Booking a holiday is often a complicated task. Tying up flights, hotels and things to do whilst getting a great price is actually made harder by so many websites claiming they offer fantastic deals. Choosing a luxury cruise can simplify this process by rolling travel, accommodation, dining and excursions all into one package yet it’s a holiday option that remains a mystery to some vacationers. If you’re considering taking your first cruise then these ten tips will make you look like a seasoned professional in next to no time.
1. Pick The Right Cabin
After deciding where you want to go and therefore which cruise line operator you’ll be going with, this is your next consideration. Cabins are normally referred to as ‘staterooms’ and there are essentially four different types: Inside, Outside, Balcony Cabins and Suites. Inside rooms are usually the lowest cost as they don’t have windows. They are positioned, as the name suggests, on the inside of the ship. These offer the best value for money as you’ll have access to everything else on board for a lower price but if you’re claustrophobic or intend to spend long periods in your room then you may want to opt for one of the other categories. Outside rooms are the second cheapest option and come with sealed portholes near the waterline. At the pricier end of the scale are Balcony Cabins which have access to their own private balcony. Finally, the most expensive are Suites. These range in size and style but tend to include additional areas like a sitting room. It’s also worth noting that the best position for avoiding the movement that causes sea-sickness is in the middle or amidships, between forwards (front) and aft (back) and staterooms in this area are more expensive.
2. Buy Travel Insurance
This may seem obvious but if you’re one of those people that think ‘I never get ill, I won’t need it’ then think again. If this is your first cruise you’re unlikely to know whether you get seasick or not. If you are unfortunate enough to experience symptoms then there is an on board doctor who can administer an injection but you will be charged for this. Check that your policy will cover for this and any other activities you intend to do whilst away.
3. Book Excursions Early
Excursions run by the cruise operator can be expensive but they yield a number of advantages. Namely, if your excursion is delayed the ship will wait for you. This won’t happen if your trip is run by a third party operator. These can be booked in advance and often sell out, especially if there are other cruise ships docking in the port at the same time as yours so book early.
4. Don’t Get Caught Taking Alcohol On Board
On most ships you aren’t allowed to take your own alcohol on board (check with your provider before you pack). Your luggage will be scanned by an X-ray machine on embarkation and the cruise provider will confiscate anything they find. You’ll get it back when you return home but it may be embarrassing to get rumbled in front of your fellow passengers.
5. Pack Wisely
The temptation may be to pack clothes for every eventuality but you’ll be limited by the amount of storage space you have in your cabin, especially if you’ve picked a cheaper, smaller one. Check the temperatures of the places you’ll be stopping in at the time of year you’ll be there and pack accordingly. If you’re cruising around the Mediterranean you probably won’t need your winter coat. If you’re flying to your departure point you’ll also be limited by your flight allowance so take that into account as well. Having said all that; don’t forget to pack something smart, as ships have ‘formal nights’ where men don tuxedos and women get an excuse to slip into their cocktail dresses.
6. Put Essentials In Your Hand Luggage
On arriving at the port you’ll hand over your luggage to a steward who will arrange for it to be delivered to your room. They have thousands of passengers to deal with so this can take a little while. If you’re going to want to freshen up or change shortly after you get on board then pack these items in your hand luggage so that you have them available straight away.
7. Be Nice To Your Steward
You’ll almost certainly be delegated a personal steward to make sure you enjoy your cruise and to answer any questions you may have. Technically they are there to serve you but it’s also in their hands should you have a problem. Their ability to deal with it to your satisfaction could be directly related to how you’ve treated them.
8. Budget For Gratuity
Although tipping the odd steward here and there can be good for receiving perks it’s generally not recommended. At the end of your trip you will be billed for gratuity automatically (the cost of which varies, check with your provider) so it’s unnecessary to voluntarily add gratuity for any services you’ve received. It does mean, however, that you’ll have to budget this additional cost into your spending money.
9. Pick The Later Sitting At Dinner
Some cruise operators still serve dinner in the traditional ‘two sitting’ format. If you enjoy languishing over your food or are a particularly slow eater then opt for the second sitting so that you won’t feel rushed by the staff getting ready for the next round of diners.
10. Do Your Research
It’s perfectly possible to have an enjoyable trip while knowing relatively little before you board, however, the more you know in advance the better your cruise is likely to be. The good news is you’ve already taken the first step by reading this.
If you are looking to book your first cruise then Cunard offers an excellent selection of luxury cruise holidays. Click here for more information.