Don’t feel out at sea when it comes to choosing a cruise

Dr Tiana Templeman shares her top tips for choosing a cruise that’s right for you.

How to choose your cruise

Travel writer, photographer and author, Dr Tiana Templeman is a Brisbane-based travel author, award-winning freelance journalist, radio presenter and media industry academic. She is the creator of the popular travel website Good to Go and contributes to Australian and overseas media outlets. Tiana also appears on radio talking about where to visit, what to see and travel industry trends.

River or ocean, large or small ship, Australia or overseas: it’s not surprising that choosing a cruise has some travellers feeling all at sea.

Every cruise offers delicious food from dusk until dawn and seemingly endless onshore and onboard entertainment options. However, they also tend to differ when it comes to style and personality as well as the kind of passengers they attract.

While international destinations often come to mind when Australians think of cruising, it can be hard to beat a sailing trip closer to home. No passport is required for Australian sailings, you don’t have to learn a new language and there is no need to buy foreign currency. Local itineraries tend to be cheaper too.

Ocean cruises are available year-round in Australia, but you will find the biggest and best choice of ships during peak cruise season which runs from October to April. Bargains can be found outside the Australian school holiday periods, especially in November and February.

Whether you’re planning an ocean cruise in Australia or overseas, an industry-wide increase in ship sizes combined with the rising popularity of multi-generational cruising means you will probably find yourself onboard a mega-ship, such as Ovation of the Seas sooner rather than later.

‘Guarantee staterooms’ – where the cruise line allocates your cabin – might save money but you don’t want to leave your onboard accommodation choice to chance. If you’re unlucky and end up at the far end of a mega-ship, you could find yourself literally walking for miles. Study the deck plans to see which cabins are close to the elevators or your favourite venues and book your accommodation accordingly.

River cruises are popular with those heading overseas, and they’re not limited to Europe. The Mekong in Vietnam, the Nile in Egypt and the mighty Amazon are ideal for adventurous cruisers who enjoy more active shore excursions and getting off the beaten track.

Keep an eye out for the Early Booking Deals, which are regularly available on river cruise lines. These offer excellent savings and often include free return flights from Australia. While a river cruise can initially seem more expensive than an ocean cruise, sometimes the cheapest deal is not necessarily the best value. With complimentary excursions included at every port and everything from wine to laundry included in the many fares, a river cruise can be a surprisingly cost-effective holiday.

While booking early can be a good idea, significant savings are also available for retirees who can travel at short notice. With thousands of cruise ship cabins to fill around the world, there is sure to be one to suit you at some point during the season. Keep a close eye on trips with good availability, particularly as the departure dates gets closer, as these are prime candidates for deep discounting.

If you have always wanted to try a luxury line such as Cunard, but your holiday budget is smaller than your love of the finer things in life, you can always take a mini-cruise. These can be as short as just two nights or extend to three or even four nights. While a long cruise is always a pleasure, there is also something to be said for boarding a cruise for a good time, not a long time. Whatever your age, you’re never too old to kick up your heels and have fun.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise? Why not share them with our members?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    8th Sep 2018
    One of my prime criteria is the ratio of sea days to in-port days. When cruise I like to cruise not spend every day in different ports paying exorbitant prices for 'excursions'.
    8th Sep 2018
    My money will go to the cruise line which caters for those who want to travel alone, who don't want to share a cabin and other facilities. I don't care how small the cabin is, I won't be spending much time there anyway. But I resent paying double just because I don't have a partner to travel with.
    8th Sep 2018
    Spot on Patti, this discrimination towards single travellers is so annoying
    11th Sep 2018
    You’re spot on Patti. In this world of discrimination-'everything' I resent having to pay double when I only use single...we’re being discriminated against and it’s allowed to happen! I refuse to give the greedy beggars a single supplement!
    10th Sep 2018
    Sometimes the Early Bird gets the cheaper cruise - sometimes the Late Bird.
    Subscribe to a number of cruise lines and travel agents . You will get info almost every day but hidden in there are some real specials ...
    I disagree with the point in the article about local tours from local cruises are cheaper.
    All tours have inflated prices so the cruise line gets their cut .
    You can get cheaper tours - sometimes half the price - on the dock of the place you are visiting. But beware the ship will not wait for you if your privately arranged tour runs late !
    There are places to do it and places not to do it.....
    22nd Nov 2018
    A standout amongst other things about a voyage is the wide assortment of exercises accessible. You can do everything from sit on the deck and appreciate the view to more strenuous exercises like climbing, biking, zip lining, scuba jumping, or other water sports. write my assignment

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles