Cruising – Where do we start?
When we started cruising, it was a fairly simple task to choose a cruise. Today cruising has become one of the more interesting and popular ways to see the world. With so many cruise lines and cruise ships to choose from it is sometimes a bit daunting for the first-time cruise to dip his or her toe in the water, so to speak, and try a cruise. With so many seemly irresistible offers available in the media and online almost daily, it’s no wonder you can get confused.
There are some great cruise deals for you to take advantage of, but it is important to know the best time for these. The so-called Wave season of January to March is one of the busiest times for cruises being booked and the cruises lines transact up to 40% of their sales during this period and so this is the time to hunt for the best deals.
All cruise lines have a different style or theme which runs through all aspects of the ship. Some are very casual whilst others are more formal. Some are designed for a relaxing time at sea whilst others are packed full of adventure and things to do. We started our cruising life on Royal Caribbean and progressed to the likes of Celebrity Cruises and Cunard. Luxury Cruises are something to be treasured so make sure you know what you want from a cruise and then get your travel agent to point you in the right direction.
3. Time of year
Always consider the season in which you are planning to travel. Regions like Northern Europe and Alaska are popular because o their scenery but only run in a window from spring to autumn. The Caribbean is also popular, but it is a good idea to avoid the hurricane season and great for a post-Christmas break. Summer in the Mediterranean is normally a good choice, with good weather along with everything else that Europe has to offer.
4. How long should you go for?
For your first cruise always try a taster for say 4-5 days. This way you will find out if cruising is for you. Once you are hooked, then consider longer voyages. A typical action-packed trip with a young family could be for 2 weeks; for a short break then a week is quite normal. The bottom line is that you can take a 3-4 day cruise or a 100 day plus world cruise. From experience, longer and higher-priced cruises then attract an older profile of passengers.
5. Consider your budget
Be sure to check out if your cruise is Pay a You Go (PAYG) or All-Inclusive. As the names suggest one includes the basics of accommodation and food but not things like gratuities, drinks, coffees, etc these soon mount up on a 2 week Cruise but they are at different ends of the scale in terms of price. All-Inclusive Cruise includes almost everything including alcoholic beverages, tips, off-shore transfers, and off-shore activities.
Some people just never get seasick and it seems to be part of their DNA. If you are worried about how you will cope then try a shorter trip first and try to book on a larger ship as they are more stable. Try to book a cabin in the middle of the ship, on the lower decks as there is less movement here. Don’t be a hero and avoid taking seasickness tablets, they do work and allow you to enjoy the whole experience.
7. Dining Options
There are so many options when it comes to dining onboard, you need to choose one that suits your lifestyle. Onboard, restaurants come in all shapes and sizes and range from very informal buffet-style to formal black tie events and fine dining. There are options to suit every style so be sure to check out what is on offer. The one thing you will notice is that there is an abundance of food on cruises ships and you will never go hungry.
8. Know when to go
If you want to avoid cruise ships packed full of children then try to avoid the school holidays and which incidentally is the time when cruise companies have the highest fares. Doesn’t seem right really but it is all down to supply and demand. Cruising during the off-season is normally much quieter and this is when you can get the best deals. You often hear the question of what is the best cruise line and this is difficult to answer. There are many cruise websites that review cruise lines and their ships and you should check them out.
9. Size Does matter
With many very large ships in today’s cruise company fleets, it is sometimes forgotten that smaller ships have some real attractions. Smaller ships have the ability to access ports that the larger mega-ships are unable to enter, plus they are not so crowded. All in all, they are more exclusive and tend to cater to those travelers seeking to visit off-the-beaten-path locations.
10. Check your itinerary
Cruise Lines all have their own particular style and some cruises will build their itinerary around their ports of call and the attractions available to you when you go ashore. Other cruise companies focus entirely on the ship and its onboard facilities with little regard to where they are going. Always make sure you choose a cruise that suits your individual requirements and you should not be disappointed.