Looking for your first cruise can be a daunting experience, with thousands of cruises out there from many different cruise lines, offering exclusive deals left, right and centre. Finding a cruise that ticks all of your boxes could seem an almost impossible task. But don’t let it sway you away from cruising, there are many steps that you can take to ensure you are getting the best deals on the right cruise.
Taking the leap of faith into the cruising scene can almost seem like a shot in the dark, but this can be easily avoided if you talk to a cruise specialist. Their never-ending cruise knowledge can help you discover the right cruise for you and their first-hand experience is priceless. After a short series of questions, the specialist will be able to pinpoint which cruise line will be perfect for you and suggest some destinations to delve into as well. Obviously, we also suggest doing your own research to explore what’s available and help you pinpoint what you want from your holiday.
If you are still unsure about what might be perfect for you, choosing a taster cruise can be a great way to introduce yourself to the world of cruising. For a reduced price, many operators offer the chance for guests to travel to one or two ports, giving the authentic feel of cruising without having to part ways with a large sum of cash.
During sea days, exploring the ship should be your first port of call. Looking around the ship and getting involved with as many activities and dining options as possible is essential, making sure to tick off all the amenities that you are unsure about. Even booking the lower-end accommodation is recommended, as you’re unlikely to spend much time in your cabin and only spend one or two nights on board.
During your cruise, you will not be alone. Other like-minded cruisers will be waiting to take the same adventure as yourself. This can be a deal breaker for many travellers, with different cruise lines attracting different crowds. For example, Italian cruisers are most likely to be on MSC and Costa ships especially in the Mediterranean, while British cruisers tend to stick with P&O Cruises, Cunard and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines as they are catered towards the Brits.
Age is another factor to think about, with the older generations leaning towards something like Fred. Olsen and the over 50s siding with Saga. If you are looking to avoid children, you might want to refrain from sailing during the holidays or look for an adults-only ship such as P&O Cruises’ Arcadia.
Choosing a cabin position is of higher importance than you might initially think, making sure that you are near to all the action but not too close as to keep you awake at night. One of the best rules is to stay close to the centre but far from any night spots or discos, as if you are looking for an early night, you might not get one. On the other hand, being too low down can cause you to hear unwanted engine noise.
Picking areas that are close to the dining venues is not an issue as most restaurants will be relatively quiet during the night time. Plus, if you are likely to stay in a lower grade cabin, most cruise lines will pre-warn customers of the potential for some minor engine noise in a certain room before booking. Another reason to grab a stateroom/suite close to the centre is the natural sway of the ship during rougher seas. Even though most ships are relatively stable, if you are in the centre you are less likely to feel the ocean sway.
Finally, the minefield of drinks packages. Selecting what is good and what you might get the most out of is difficult, but as a typical ‘rule of thumb’, consider the number of sea days, as you are more likely to make use of the ‘extra’ drinks on board during these.
On the other hand, if you are planning to spend a lot of time ashore, eating out and exploring, you might want to keep the extra money for drinks in port. You will need to check what is included in the package as some cruise lines don’t include premium spirits and you might want to compare what you would receive normally against the deal. Drinks packages are usually quite cheap, ranging from around $15-$59 per person per night.
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