Traveling via cruise ship is one of the best ways to see the world, but there is a lot to think about when planning a cruise, especially if it’s your first time. From picking a destination that interests you, finding the right cruise line, booking transfers, and everything in between, here is a list of things for you to consider when booking your next trip, regardless if you’re a first-time cruiser or a world voyage expert.
WHEN TO GO
Cruises are different from regular air travel since some itineraries are only offered at certain times throughout the year because of unpredictable weather and rough seas. For example,cruises to Alaskatake place from spring to early fall when the weather is warm and you have a good chance of catching a glacier calving. Some of these amazing destinations are stunning to enjoy cruise trips: – Amsterdam, Dover – Dunkirk/Calais, Newhaven – Dieppe, Oslo – Frederikshavn – Copenhagen, Klaipeda – Kiel, Klaipeda – Karlshamn and Paldiski – Kapellskar.
GETTING TO AND FROM YOUR START/END PORT
Depending on where you live, getting to your embarkation port might take some time, effort, and money. Will you have to book a flight? Is it close enough for you to drive, and if so where will you park your vehicle? Could you take another mode of transportation, like a bus or train? Better yet, if you know someone in the area, could they pick you up or drop you off?
Hinging on how much time you have available, it probably isn’t worthwhile to spend two whole days in transit flying halfway across the globe for a cruise that is less than a week.
If you’re flying you will have to find a way to get from the airport to the cruise ship pier and vice versa. All cruise lines offer an airport transfer service, which you can book for an additional cost. You will have to decide whether reserving a transfer or hiring a taxi would be more economical. This information can be easily found on the port’s website.
DOES THE DESTINATION ACTUALLY INTEREST YOU?
There would be nothing worse than booking a cruise solely because the price dropped to 50% and then discovering that nothing about that destination interests you at all. Instead put a little bit of research into where you want to go based on what interests you. Otherwise you might feel like you wasted your money and vacation time.
With so many online resources out there today, from personal blogs to travel sites, there’s no reason why you can’t find your dream destination.
IS THE DESTINATION AFFORDABLE AS A CRUISE VACATION?
Cruising is a great way to get a feel for a country, but it certainly doesn’t allow you to the time to sink into the local culture. Most cruises generally give you one day, occasionally two, in each port. This means any Port Excursions you have planned or things you would like to do have to be crammed into a short amount of time.
Consider cost, convenience, and what kind of traveler you want to be. Are you the type of person who wants everything taken care of? Or are you a backpacker who enjoys going where the wind blows you? Would you rather book a cruise, which has all meals and accommodation included, but keeps you stuck to a set schedule, or would you enjoy booking a flight, hotel, and rental car so that you could explore your destination based on your own time frame. And which option costs more?
FOOD AND DRINK ONBOARD
All meals, water, coffee, and tea is included in your ticket price on most cruise lines. On luxury cruise lines and certain river cruise lines, alcoholic beverages are also included in the ticket price.
Depending on the size of your ship there are usually one or more large dining rooms open every day at set times for your main meals. Check your daily schedule (delivered to your stateroom each day) for information on the dress code and when formal nights take place on your cruise.
Buffet restaurants are usually open earlier in the morning and later at night, and always go by a casual dress code. Specialty restaurants found on board are available for an extra fee and reservations are generally recommended.
With some cruise lines now featuring theaters at sea that hold more people than theaters on land, you won’t miss out on entertainment. Nightly shows usually have an early and a late show, and performances change on a daily basis. You can expect everything from Broadway musicals, comedians, ventriloquists, to magicians and interesting public speakers.
Laundry facilities are provided on board for an additional fee. Alternatively, self-service coin laundries, which accept the on board currency, are available on certain ships.
FINDING CRUISE DEALS
Once you’ve decided on which cruise line would be a good fit for you, or if you’re still deciding, sign up for the email newsletter on each company’s website. Often times you’ll receive private sale fares or limited time offers before everyone else directly in your inbox. If your travel dates are flexible it’s also a good idea to check for last minute cruise deals online.