own. Just keep track of the time – if you come back too late, the ship could leave without you!

If you do choose to book an excursion, try to do it before you get on the boat. These activities fill up fast and you may miss out if you wait until the day-of. Your best bet for excursions are the truly unique experiences, like a sea plane trip, distillery tour or a wildlife excursion like a dolphin experience.

Ready to book your cruise? CNN and Fodor’s have great suggestions for the best cruises available in 2015. The brand new Viking Star cruise that visits Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Berlin sounds like a great choice to us!

Let us know if you book a cruise and, of course, share your pictures with us on Facebook and Instagram!