Beginners' cruising questions answered

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Want to dip your toe in the waters of cruising but not sure what to expect? YOURLifeChoices answers your cruising questions.

Q. Polly
I have heard a lot about cruising holidays and am keen to give it a go but how do I know I will like it?

A. Polly, it’s difficult to know if you will enjoy cruising without giving it a go. If you’re open minded about trying new things, meeting new people and seeing new places in bite sized chunks, then cruising should be the kind of holiday that you would enjoy. More often than not, it’s the misconceptions about cruising which put people off. YOURLifeChoices has debunked the most common myths about cruising to give you the confidence to get onboard and give it a try.

Q. James
Is there a short cruise, which won’t cost the earth, which I could try before committing to something longer?

A. James, cruising is becoming so popular with Australian holidaymakers that companies are offering many options for those who wish to stay closer to home but try something a little different. Where you are located in Australia, may dictate which cruise option suits you best as you may not wish to add the cost of a flight or other travel to your holiday. Some of the options around Australia are:

· Seven days cruising the Kimberleys on a small craft (about 18 people). Kimberley Cruises has specials on several cruises over the next few months.
· Seven days cruising to New Zealand is a great way to go overseas and see several of New Zealand’s picturesque cities. New Zealand Cruises depart from Sydney and offer discounts for different occupations.
· Three nights cruising the Great Barrier Reef is the perfect taster cruise, travelling from Townsville to Cairns or vice versa on the Coral Princess.

Q. Jane
There are many cruises on offer so how can I choose which one suits my needs best?

A. Jane, it’s all down to personal preference, how long you wish to be away for, where you wish to visit and of course, how much you have to spend. YOURLifeChoices have a few useful tips to steer you in the right direction.

Q. Tom
I suffer from sea sickness and this makes me vary about cruising, even though I love the idea. Does my seasickness make cruising an impossibility?

A. Tom, going on holiday only to suffer terrible sickness would be a real tragedy however, most large passenger liners are so stable, you wouldn’t even know you were on the water. Sea sickness is also something which usually disappears once your body has acclimatised to the motion of the boat. There are further steps you can take until your body is used to the motion of the ocean:

Book a mid-ship cabin where you will experience the least amount of motion
Get plenty of fresh air
Drink plenty of water
Keep vertical, you will be more prone to feeling the motion of the sea when you’re lying down
Getting involved in activities will help keep your mind off the feelings of dizziness and nausea
Walking around will help combat the effects of the motion of the sea
Eat little and often – light meals will be easier to keep down then a full-on three course meal

If these tricks don’t help, there will be an experienced physician on board who will have many clever cures for sea sickness.

Q. Betty
Can you give me any tips for cruising as a single?

A. Betty, as a single cruising can be one of the best types of holidays with so many activities available in which you can get involved. Many singles choose cruising as a way of seeing the world and meeting new people. One thing to keep in mind is your own personal safety. When you disembark at a port, make sure you tell someone where you plan on going and if possible, leave a contact number, such as a mobile. If you can, sight see as part of a group.

Also, it’s great to be open and take people at face value but keep your wits about you and don’t trust your new best friend just because they say you should. Exercise the same caution which you would when meeting any new friends.

Singles are often asked to pay a supplement when travelling and cruising is no different. Some travel agencies will offer hosted trips, gathering together a group of people who are happy to share a bunk with a fellow traveller. You may also wish to consider posting a Personal Ad on YOURLifeChoices and hopefully you can find a like-minded traveller with whom you can meet before you set sail.

Q. Wendy
I would like to see as much on Canada as possible. Is there a package which covers land and cruising?

A. Wendy, while Canada is such a huge land mass, it is also home to some of the most beautiful rivers in the world. Its close proximity to Alaska, also makes it a very popular cruising destination. You may wish to cruise around the coast, cruise across the north of the country or combine rail journeys with river cruises to see the best of this amazing country. Canadian Tourism have a super website which highlight the best sights of Canada and how best to enjoy them. This is a great place to start, work out where you want to go and get advice on some of the cruising packages on offer. For more information, take a look at the Welcome to Canada website.

Q. John
I have saved up to go on the cruise of a lifetime and would like to make sure my wardrobe is suitable for the occasion. Which items should I pack?

A. John, It’s a good idea to pack as you would for any resort holiday. Cruise holidays are casual by day, whether you’re on the ship or ashore. Ships often offer the opportunity to dress for dinner and some will even have formal or black-tie nights while onboard. At the Captain’s Gala, for example, you’ll probably want to wear something more formal, such as a dark suit or a cocktail dress for the ladies, perhaps even a dinner jacket or gown. Think about where you intend to visit when on shore and if in doubt, ask your travel specialist what type of cruise ship you will be on, they will be able to advise how dressy you need to be.

Q. Joan
I would like to take my grandchildren on a cruise. Are there any that are age-appropriate for children?

A. Joan, cruise holidays are the only kind where everyone in the family is able to enjoy a break! Most cruise lines provide supervised activities for youngsters, especially during school holidays. If your grandchildren enjoy swimming, sports, games, movies and the adventure of new places, they’ll love a family cruise. You’ll find that children adapt to shipboard life with ease, the youth counsellors will help keep them busy and entertained and you won’t need to wonder what they’re up to every minute. Ships even offer youth “clubs” that cater to all ages with age-specific activities, from toddlers to teens. Best of all, children generally travel at a reduced rate.

Q. David
Is everything included in the cost of a cruise? Cruising seems expensive but if I have nothing else to pay for, then it may not be such a bad deal.

A. David, cruising offers a great value holiday option and there are cruise holidays to suit every budget. Your cruise fare includes your accommodation, meals, onboard activities and entertainment, plus your transportation from port to port. Some cruise lines also include much more, for a higher price, so speak to your travel agent about which will suit you and make sure you get a definitive list of what is included and what is not before you sign on the line and pay any money.

Q. Mary
I want to make my holiday budget stretch as far as I can. How can I get a good deal on my cruise holiday? Is there a best time to go or book?

A. Mary, some destinations, for example Antarctica and Alaska, have defined seasons and are only accessible in the summer. The best time to travel depends on the destination and your own tastes but the earlier you can book, the better the chances are of getting a great deal and securing the cabin you’d prefer. Remember to shop around and compare.

Q. Geoff
Are there any traps or pitfalls I should be wary of when booking my cruising holiday?

A. Geoff, probably the biggest pitfall to watch out for is not getting enough time to do what you want to do and see what you want to see. Some port stays can be short, leaving you feel a little cheated. If this is your first cruise, you want to make sure that the experience is a good one. You will also want to make sure you’re getting good value for money so shop around and ask exactly what is included and what is not.

Some unfortunate passengers have reached the end of their cruise only to be handed a very large bar tab! Speak with an expert who can advise you on the right cruise for you, check out forums to see what other people have said and always take out good travel insurance before you go!

Q. Terry
If I start my cruise but become ill, can I get treatment?

A. Almost all cruise ships (except for some smaller vessels that operate in coastal waters) have a fully equipped medical facility onboard and staff capable of handling almost any emergency. It’s always a good idea to ensure your travel insurance will cover the cost of any medical treatment you may need while at sea or ashore. For a competitive travel insurance quote, click to see the YOURLifeChoices travel insurance offers.

To find an accredited cruising specialist, contact the International Cruise Council Australasia.

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Total Comments: 1
  1. 0

    If your cruise offers a drinks package (the one I’m going on does) it could be a good idea to pay that in advance. It offers unlimited drinks (apart from specialty spirits) so no big bar tab at the end of your journey. I’m also going to pre-pay some of the shore excursions. However, I will leave my options open on most of the ports of call.



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