Planning and booking a cruise can be a daunting experience, especially if it is your first time going on one. Whether you are organising your cruise through a travel agency or directly with a cruise line, here are some tips to make the trip an enjoyable one.
The first thing you have to decide is who is going on the cruise. Most cruises are family friendly and will accommodate everyone from toddlers to grandparents, but if you don’t have children or don’t particularly want to be around them while on holiday, there are cruises that are adult-only. Some cruises will have a dress code, particularly for dinner services, so take this into consideration too. More information about this will be available through your travel agent or cruise line.
You’ll then have to decide on a budget. Generally all food and non-alcoholic beverages will be included in the booking price, but many ships will charge extra for specialist dining, casinos and additional shopping. You can save money by booking more than 2 people per cabin or by taking advantage of last minute and advance purchase offers. Cabin selection is normally a function of how much you want to spend and many cruisers will try to book cheaper rooms to free up cash for shore excursions or shopping.
Like most of the travel industry, holiday cruise prices are affected by the seasons, being more affordable in the spring or autumn. This is because children will be in school and the weather can sometimes be unpredictable. If you are travelling without children and don’t mind the odd spell of bad weather, this is a good time to get a great price on a holiday cruise. Some cruises, such as ones crossing the Norwegian fjords or the Baltic Sea, have limited seasons, roughly mid-May to mid-September. Tropical destinations will be available all year long, although the amount of rainfall will vary.
The next thing you have to take into account is how long your holiday is going to be. The longer the holiday, the more options you have for cruise destinations. Shorter cruises from Britain are available for Scandinavian destinations, Dublin, Amsterdam or Hamburg. Longer cruises popular with Britons include Caribbean and South American destinations.
The most critical point is where you want to go on a holiday cruise. This is often the most difficult decision for travellers. Remember that over three-quarters of the planet are covered by water, meaning you can reach each of the four continents and a great many countries on a cruise. Your choice of destination will of course be dependent on external factors dealt with previously, but remember that cruises are a relaxing and rewarding way to travel and there are many destinations to suit any budget or time period.
Going on a cruise offers a wide range of recreational activities, which will depend on your destination, and size of ship. Larger ships can offer gyms, spas, climbing walls and more, but there’s obviously the option of sitting on the sun deck and taking in the view. Scuba diving and other water sports can also be an option. Once you dock at destinations, cruises can offer port excursions to see historical and cultural sites, including museums and galleries. Your cruise line will provide a list of shore activities available to you before you book, often cheaper if you book before departure.
When arranging travel to your departure port, remember that many hotels offer long and short term hotel parking offers near international ports and docks, many with overnight accommodation, which can be a relief for early departure times.
Bearing all this in mind should help you make an informed decision to book the right holiday cruise for you and your party that will leave you with experiences and memories that last a lifetime.