The thrill of taking to the open seas is something many of us dream of. What better way to see so many different parts of world than from the comfort of a cruise ship? Imagine sailing past icebergs and mountains, watching whales and dolphins dance in open water. Or hopping between ancient cities and sun-baked deserts; old ports and majestic fjords.
With so many options to choose from it can be hard to know where to even begin. Which is why it is worth taking a few things into consideration so you can find a deal that ticks all the boxes. Here are a few simple pointers to help make your cruise booking plain sailing.
Length of the cruise
Cruises can last anything from a few nights to several months at sea. If you have yet to go on your first cruise then perhaps a shorter trip would be a good place to start until you find your sea legs. Being out in open water for long stretches of time away from civilisation can either be incredibly exciting and restorative, or a little unsettling. There is no right or wrong in this – it’s each to their own. So book a timescale you are comfortable with.
Your travel itinerary
Before committing to anything, ask yourself what kind of holiday you’re after. Do you want to explore as many places as possible with lots of port stops? Or just enjoy being on the ship, relaxing by the pool on the sundeck and taking part in the on-board entertainment?
Caribbean and Mediterranean cruises tend to be popular choices. But if you’re not a big fan of hot weather, there are plenty of cooler destinations to suit. You could even find yourself navigating Antarctica in an icebreaker ship.
If the cruise itinerary starts in another country, book your flight early to ensure you get there to embark on time. If you’d prefer not to fly, consider departing from a UK port instead. Some hotels near major cruise ports offer special park-sleep-cruise packages that are often worth taking advantage of.
Depending on where you want to go, your choice of boat doesn’t have to be a standard modern cruise ship. For example, you can explore Turkey’s coastline in a traditional wooden Gulet, or cruise up the Nile in a beautiful 100-year-old steam ship. These smaller boats are an experience in themselves and sometimes incredibly luxurious but will inevitably have less facilities and entertainment options.
If you’re opting to venture out on a bigger ship then choose your cabin’s location carefully. The ship’s noise and movement are usually less noticeable in the middle of the boat, one deck above or below the public rooms. So cabins around this part of the ship will likely be more peaceful, as well as those away from any lift shafts.
The least expensive cabins can sometimes be very small so look for dimensions to give a clear idea of what to expect. Most cruise liners offer a similar range of cabins as you’d find in a hotel, from a standard size to a spacious suite.
Once you’ve found a deal that appears to meet your wish list, take some time to check exactly what is included in the package and what you will need to account for in extra expenses. Every cruise offer is different so make sure you don’t get caught out with hidden costs mid-trip. Things such as flights and transfers, travel insurance and spending money often get overlooked so write a list of everything that you need to budget for and go from there.
If you’re after something a little bit different, why not consider a themed cruise? From Christmas markets to Northern Lights, Masterchef competitions and New York Times Crosswords – there’s an unusual cruise to suit even the quirkiest of seafarers. You can find out more about the types of unusual cruises on offer in our previous blog, here.