Cruising is the newest vacation fad to take Americans by storm and have them rushing to pack their bags. With great deals on cruise rates available at Hotwire and Orbitz, you won't have to worry about financing your dream vacation. But, understanding a few simple tips will take your international beach vacation from memorable to unforgettable. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Pack Light

Understand that your cabin is your home at sea, and understand that it's not very large. You should avoid the temptation to pack a day wear, nightwear and beach wear outfit for everyday you'll be on board. In reality, you only need one or two dressy outfits for evenings, and you can rotate your daytime wear. There are laundry facilities on board most ships. Remember that your suitcase must be stored in your already tight cabin, and that the larger your suitcase is, the less elbow room you'll have.

2. Identify Yourself

Having proper identification with you will not only make traveling through domestic airports easier, it will also help keep you safe in foreign ports of call. Most cruise lines now require all guests to have a valid US passport to board the ship. Your passport is one item that gets you onto and off of the boat, and should you miss your boat and become stranded in a foreign city, that passport helps get you home more quickly through the US Embassy. Put your passport in a watertight zip lock bag and keep it in a safe and secure place on your body at all times when you're off of the ship.

3. Show Up On Time

You might expect that if you're late to board the ship on day one, you'll be left. What you may not know is that if you're ever late to the ship, you'll be left. Although you will have to scan an identification card every time you get onto or off of the ship, no registrar makes sure every person who left the boat is back on board before anchor is pulled.

It is your responsibility to be back on the boat by the call time. If you're late to the pier, you can watch as the boat sails away without you. You'll then have to ensure the expense of a one way airline ticket from an exotic location back home. These can be expensive, and that's hoping you took enough cash with you off of the boat. Bottom line, show up on time.

4. Do Your Homework

Know where you're sailing before you ever board the boat. You'll want to understand tourist areas, safe places and unsafe neighborhoods in the places you'll be visiting. Although most places depend on the tourist dollar too greatly to be very dangerous, you'll still want to understand the political and economical climate of the places you're traveling. Avoid bad neighborhoods. If you're unsure of where is safe and where is not, make sure you book excursions through the cruise line and do not stray off on your own.