Sometimes it can seem like there is almost too much choice when it comes to finding your perfect cruise holiday, especially if you are new to the cruising lifestyle, with countless destinations, cruise lines, ships and deals to choose from. To help you out, we’ve picked out some of the hardest choices you’ll have to make when searching for your next cruise holiday, offering some helpful suggestions on how to overcome the problems you are bound to face.
Choosing a cruise line
There are plenty of renowned cruise lines to choose from, each offering unique experiences on-board, often catered towards a specific demographic. It all comes down to the kind of cruise experience that you are looking for.
If you’re after a fun-filled family adventure, with plenty for people of all ages to do on-board, you should consider cruising with family-friendly lines including MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines or Royal Caribbean, all of which boast innovative on-board features including water parks, rock climbing walls and even sky-diving simulators. If a relaxing break within peaceful surrounding is more your sort of thing, then cruise lines such as Cruise & Maritime, P&O Cruises and Holland America Line could be the perfect option, offering on-board experiences tailored to an older age-group.
Deciding on your destination
Choosing a destination is probably one of the most pleasing problems you will encounter when you come to find you next cruise getaway, but with so much choice available to you, it is important to consider exactly what you are looking for from your holiday.
First-time cruisers can’t go wrong with a sun-soaked escape to the golden sandy shores of the Caribbean and Mediterranean – two of the world’s most popular cruise destinations. However, if you are looking to soak up a little more exotic culture, you could consider a voyage to South America or the Far East, while those in such of dramatic scenery may be more inclined to visit the Norwegian Fjords, Australia or even Antarctica. Remember, it’s all about what you want to experience when you set sail.
Selecting a ship and itinerary
Once you’ve chosen your ideal cruise line and destination, there’s still plenty to decide. There’s a lot to consider when selecting a ship and itinerary, including on-board features, potential deals and convenient departure points.
Your ship will define your cruise experiences, so choose wisely. Pick a ship filled with all the facilities that you’ll enjoy the most, whether it’s fun and games on-board or a tranquil place to relax. When you come to pick your itinerary, think carefully about your departure point. Many cruise ships travelling across Europe will depart from British ports including Southampton, Harwich and Rosyth amongst others – perfect for the UK-based cruiser. If however, you are travelling further afield and require an overseas embarkation destination, take into account the cost of flights and transfers within your budget.
Picking your accommodation
You’ll likely have an abundance of options when picking your on-board accommodation, with a host of possible cabins to choose from. Some newer ships have up to 40 suite and stateroom categories, so it is once again important to decide on the kind of living space you require whilst at sea.
If you don’t plan on spending much time in your cabin, it is usually much cheaper to go for a basic Inside, Outside or perhaps Balcony Stateroom. If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious however, why not opt for a suite and benefit from more service as well as added services – perhaps even your own personal butler!
Family-friendly cruise lines also provide larger accommodation to cater for the whole family, such as Royal Caribbean’s two-storey Royal Loft Suite or Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Haven Suites. Most cruise lines also provide accessible accommodation for those with disabilities, so look around and check what’s available before you book too hastily.
Getting a good deal
Finding a great deal on your cruise holiday will allow you a larger budget on-board and in port, so it is always helpful to get a good price on your original fare.
If you’re flexible in terms of your departure date, or even you’re destination and cruise line, you’ll find it much easier to get a good price for your holiday. Last-minute deals and fantastic new offers and incentive – including free drinks, gratuities and on-board spends – are constantly becoming available, so shop around to get the most from your money.
Booking your shore excursions
Anyone with a particular interest in the destinations on their itinerary or anyone who isn’t content simply lazing about all day, should book themselves prearranged shore excursions, to truly experience local culture in each new port. From wine tasting to scuba diving, there are so many unforgettable experiences on offer once you embark.
Although it is possible to book your shore excursion directly with your cruise line, it is often cheaper to secure them through an outside provider such as CruisingExcursions.com. Remember, book your shore excursions early and don’t miss out, as places on the most popular trip will fill up fast.
Get expert advice
When it comes to booking a cruise, there's so much to consider that even seasoned cruisers could benefit from the help of an expert to make sure that you get the best of everything, at the best possible price, whilst avoiding any pitfalls. Here at Cruise118, our dedicated cruise concierge team won't book people onto any old cruise, only the one that's perfect for them. So give us a call on 0207 980 2847 and we'll be happy to help.