You have decided to go on a cruise.
Great, you have taken the first step on your cruise journey towards a fantastic holiday!
But there are a few points to keep in mind and remember before booking that cruise as these can impact on your experience and your trip in general.
Make sure you read this before pressing the BOOK button!
What is it that you want from a cruise? Do you seek relaxation and just a bit of sun? Do you want to emerge in culture? Do you want to see glaciers and wildlife?
What do you want to see during your cruise?
The cruise industry has expanded immensely over the past years and ships nowadays go to more or less all the continents. There are plenty of great destinations to choose from!
2. PORT TIMINGS
Once you selected your itinerary, I would also recommend checking how much time you have in each port. This is important to plan your sightseeing activity around the limited time you will have.
Sometimes you can have the entire day and late evening in one port, other times maybe only five hours or so. Hence, it is essential to know how much time you have so you can plan your sightseeing day accordingly.
Some of us, I know I did, forget about the weather when we book a cruise. I mean of course you expect the weather to be hot when you go to the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and so on.
BUT, what about the days at sea that it takes to get there?
Last year in October, I travelled from Southampton, UK to the Canary Islands and only the days I was in the Canary Islands were warm. The days at sea, the stops in mainland Spain and Portugal were rather chilly and I was not able to relax and spend time on the outer decks on those days as it was simply too cold and windy. Hence, most of my cruise was spend indoors, but this was not how I pictured it to be.
4. TIME OF YEAR
Is your cruise during the summer or winter months? Are there any public holidays? Are you travelling during Hurricane or rainy season? Is there a major event happening while you are there? If you are travelling to see wildlife, is this the best time to see it?
All these are valid questions that need to be considered.
5. DAYS AT SEA
Some itineraries have a good mix of sea and port days and others do not.
For example, in the Mediterranean there are less sea days as the ports are all close by and can be reached within hours. However, if you travel from mainland US to Hawaii, it takes a few days to get there and back. So, you will have a lots of sea days and often a few in a row.
There are people that can stay in the sun and read a book all day long. Those might enjoy the itineraries with plenty of sea days. Others might get bored though if they have three sea days in a row.
Before you book a cruise, make sure you can go to the destinations as some itineraries require a visa. This is of course different for every nationality and some nationalities are more restricted than others.
Also, some visa applications are more time consuming and challenging than others eg. visa for Russia or India. You have to be able to obtain the visa in a timely manner. Otherwise boarding can be and most of the times will be denied to you.
Some itineraries may include port stops in several countries. Always check if you need a visa for all of those countries. Just because you do not need one for country A, does not mean you do not need one for country B.
It is always best to be safe than sorry as this could ruin your entire holiday.
7. CRUISE LINE
If you are new to cruising, you might have noticed that there are plenty of cruise lines out there that want your business. They all have something to offer, but they are also all different.
Do a bit of research before you book and do not just go by the itinerary or the price. If you are a German speaker and you have no clue about English, Hapag Lloyd, AIDA or Mein Schiff are the go to lines as the on board language is German.
If you like high end, intimate, luxury cruises with Butler Service maybe Silversea or Seabourn are for you.
You are planning a cruise for the family with your small children? Maybe Disney Cruise Line should be on your list or one of the bigger cruise lines such as Norwegian and Carnival.
You get the point.
8. EXPEDITION, OCEAN OR RIVER CRUISE
There are loads of different types of cruises. Most known are of course the ocean cruises to destinations such as the Caribbean, the Med or even now more exotic destinations including South East Asia.
However, in recent years other forms of cruising such as Expedition and River have experienced an increase in demand and availability and are worth considering as well as they have something different to offer.
FINAL THOUGHTS …
Hopefully you find these tips useful and they will help you to avoid some of the mistakes and pitfalls I experienced.
If you have any more points to take into consideration please let me know. I am keen to know.
Some of my other posts that you may find of interest and helpful when it comes to booking a cruise are:
- My Top 3 Reasons Why Everyone Should Try A Cruise
- Choosing Your Perfect Cabin
- Requirements You Should Tell The Cruise Line Before Your Trip