There’s never been a better time to take the plunge and book your first cruise holiday. Whether you’re a cruise virgin or an old hand at high seas holidays, finding the right cruise at a great price online can be challenging. Here are our top tips on how to go about it.
1. Finalise your budget
Your budget should include the cost of the cruise, any flights or visas you might need, and spending money. Most ships are not ‘all-inclusive’ except at the luxury end of the scale, so you will need to account for extras, including shore excursions, soft drinks, alcohol and more. The type of stateroom you choose will also be a major factor in your budget, with inside accommodation costing less than anything with an ocean view.
2. Choose where to cruise
There are many places in the world where you can cruise. However, some destinations, such as Alaska, have seasons, while others, such as Europe’s rivers, can be enjoyed year-round. Another determining factor on where to cruise will be the weather and the type of cruising experience you’re seeking – whether it’s a beach-type holiday or something more cultural with sightseeing.
3. Check out cruise lines and ships
If you can’t decided between two locations, working out which ships go to those locations, the dates of the cruises and the difference in fares can help. Also remember that not all ships are equal; different types of ships within a single cruise line can make a difference to the number of people on board and the facilities on offer. Study cruise line websites for detailed information and check out ship profiles and reviews on websites, such as CruiseGuide.com.au, to help with the decision process.
4. When to go
Fares can also differ depending on when you want to cruise. Take Alaska, for example, where cruises often cost less during the ‘shoulder season’, which is early May or early September. Consider avoiding peak season, holiday seasons and school holiday periods, which can attract higher prices, with the latter also resulting in more kids on board. Cruising completely off peak in a region can also save you money.
Once you have in mind a specific ship, itinerary and a time to cruise, sign up with your cruise lines of choice and for newsletters from cruise websites, such as CruiseGuide.com.au, and reputable cruise travel agents so you can be kept informed and perhaps score a bargain.
6. Booking online
If you decide to go it alone when booking, check the cost of your cruise directly with the cruise line you’ve chosen, making a note of exactly what’s included in the fare. This includes whether a stateroom number is guaranteed, whether any transfers and flights are included, and payment and cancellation policies. Then compare the same cruise with online travel agencies, again checking exactly what’s included. Remember that booking early or late can also save you money.
To find out more about cruising or to find the cruise of your dreams within your budget, visit CruiseGuide.com.au.