Cruise holidays can be exceptional value for money, and with ships ranging from basic to six star, there’s something out there today to suit all budgets and tastes. So how do you make sure that you end up with the trip of a lifetime, rather than a holiday from hell? The key thing is to do your research and consider these five top tips.
Where and when to cruise?
The first thing to decide is where you want to cruise, remembering that the further you travel to join a ship, the more expensive it will likely be, mainly because of the cost of flights. Also, while some regions are available for year-round cruising, many destinations have ‘seasons’. While you can explore the Caribbean and Australia at any time of year, for example, you can’t cruise in Alaska, Antarctica or northern Europe during their winter months.
How long to cruise?
Next, you need to decide how long you want to be on the high seas, as cruises can range from two-night jaunts to nowhere, to world cruises lasting 90-plus days. The safest option is to opt for a five-day to one-week itinerary, as this allows you enough time to get into the ‘swing of things’ with cruising, and enjoy some ports of call, as well as the onboard facilities.
Big ship, small ship
Size definitely matters when it comes to cruise ships, especially for new cruisers. As a rule, five-star luxury is mainly found on mid-sized or smaller ships, while the bonus of bigger vessels is more facilities, including restaurants. For anyone susceptible to seasickness however, a larger ship is a safer option, as they tend to be more stable.
Couples-focussed or families?
Many of today’s big ships are built with families in mind, offering plenty of kid-specific facilities. Although these ships are less busy with junior cruisers outside of school holidays, if you’re focussed on a more quiet time at sea, look towards small to medium ships aimed at the couples’ market.
Finally, be sure to check the cruise fare, as they almost always quote ‘per person’, not per room like hotels and resorts. Also remember that on many cruises you will have to pay extra for soft drinks, premium coffees, alcohol, tips, and sightseeing trips, and single cruisers may have to pay a single supplement to enjoy their own room.