Regardless of your spending limit, there are ways to make the absolute most of your cruising dollar. Jeremy Bourke has some suggestions that will help to get you started.
When you look at what’s included in your fare – accommodation, meals and onboard activities – cruising is great value. You can still have an amazing holiday on a modest budget by carefully choosing your destination, ship and berth.
Competition is great for the consumer, so start with places where there are lots of players. Many big companies cruise from Australia to New Zealand and the Pacific, and offer fantastic ports.
And consider sticking to bigger ships, as they have more options in terms of food, activities and cabins. An outside stateroom, especially with a balcony, is nice but never essential, since you’re usually only in it to shower and sleep. So, save your cash and opt for an internal cabin. Even on full ships, you can still find a quiet place to yourself in the library or a lounge.
Perhaps you’ve tried cruising before and want to take it up a level, or you’ve heard that a little more cash delivers a much greater experience? If so, this is when you opt for the balcony cabin, plan a few spa treatments, sample the extra-cost restaurants and do a bit of damage to the shore excursion list.
You could also be more adventurous by flying overseas to pick up a ship in, say, Hong Kong to cruise China, or Vancouver for the Inside Passage to Alaska. You could also try cruising the Caribbean out of Florida, diving into the fjords of Norway or taking the unique Aranui in Tahiti. And if you can cope with really rough water, consider heading to Antarctica via Argentina.
The sky’s the limit
If you really want to splurge, there are ships and itineraries that can show you an incredible level of service and spectacle – usually in places that the big cruise liners can’t visit.
In Australia, it starts with the Kimberley Coast route, which is served by small purpose-built ships that take you right up to incredible waterfalls and unique coastal formations. You can even take helicopters from the ship to rock art sites.
An all-inclusive ship, as the name suggests, means everything is paid for – wine and spirits (premium brands excluded), gratuities and caviar parties on a beach, lessons with a professional golfer and even the services of a butler. Companies specialising in such luxury experiences include Crystal, Seabourn, SilverSea and Regent Seven Seas.
If you have time as well as money, you may wish to consider a round-the-world cruise. Given you’ll be on board for 100 days or more, you’ll want a suite if only to hang all of your clothes – including the designer threads you find in the boutiques on board.