While I believe that there is a cruise for everyone out there – knowing which one to choose is the tricky part! Check out my top 10 tips for booking cruise holidays and ensure you choose the right cruise for you.
1. Speak to a cruise specialist.
2. Pre book drinks packages, WiFi and gratuities before you go.
3. Pre book speciality dining restaurants.
4. Choose your cabin wisely.
If you are going to be in port on most days, don’t waste your money on a balcony cabin / stateroom ( btw they mean the same thing!) If on the other hand there are lots of days at sea, you may find you will be in your cabin more – therefore can justify paying for a cabin upgrade. Look at the deck plans before you choose your cabin. You may wish to be close to the swimming pool or away from the nightclub. If you don’t want to be woken at 7 am with the sound of people going to breakfast, don’t select a stateroom beside the lift or stairs. Sea-sickness is minimal on modern cruise ships, however if you are one of the unlucky few who suffer from it, choose a cabin mid-ship as they are less affected in rough seas. Some ocean-view staterooms may have a view of life boats, they are usually called obstructed view rooms. Many modern ships have interior balconies which look out on to the promenade decks on the ship, these can be a better value option than sea-view balconies.
5. Check the dress code.
Some cruises have one formal night, others have two or three. If you don’t want to dress up, you can avoid these in most cases, by going to the buffet restaurant for dinner. Norwegian dress code is casual but Cunard and P&O Cruises are more strict on formal nights and really encourage it for their guests. Cunard even offer masquerade balls and a Royal Ascot Ball!
6. Book cruise connection with your travel insurance cover.
If your flight is delayed or if an airline goes on strike (which is not uncommon nowadays!) and you miss your cruise, cruise connection cover allows reasonable onward travel expenses and accommodation until you reach the next embarkation point of your cruise. Multitrip.com and Blue Insurance.ie have an option to add on cruise connection with any standard travel insurance policy. This could prove invaluable and I would strongly recommend anyone booking a cruise to make sure they have it.
7. Check in online and arrive early on embarkation day.
Depending on the cruise ship and the port, this can actually be quite an ordeal. Some of the larger cruise ships that carry 6,000 passengers can take a long time to board. If you have checked in online you will generally go to a shorter queue, but my advice is to arrive early and take a tour of the ship before the masses arrive!
8. Spend a day on the ship when it’s in port.
If you have already been to one of the port stops, use the time to stay on board instead. Pool areas are less crowded, many of the speciality dining restaurants have special offers and spa treatments are always available at reduced rates 🙂
9. Pre book shore excursions
Some of the top excursions can get booked out early, so if there is something you specifically want to see, pre book it. In some cases if you dock in the heart of a city you can easily explore yourself. However, if you need to travel a long distance to see an attraction it’s is usually best to book the shore excursion. There are lots of independent shore excursion companies that will probably offer cheaper prices than the cruise company, but if travelling long distance I like to book direct with the cruise company – at least you know the ship will not leave without you if you get delayed!
10. Try something new.
Modern cruise ships are so innovative you will be amazed at what amenities are at your disposal. You can try surfing, rock climbing and even sky diving on some ships – where else would you get the chance to try these activities, and most of them are free! Go on, make it a holiday to remember…
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