Imagine a beautiful personalised wedding ceremony on the sea: a stress-free event you’ll treasure forever. After sealing your nuptials with a kiss, you and your beloved step out on deck to be greeted by a beautiful expanse of sparkling sea. This is a cruise ship wedding, and it is glorious.

While rising in popularity, wedding cruises are still one of the more unusual ways to tie the knot, throwing up a good few questions about logistics. Thankfully, we are on hand to fill you in on what to expect when getting married on a cruise ship.

A hassle-free ceremony

Couple holding hands after wedding cruise

Cruise ship weddings are perfect for couples who want the planning process to be as simple as possible. After all, there is nothing worse than feeling too stressed out to enjoy such a life-changing event.

Most cruise lines offer full service wedding cruise packages, taking the hassle out of planning. Many ships even have their own on-board chapel! Alternatively, you can get married at one of your ports of call, but either way, your cruise line will arrange everything from musicians and cakes to flowers, confetti and wedding photographs.

Indulgent extras

Woman having a massage in cruise ship spa

Getting married on a cruise ship offers the perfect opportunity to cater to your indulgent side. After all, you’ll have a whole range of additional extras to choose from.

Just some of the bonuses can include a reception hosted by the Captain themselves, commemorative formal photographs, cosy bathrobes to take back home, luxurious spa treatments, cabin upgrades and even champagne.

A family affair

Friends enjoying drinks at a wedding reciption

Your wedding is as much about spending time with your loved ones as it is about declaring your love for your other half. Cruise ship weddings offer the option of your family and friends joining you on-board, turning your big day into a proper trip away with all of your family and friends. From an intimate gathering to a full-on celebration, the choice is yours.

A honeymoon and wedding in one

Couple sitting together on a Caribbean beach

One of the best things about wedding cruises is being able to combine your wedding and honeymoon into one blissful journey. Honeymoons at sea are growing in popularity, with many cruise lines offering couples special honeymoon cruise certificates.

What could be more blissful than a wedding day of indulgent celebrations flowing straight into a honeymoon that takes in your dream ports of call? The pristine beaches of the Caribbean and serene atmosphere of Asia are just a few of our favourite honeymoon destinations.

A key regulation

Emerald Princess cruise ship sailing away from port

As with any ceremony, cruise ship weddings come complete with a few regulations. The main regulation is that, for the wedding license to be valid, your ship must be either in port or less than three miles from land. Not all cruise lines offer this, but you can rest assured that Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises offer legal, captain-led wedding ceremonies at sea.

A wedding cruise is the experience of a lifetime, embodying all of the luxury and romance you need to create memories you will treasure forever. With excellent facilities, mouth-watering cuisine and unrivalled entertainment, indulgence is a given.

Would you like to find out more about getting married on a cruise ship? Call our dedicated Cruise Concierge on 0207 980 2847 to find out more about on-board nuptials.

If you’re cruising with family, there’s no need to worry about anyone getting bored. The majority of cruise lines offer kids’ services, facilities and entertainment, to ensure even the little ones are kept entertained throughout the days and evenings. The majority of cruise lines also offer family-friendly staterooms and suites with additional beds/rooms/sofa beds/bathrooms, which not only save you money on the cost of your cruise fare, but keep the whole family together, yet are big enough to give you all the space you require.

We’ve picked out a few of our favourite cruise lines’ family propositions…

Royal Caribbean

Flow Rider

A brilliantly family-focused cruise line, Royal Caribbean’s offerings seem endless. From rock-climbing walls to surf machines, dodgems to basketball courts, there are some great activities. But it doesn’t end there for your kids.

Their Youth Programmes are fantastic, placing children in groups with others of similar ages giving them friends for the whole holiday. They can be taken for dinner with their club too, leaving you the opportunity to dine à deux, or you can take them for a hotdog at Johnny Rocket’s (and enjoy one yourself!). But you’ll never forget their faces when you take them to the DreamWorks Experience. Their award-winning Adventure Ocean® is already filled to the brim with exciting activities - just imagine how exciting it will be when their favourite characters pop in for some fun! These popular characters will interact with the kids in fun activities such as story time, dance parties and more.

Celebrity Cruises

Xbox

On-board Celebrity's ships you'll find dedicated Xbox stations and mobile consoles, creating one of the largest digital game and entertainment experiences at sea. Whether playing solo, or participating in an Xbox tournament or gaming theme night, there’s something for everyone in your family—from our youngest gamer to our most savvy teens. There is even programming for adults (but we won’t let the kids in on that little secret).

Celebrity cruises also have a programme for budding young directors and screenwriters where they will be taught how to create a film from scratch and there’s even an awards ceremony! There are fantastic youth programmes with activities arranged by age group, from games and treasure hunts for the little ones, to teens-only late night dances. There’s so much on-board to suit the whole family.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Spongebob

When it comes to keeping the kids happy, Norwegian Cruise Line have got it all covered. Offering an exclusive Nickelodeon entertainment programme, the only thing your children will have to complain about is going back home. Kids can take part in interactive game shows, eat breakfast with SpongeBob SquarePants and sing and dance at Dora’s Music Party.

Not only will the older kids love the on-board waterpark’s slides and tubes, but they will also have access to their own lounge area, where they can take part in Wii and Xbox challenges, team building and sports activities. Norwegian Cruise Line ensures that your children will be supervised by qualified childcare professionals, so you can relax in the knowledge that they are safe and sound. The entertainment doesn’t stop there, as NCL have recently introduced The Blue Men group as part of their world-class line-up, ensuring the perfect entertainment for all the family.

Sticking to their freestyle policy, you will find a host of suites and staterooms on-board your vessel, to ensure that you find the perfect accommodation for you and your family. The Private Haven, which is perfectly hidden on top of the ship, is a well-appointed suite, perfect for the privileged few. NCL’s suites and Penthouses offer spacious living areas, luxury bathrooms and your very own butler.

MSC Cruises

Doremi Castle

No one understands families better than MSC Cruises and they will ensure you and your loved ones enjoy every moment to the full. The Aqua Park, pools, water slide and games consoles are all included and much more.

The family will always be made to feel welcome with MSC Cruises – special welcomes, beepers and a whole programme of activities, social events and entertainment all combine to make it the perfect family holiday. Your children are free to explore a social life of their own, meeting new friends from around the world in a safe environment on a holiday they’ll never forget. As for the grown-ups, you can relax in the knowledge that your children are being looked after and are enjoying the time of their lives.

Carnival

Carnival golf

The award winning Carnival youth program is certainly one they are proud of and it’s not hard to see why. With pool parties, dance competitions, arts and crafts, video games, exclusive teen shore excursions, sleepovers and karaoke, your youngsters certainly won’t be bored on their holiday. Additionally, on-board you can expect waterslides, spray fountains, countless swimming pool and on Carnival Vista the first ever IMAX screen. In the evenings, Carnival ships truly come alive, when you can enjoy exceptional production shows in the show lounge

Here at Cruise118, we have a team of dedicated Cruise Concierge who are on-hand to help to plan every aspect of your cruise. If you'd like some help in choosing the ship that's best for your family, or any advice about the types of staterooms that are available to accommodate you, please don't hesitate to give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

Winter cruises are cheaper

Because families make up a big portion of the cruise market, there’s much less demand when children are in school. But cruise ships need to be filled all year round, meaning that you’ll find some of the best discounts outside of the school holiday periods.

Even when you consider passengers without children, many only take one cruise per year, and they opt for the summer season.  This leads to less demand for winter sailings, and this is when you’ll find cruises at a fraction of the price of the peak summer dates.

The reason most people automatically think of summer as the time to take a cruise is usually the weather. However, this only applies to cruises in Europe. Which leads us on to our next point

It’s the best time to cruise around Dubai and the Emirates

Dubai

Between June and September, the weather in Dubai usually reaches 40°C each day, and sometimes the mercury even hits 50°C. This can be too much for even the hardiest of sun-worshippers. However, in December, January and February, you’ll find temperatures are a more ambient 25°C, perfect for sightseeing and still warm enough to come back with a nice tan.

You’ll avoid hurricane season

Barbados

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which wreaked havoc on many Caribbean islands, hurricanes are a concern for many cruisers planning holidays around the Caribbean, Mexico and Bermuda. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to November.

Even if you avoid a ‘hurricane’ as such, strong winds and high swells can mean that your ship may have to divert and miss out certain ports of call. With extra sea days, and outside decks closed off, your holiday can suffer if bad weather strikes. Although inclement weather can happen at any time of year, you’ll find the lowest chance of hurricanes and storms in February – making it the ideal time to visit the Caribbean.

The scenery of Northern Europe is stunning

magdalenefjorden

Another place that we recommend to enjoy a cruise in the winter is Northern Europe. The magnificent scenery of the Norwegian Fjords is made even more beautiful when the mountains are snow-capped. You’ll also find some fabulous winter activities on offer; such as dog-sledding and snowmobiling.

The Northern Lights, which are best viewed between October and March, are a phenomenon that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Avoiding light pollution gives you the best view – making a cruise ship at sea the perfect place from which to see them.

Cruise ships are less crowded

Magellan

While it’s unlikely that your ship will be empty, you’ll definitely notice a less crowded atmosphere on-board outside of the peak summer season; particularly for Mediterranean itineraries. You’ll have the advantage of not queueing for lifts or restaurants, better seats during the evening entertainment shows and a hassle-free experience when finding a sun lounger.

Ports of call are less crowded

Rome

Similarly, sightseeing out of season can be a much more pleasurable experience. You won’t have to worry about queuing or getting tickets in advance for the popular tourist attractions. Some of Europe’s cities can get very hot and crowded in summer, so visiting in winter can be a much less claustrophobic experience.

There are fewer children on-board

carnival-pool-couple

If you’re looking for a relaxing cruise, winter is your best bet. With the children at school, you’ll likely find older, more sophisticated passengers on the ship. So if you’re looking to enjoy the pool without getting splashed, or enjoy a game of mini golf without kids getting in the way, a winter cruise is recommended.

You can do your Christmas shopping

Paris Christmas Market

Here’s an idea – why not cruise in November and December and do all your Christmas shopping on the continent? In Europe's cosmopolitan cities, you’ll find some fabulous Christmas markets and shops selling unique gifts. Plus, if you’re sailing from the UK, you won’t have to worry about a luggage allowance; meaning that you can stock up on as many gifts as you can fit under the bed in your stateroom.

Celebrate Christmas and New Year on-board

Surfing Santa

Christmas and New Year can be a wonderful time to enjoy a cruise. You’ll find the ships decorated in style to create a lovely festive atmosphere on-board. Enjoy a top-class Christmas Day meal at no extra charge, and you’ll even have the pleasure of avoiding any washing up (or relatives, if this is a concern!)

Give yourself something to look forward to

Couple on balcony

January can be one of the most depressing times of the year. It’s for that reason that it’s the most popular time make a cruise booking, with cruises departing later in the year. Why not reverse that trend and book your cruise in advance to depart in January or February? That way you’ll have something nice to look forward to once the festive period is over. A great way to beat those winter blues!

If you'd like any advice about the best time of year to visit certain destinations, or any help with booking your cruise, our cruise concierge team are on hand to help. Just give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

Perhaps you've cruised before as a couple and are planning your first voyage with a family in tow? Or maybe you've taken your little one for a hotel stay but never on a ship? Whatever your situation, if you're taking a cruise holiday with a baby or toddler, it pays to plan ahead.

Packing for babies can be a mammoth job even for a short trip. So to save you some time, we've produced this handy list of things you need might need during your cruise getaway.

 

Pram

This is a must. Even if your toddler prefers to walk, most cruise ships are pretty big, so they’ll probably get tired of walking whilst on-board, not to mention during excursions. A comfy pram will also give them somewhere to take a nap if you don’t plan on returning to your stateroom for nap time. Taking a cheap umbrella-folding buggy could be a better choice than your usual bulky pram, as you’ll need to fold it up any time you board a coach, mini-bus, plane or tender boat.

 

Baby carrier

A baby carrier or sling is sometimes preferable to a pram, depending on what you and your baby are used to. If you’re travelling by plane, you’ll have to check in your pram, and may then have some distance to walk through the airport before you get it back at the other side – a baby carrier can come in very handy at this point.

 

Car seat

Why would you need a car seat on a ship? Well you won’t, bit if you’re travelling by coach or taxi during your journey from home to the ship, or on excursions, you’ll probably feel safer to use it than to sit your baby on your lap. You aren’t limited by luggage restrictions on the ship, and most airlines let you take a car seat for free in addition to your luggage allowance.

 

Inflatable baby bath

This is necessary for two reasons. Firstly, most staterooms have showers rather than baths - and giving a baby a shower in a cramped bathroom is likely to be unpleasant for both of you. Secondly, you can take it poolside to create a private paddling pool for your tot. Children in swimming nappies aren’t allowed in cruise ship pools for hygiene reasons, so their own paddling pool is vital if they like to splash around.

 

Baby food and formula

Some cruise lines will puree food for babies, but it’s generally easier to take your own. Make sure that you take enough baby milk for the trip. Check that your stateroom has a kettle if you'll need to boil water - you can also get boiled water in most bars and restaurants. A few of the ready-made bottles are sure to come in handy for during excursions as well.

 

Bottles and steriliser

Take as many bottles as your baby uses in 24 hours. That way you’ll only have to do the washing up once per day. If you usually sterilise at home, you’ll probably want to continue this while you’re away. Sterilising tablets are recommended for this job, as they don’t take up much room and can be used with any large container.

 

Washing up equipment

You’ll want to wash your child’s bottles and sippy cups each day in your stateroom, so remember to pack sponges, brushes and washing-up liquid. You probably won’t be able to buy these on-board.

 

Bibs

Imagine the scene – you’ve dressed your toddler up in a cute yellow dress for formal night, and then you head to the buffet where she demands spaghetti bolognese. You’ll definitely be needing a bib for that – a tucked-in napkin just won’t cut it. The best kind of bibs are probably the plastic ones which you can wipe clean with a baby wipe at the end of each meal. Some even roll up to save space. Although some people find that disposable paper bibs are preferred as you can throw them away after dessert.

 

Plates, bowls, cups and cutlery

Whilst most cruise lines will have some plastic plates and bowls on hand – it’s better to be prepared – especially if your little one is a ‘thrower’. Carrying your own can save you from asking every time you visit the buffet or snack bar.

 

Nappies, wipes and nappy bags

Most cruise ships don’t sell nappies and wipes on-board, so it’s important to bring your own. Check the cruise line’s policy on swimming nappies. They’re generally not allowed in the main pools, but may be allowed in certain splash pools in the kids’ area.

 

Portable changing mat

You’ll find plenty of baby-changing facilities on-board your ship. However, whilst on land, the same facilities may not be available, depending on the country and places you’re visiting. If you’re forced to change your baby on a toilet floor, beach or coach, you’ll be glad of a changing mat! So take a small, fold up one for emergencies.

 

Medications

Even if your child is rarely ill, packing some Calpol, nappy rash cream, teething gel and a thermometer is a good idea as you may struggle to get these items on-board.

 

Sun protection

Sun cream, hats and sunglasses are all a must for little ones in warm destinations, and much cheaper to buy before you board. Babies should avoid direct sunlight altogether, so a clip-on umbrella or sun-shade for the pram can also be handy.

 

Toys

Yes, there’s lots to do on-board, but much of this is geared at the over 3s. There’ll be plenty of times when you’ll want your child to be kept busy so that you can enjoy a meal or a drink in peace. You’ll also want to keep them entertained during your journey from home to the port – so take a new toy which they haven’t seen before.

 

Tablet

Parents these days will wonder how people coped before iPads were invented. From calming a screaming toddler in a restaurant, to entertaining them with an hour or two of ‘Peppa Pig’ during a flight, many mums and dads choose to abandon their rules on limiting screen time whilst on holiday. Come 10pm when you want a cocktail, letting your little one watch ‘In The Night Garden’ in the pram can be preferable to pacing up and down the ship trying to lull them to sleep.

Do you have any more ideas for what to pack for your cruise holiday with young children? Let us know in the comments below.

Here at Cruise118, we have experts on hand to help you plan the perfect cruise for your family. For advice about any specific cruise, or prices on the most suitable family staterooms for your needs, please don't hesitate to give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

If you're planning a cruise with children under 3, it's important to plan ahead. Choosing the right cruise line for your family can make all the difference to your holiday. Will your little ones be allowed in the kids club? Can they go in the pool? And what facilities are available for babies and toddlers in the restaurants?

We've picked out the best cruise lines for families with under 3s, based on the facilities they offer...

P&O Cruises

P&O Night Nursery
Why P&O Cruises are great for little ones…

  • The kids club takes kids as young as two
  • When you leave young children in the kids club you get a pager in case you need to be contacted
  • There are soft play areas where parents can take under 2s
  • Free babysitting is available between 6pm and 2am for kids aged 6 months to 5 years
  • Restaurant staff can provide baby food and puree fruit and veg
  • Bottle warmers and baby bathtubs are provided on request

The negatives…

  • There’s no in-cabin babysitting available
  • Children who are not toilet trained and are wearing swimming nappies are not allowed in any of the pools

Cunard Line

Cunard Kids' Club

Why Cunard is great for little ones…

  • There are nurseries open from 6pm to 11pm, where children aged under 2 are looked after free of charge, with pagers available for parents
  • The kids' club takes children as young as two – for most cruise lines they have to be three and toilet trained
  • The library has some great kids’ books which you can take away to read
  • The restaurants serve baby food and will also blend food on request

Any negatives?

  • There’s no babysitting past 11pm and no in-cabin babysitting
  • The in-cabin TVs don’t have any kids’ channels
  • Children who are not toilet trained and are wearing swimming nappies are not allowed in any of the pools

Carnival Cruise Line

Camp Ocean

Why Carnival is great for little ones...

  • The kids' club takes kids as young as two
  • When you leave young children in the kids' club you get a pager in case you need to be contacted
  • Evening activities are available until 10pm for kids aged 2-5
  • There are designated play times for children under 2 on sea days, accompanied by parents they can explore the toys provided
  • Dining rooms have kids’ menus, milk, activity books and crayons
  • Carnival’s standard cabins are pretty large, with some sleeping up to 5 people.
  • The Cartoon Network is available on in-room televisions
  • Single and double buggies are available to hire

Any negatives?

  • No in-cabin babysitting is available. Children two and older can be babysat in the kids club until 3am, but they will be among older children watching movies.
  • Children who are not toilet trained and are wearing swimming nappies are not allowed in any of the pools
  • Baby food and formula cannot be bought on board, and they won’t puree food for you

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean babies

Why Royal Caribbean is great for little ones…

  • Royal Babies and Royal Tots nurseries offer daytime and evening childcare for babies as young as 6 months, for an additional fee of $8 per hour
  • Playgroups are available for parents to attend with under-3s
  • Under-3s can borrow Fisher-Price toys to play with in their staterooms and books from the ship’s library
  • Children over 2 can drive Barbie Jeeps on Oasis and Freedom class ships
  • Babysitting is available in your staterooms between 8am and 2am at a cost of $19 per hour for up to three children
  • Oasis and Freedom class ships offer inside cabins that sleep up to six people and suites that sleep up to 14
  • In-room televisions offer three kids’ TV channels including Boomerang and the Cartoon Network
  • Children wearing swimming nappies can play in the specially designed Baby Splash Zone which can be found on Freedom and Oasis class ships

The negatives…

  • The free kids’ club is only available to children aged 3 and over
  • Children who are not toilet trained are not allowed in the ship’s pools, hot tubs or the H2O Zone

MSC Cruises

MSC babies

Why MSC Cruises are great for little ones…

  • MSC is the only cruise line to have no minimum age for babies. For most others it’s 6 months or 1 year depending on the itinerary
  • Children sail for free on selected sailings
  • There’s a playgroup available for under-3s during certain times, when accompanied by parents
  • One and two year olds can be left in the kids club between 1pm and 2pm and 6pm and 7pm each day

Any negatives?

  • The kids’ club is only available to children aged 3 and over
  • Babysitting isn’t available
  • Children who are not toilet trained are not allowed in any of the pools

If you're travelling with small children, it's important that you make sure that everything about your cruise matches your needs. This is where our cruise concierge team can help. We can find the best family deals, ensure you book the right cabin type and answer all your questions about cruising with children. Just give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

Cruising from the UK is a great option for people enjoying cruises in Europe, around the Mediterranean or even further afield. When it comes to convenience and cost, it can't be beaten. But how many of these little-known facts about UK cruising were you aware of?

There’s a wider choice of cruises than ever before

Emerald Princess

The number of cruises departing from the UK is increasing every year, with record numbers of passengers departing from UK shores . The cruise lines are keen to meet this demand, sending more and more of their best ships on exciting new itineraries.

International cruise line Princess Cruises have announced that 2018 will be their biggest year yet for cruises from the UK – with over 1 million cruise nights available. Embracing all things British, their flagship, Royal Princess, will offer cruises around the UK with overnight stays in Dublin, Glasgow and Edinburgh. They’ll also have a host of other new itineraries available, including cruises from Dover which call at some of the most popular capital cities in Europe.

You have a choice of ports to cruise from

cruise-liverpool

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the port of Southampton is your only option when taking a cruise from the UK. It’s true that a whopping 90% of passengers set sail from Southampton when departing from the UK, but there are other options available.

The London Cruise Terminal, located in Tilbury, is a popular choice for cruisers living in the capital. Those living in the North East of England may opt for Newcastle International Cruise Terminal. When heading to Northern Europe, you can save a day’s sailing each way compared to travelling from the South.

A variety of smaller ports offer cruises from the UK too, including departures from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It’s cheaper than a fly-cruise

schooner-bar-1200x628

As you don’t need to pay for a flight, the majority of cruises from the UK will come at a cheaper cost than a fly-cruise. Great news for those on a budget, you can often get UK cruises for under £500 per person. When you consider how much you’d spend on accommodation, food and entertainment on a week-long hotel break in the UK, a cruise can be a much cheaper option.

You have no restrictions on luggage

luggage 

If your cruise doesn’t include flights, you can generally bring as much luggage as you like! But before you get carried away with the packing, remember that you’ll need to store your cases in your stateroom, and depending on which grade you book, space may be limited. Also, if you’re planning on travelling by car, taxi or coach, you’ll need to make sure that your cases can fit.

Most of your fellow passengers will be Brits

carnival-pool-couple

If you prefer the company of fellow Brits whilst on holiday, then a cruise departing from the UK is the way to go, as you’ll find that the majority of passengers tend to be British. Exceptions to this may be cruises around the UK itself, which are popular with other nationalities, especially Americans, who like to explore the UK and enjoy our rich history.

The proportion of UK cruisers to other nationalities on-board will vary by cruise line. Some cruise lines, such as MSC Cruises, are popular with Europeans who may board the ship at various points along the itinerary. If you’re determined that you’d prefer British cruisers on your ship – opt for P&O cruises – this British-owned cruise line sells the vast majority of its cruises to Brits. You’ll even find a 94-metre Union Flag painted on the bow of most ships.

You can have two holidays in one

Stonehenge

Cruising from the UK gives you the option to create your own personalised cruise and stay holiday – and take advantage of the attractions that our homeland offers. Close to Southampton you’ll find the historic monuments of Stonehenge, the New Forest National Park with its wild ponies and the beautiful the Isle of Wight to name but a few. Those travelling with children could take the opportunity to visit Peppa Pig World or the seaside town of Bournemouth.

If you’re travelling a distance by car to start your cruise, you might opt to break up the journey with an overnight hotel stay or two along the way. Visit a new city, or admire the rolling countryside views, the UK is your oyster!

You can get fly-cruise packages on cruises sailing from the UK

Flight

When sailing from Southampton, you'll need to consider how to get to the port. If you live a few hundred miles away, flying to Southampton Airport could be a cheaper option than driving or taking the train.

Here at Cruise118, we have a team of dedicated cruise concierge who can put together a package cruise holiday that's tailored to your needs. So if you'd like to get a price that included flights from your local airport to the city that your cruise departs from, be sure to mention this when you call, and we'll help you weigh up the options.

For expert advice on choosing and booking your cruise, please give us a call on 0207 980 2847 and our expert cruise concierge team will be happy to help.

If you've never cruised before, choosing and booking your cruise can seem like a minefield. With hundreds of ships and destinations to choose from, how do you even know where to start? Firstly, relax. This handy guide will tell you everything you need to know....

1. Choose your destination

The first step is to decide where you want to go, and the world's your oyster here, will virtually everywhere accessible by cruise ship. The most popular cruise destination is the Mediterranean, so this could be a good choice for your first cruise, particularly if you don't have a huge budget. The second most popular destination is the Caribbean - great for anyone wanting sunshine during the winter months. Other destinations we would recommend are the Norwegian Fjords, and Dubai & the Emirates.

Grand Turk

2. Decide if you want to fly

For those who prefer not to fly, there's plenty of choice when it comes to departures from the UK. Southampton is a very busy cruise port, and most cruises from the UK will depart from here, although regional departures are also available.

Not flying can be easier as you can drive to the ship. However, it can mean that part of your cruise is spent 'getting there' and you might not have the best weather during this time. Flying to start your cruise from somewhere like Barcelona, Miami or Abu Dhabi can open up a much wider choice of destinations and mean that you enjoy good weather from day one.

Fly-Cruise

3. Set your budget

As with anything, you get what you pay for when it comes to cruising. It's vital to consider what's included in your cruise. A cheap deal might seem like a good option, but when you add in the cost of drinks, speciality dining, excursions, port parking or airport transfers, and gratuities, it can all add up to more than you thought.

Often cruise lines offer deals that include all-inclusive drinks, free money to spend on-board or other free extras. Some of the luxury cruise lines include things like drinks, excursions and gratuities as standard.

Here at Cruise118, we have a dedicated Cruise Concierge team who can help find the best cruise for your budget, factoring in everything that's included or not. Just give us a call on 0207 980 2847 if you'd like any help with this.

Celebrity Drinks

4. Decide when to go

When travelling in Europe, you'll probably be aware of the weather - summer is hot, winter is cooler. But if you're considering travelling further afield, the seasons can get more complex, with hurricane seasons, wet and humid seasons, and rough seas to consider. Hot weather isn't always a good thing, when you consider that places like Dubai can reach 50°C at certain times of the year.

You may want to book your cruise to tie in with certain events, such as the Monaco Grand Prix, Christmas and New Year, or a special birthday or anniversary. If the date is important to you, we suggest booking as far in advance as you can, as popular dates often sell out quickly.

kids in summer

5. Choose your cruise line

The different cruise lines have very different offerings, and each is suited to a certain type of person looking for a certain type of holiday. It's important to choose the right cruise line for you, if you want to avoid feeling like a square peg in a round hole.

If you like huge ships with a never-ending choice of activities to keep the whole family entertained, Royal Caribbean is a good choice. If you prefer to relax in 5-star luxury, then a Celebrity cruise may be for you. If you prefer traditional British cruising, P&O Cruises have a good offering, but if you don't mind many different nationalities on-board your ship, MSC Cruises may be worth considering as they can be quite cheap. If you like the idea of small intimate ships with everything included, the there are several ultra-luxury cruise lines that are worth considering.

Harmony of the Seas

6. Choose your ship

Once you've selected a cruise line that's right for you, you can pick a ship. As a general rule, the newest ships in the fleet are the largest and have the best facilities. So if you've chosen Royal Caribbean because you love the idea of travelling on a 'floating city' with the North Star observation pod, on-board sky-diving and massive water slides, you'll want to make sure that the ship you choose has all these facilities, as only the newest ships will.

Cruise ships are generally renovated every few years, so the age of the ship won't have any impact on the decor. But you will find that cruises on older ships can be much cheaper, just because the newest ships have a lot of hype around them.

MSC Seaside

7. Choose your stateroom

Staterooms, or cabins, come in all shapes and sizes. The advertised price of most cruises in based on an inside stateroom. These are the smallest cabins, and may be a good choice if you don't plan on spending much time in your room. Upgrading to an outside cabin, which also has a window, can be a good idea, as it's nice to be able to look out and see what the weather's like. You might want to check other details though, such as whether the window is a big picture window, or just a porthole over the bed, and whether the stateroom is any larger than an inside cabin.

The next grade up is a balcony stateroom. Your balcony can be a wonderful place to relax, sitting out and enjoying the wonderful ocean views, so these can be a good investment. Above this, various levels of suites are available, which offer additional space and facilities.

For families, interconnecting staterooms are often available. If there are more than four in your party, you'll need two rooms. These can sell out quite quickly on certain cruises, so larger families should definitely consider booking in advance.

Royal Loft Suite

8. Decide when to book

As a general rule, sooner is better. You'll have the full range of dates, destinations and acommodation to choose from. Most cruise lines will also offer incentives for early booking, ranging from discounts and on-board credit, to free drinks, internet and speciality dining.

If you don't mind where and when you go, you can sometimes find good last minute deals too. Cruise lines don't want the ships to sail empty, so they sometimes reduce the prices of selected sailings closer to departure. However, you should still book a few weeks in advance, or you may miss the boat, quite literally!

9. Choose your excursions

When you've decided on an itinerary, you can think about what you want to do at each port of call. Whilst you may be able to step off the ship and have a wonder around from certain ports, there are others where you'll want to arrange a coach to take you to see or do something exciting. Excursions can be booked with your cruise line on-board the ship, but these can be expensice. A better option would be to book with a reputable excursion specialist such as CruisingExcursions.com.

Snorkelling excursion

10. Get some help

With so much to consider compared to booking a regular land-based holiday, it can pay to speak to someone who's been there and done it all before. Granted, you'll want to do some of the research yourself, but speaking to an expert can make sure that you avoid some of the pitfalls and get yourself the best deal on your cruise.

Here at Cruise118, we have a team of expert cruise concierge who will be happy to assist in every aspect of planning your cruise, right through to departure and when you return home. They also have access to deals and prices that are not available anywhere else. If you have questions about cruising, or even if you'd like someone to arrange the whole thing for you, please give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

On the whole, drinks on cruise ships cost about the same as they do in high street bars. Naturally, there'll be some variation between the cruise lines, but none of them charge extortionate amounts for drinks, so you don't have to worry about being a 'captive market' on-board.  Some drinks are in fact very reasonable, which can be a pleasant surprise, particularly to anyone who lives in London or is used to the prices you'll find there!

Your cruise ship drinks menu may be priced in either Pounds, Dollars or Euros, depending on the cruise line and destination. For ease, we've converted all the prices to Pounds, and priced up a round of drinks on-board. As you'll see, how much change you'll get from £20 varies from £8 to nothing.

The price of a round of drinks

Bottle of beer Glass of wine Spirit and mixer Soft drink Total for the round
Cruise & Maritime Voyages £2.80 £3.20 £3.95 £2.05 £12.00
Fred.Olsen Cruises £3.25 £3.95 £3.75 £2.00 £12.95
P&O Cruises £2.95 £4.25 £4.25 £1.50 £12.95
Holland America Line £3.06 £4.49 £3.88 £1.59 £13.02
Celebrity Cruises £4.49 £4.49 £4.49 £2.04 £15.50
MSC Cruises £2.59 £4.03 £6.92 £2.42 £15.96
Norwegian Cruise Line £4.49 £5.10 £4.90 £1.71 £16.20
Cunard £4.49 £5.10 £5.51 £2.24 £17.34
Princess Cruises £4.04 £5.51 £6.49 £1.59 £17.63
Royal Caribbean £4.49 £8.16 £5.71 £2.04 £20.40

Are all-inclusive cruises available?

Yes, most cruise lines offer drinks packages, which can convert your cruise from full-board to all-inclusive for a fixed price.

There are usually several different drinks packages available, so it's important to consider what's included in each, to work out what will give you the best value for money. Your Cruise Concierge will be able to advise you about the various drinks packages that are available when you book. Or you can call us now on 0207 980 2847 for more information.

Are drinks packages good value for money?

We've worked out how many drink you need to drink per day to make your drinks package pay for itself. The results are a bit shocking!

How can I get free drinks?

Cruise lines often offer free drinks packages as an incentive to get you to book your cruise with them. These deals aren't on all the time, but it's worth keeping an eye out for these promotions, as they can save you hundreds! Our Cruise Concierge team will be able to advise you of any offers that are currently available.

If you'd like any more information about drinks on your cruise, please don't hesitate to give our Cruise Concierge team a call on 0207 980 2847.

Most cruise lines offer the option of adding on a drinks package, either when you book, or when you board the ship. Purchasing this will turn your cruise from full-board to all-inclusive, which can be a great option for people who like to drink as much as they like, without worrying about the bar tab.

When deciding whether a drinks package is right for you, it's important to consider how many drinks you plan to drink to know whether it's worth it or whether you should just add your individual drinks on to your cruise bill.

The Top Drinks Packages by Cruise Line

These are the packages which include any drinks you like (beers, wines, cocktails, spirits, soft drinks, tea and coffee). Note that cheaper drinks packages may also be available for a reduced selection of drinks e.g. beer and wine only or soft drinks only.

Celebrity Drinks

Royal Caribbean

Deluxe Beverage Package - £53 per day

Bottle of beer = $5.50. You need to drink 12 beers per day!

Glass of wine = $10.00. You need to drink 7 wines per day!

Celebrity Cruises

Premium Package - £52 per day

Bottle of beer = $5.50. You need to drink 12 beers per day!

Glass of wine = $5.50. You need to drink 12 wines per day!

Norwegian Cruise Line

The Ultimate Beverage Package - £65 per day

Bottle of beer = $5.50. You need to drink 15 beers per day!

Glass of wine = $6.25. You need to drink 13 wines per day!

MSC Cruises

All-Inclusive Deluxe Drink Package - £37 per day

Bottle of beer = €2.90. You need to drink 15 beers per day!

Glass of wine = €4.50. You need to drink 10 wines per day!

 

Can anyone drink that much???

And more to the point, is it medically advisable? You'd be right to think that drinking 15 beers or 13 glasses of wine every single day of your cruise is a terrible idea. Especially when you consider that most days you'll be ashore all day so you'd have to fit that number of drinks just into the evening.

It's important to consider...

  • Your drinks package also includes soft drinks, water, teas and coffees. Have one of each of these and you're already on £10.
  • If you like spirits and cocktails, these can be quite expensive. With Royal Caribbean's cocktails costing $12 each, you'd only need to drink 6 of these to get your money's worth.
  • If you spent £10 on a cocktail and it was really small, all ice or you just didn't like it, you'd be very disappointed. When they're all included, you can just order a different one!
  • Not having to think about the cost of drinks is very relaxing. When the drinks man comes round the pool with his tray of cocktails shouting 'medication for your vacation?', you'll be glad that your cruise is all-inclusive.

We recommend these options...

  • Weight up the costs of the cheaper packages. If you mostly drink beers, wines or soft drinks, the top package which includes spirits and cocktails probably isn't right for you. Ask your Cruise Concierge about the various options available when you book.
  • Get a free drinks package! Cruise lines often offer incentives to get you to book with them, with free drinks packages available when you book during promotional periods. Looking out for these can save you hundreds. Your Cruise Concierge can advise you further.

If you'd like help in finding a cruise with a free drinks package, or would like more information about all-inclusive cruises, our Cruise Concierge team will be happy to help. Just give us a call on 0207 980 2847.