Planning a cruise can feel a bit like dipping your toes in uncharted waters (quite literally!), so we’ve created this guide to help you learn more about the cruise holiday scene.
From debunking cruise myths to explaining the different cruise types to introducing you to ‘cruise culture’, this guide will leave you feeling informed and excited about the possibility of embarking on your first cruise.
Imagine checking in to a beautiful hotel, only instead of waking up to the same view every day you get to visit a variety of new cities, regions, and maybe even countries.
That’s what a cruise holiday is like: a
A cruise holiday is a relaxing, unique way to explore new destinations while enjoying a consistent home-base. For many
It’s time to separate cruise fact from cruise fiction.
Right at this moment, there are hundreds of cruise ships roaming the world’s waters, all offering a unique onboard experience. There are large ships with flying foxes and open-air cinemas, small ships with cosy ‘private club’ atmospheres and personalised service, and everything in between. Like hotels, there is everything from Motel 8 to the Four Seasons.
Cruise holidays are popular with travellers of all ages because there is so much variety. Some cruise ships are ideal for families with children (some don’t allow passengers under 18 and have no kids clubs or babysitting services); others are perfect for couples. Solo travellers can also be well catered for.
Expedition and Adventure cruises take passengers to experience Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands and even around our own Southern Pacific waters. For those travellers combining their passions with their holidays, some cruise lines even offer themed experiences focused around food, wine, golf, cycling and more.
Of course, seasickness is a possibility onboard any vessel – but it’s less of a problem on cruises than you might think. Many large cruise ships are equipped with stabilisers which help to minimise the feeling of being at sea. Smaller ships will feel more ocean movement, so you may want to keep this in mind if seasickness is a problem for you. Fortunately, there are many clever tips and tricks to help you minimise the risk of seasickness on any ship such as which room to request on board, or remedies to pack just in case.
With such a variety of cruise lines and cruise ships available, choosing the right itinerary and cruise line will go along way to avoid this.
On smaller ships, cruising through the night to start a new excursion at the next port of call makes each morning a talking point. Discuss history with the onboard expert or settle in for a presentation before starting your walk through a local village. Heading to Antarctica? Absorb the expertise of the crew, discuss sea life with a marine biologist and keep an eye out for whales before boarding your
Onboard “enrichment activities” like photography classes and computer classes keep the grey cells ticking over. Art appreciation forms a large part of the fit out of some ships with many collections worth millions of dollars, exhibiting current and past masters.
Many larger ships have – at a minimum – several restaurants, bars, shops, and swimming pools, and often a theatre, casino, cinema, beauty spa, computer area, and reading room (cruise ships often have extensive libraries). There’s also usually a full schedule of activities such as sunrise yoga, presentations from experts about the region, cocktail making classes, cooking schools and quiz nights to keep you entertained. Once you add in the shore excursions at port days, you’ll have no time to be bored!
Many people are pleasantly surprised by the size of their room (or cabins/staterooms as they are known at sea) – although, it goes without saying that the accommodation options onboard each ship are different. If space is important to you, select a cruise that offers larger-than-average cabins or suites as a selling point and
There are cruise holidays to just about every part of the world. You could cruise the Mediterranean, island hop through the South Pacific, see incredible wildlife in Alaska or meander down the Mekong River. You could even join an expedition cruise to Antarctica or the Galapagos Islands, or book an around-the-world cruise and stop in at dozens of countries over the course of a few months.
Your destination may determine your cruise type. For example, if you want to cruise the Seine in France and stop off in Paris, you’ll be onboard a smaller river cruise ship that is designed to navigate European rivers. If you want to cruise to Hawaii from mainland US, you’ll likely be onboard a large vessel with plenty of entertainment and activities to keep you entertained during the many sea days.
If you’re new to cruises, you may wish to start with a shorter cruise itinerary to get a taste of holidaying at sea. While a world cruise might sound exciting, you can be on board for up to three months - which might be a bit much for a first-timer. Start with an itinerary of between four and seven days and then extend to longer journeys when you’re comfortable.
Depending on where you’re cruising to (and from), you might spend many days at sea to reach your destination. Sea days can be a great way to relax and unwind, but they’re not for everyone. Make sure you check the number of sea days and port days before you book. Land lovers can always go on a cruise that makes frequent stopovers, and still, enjoy time afloat.
Every cruise line has a different pricing structure. Some cruises may have a very affordable lead in price, but require you to pay for more onboard. Others offer an all-inclusive price which covers food, drinks, tips, and shore excursions. All inclusive pricing tends to be available on the premium and luxury lines.
Unlike hotels which quote a per night price, cruise lines quote the price of the full itinerary as you are onboard for a set number of days. Dividing the total cost of the cruise by the number of days can bring a different perspective to the value for money.
Millions of people go on cruise holidays every year – and for good reasons. Cruise holidays offer variety, an opportunity to learn and meet new people. They can be relaxing if you want them to be, stress-free, convenient, and safe. Very little travel planning is required; the cruise line and your travel agent can take care of most of the details for you. All you need to do is turn up, unpack once, settle into your cabin or suite and immerse yourself in the itinerary. Just wanting to relax? Enjoy the accommodation, an amazing array of food and entertainment on offer, and let the ship take you to the next destination. Joined an expedition? Get ready for the adventure and experiences ahead of you.
Just as there is a ski culture, a hiking culture, a beach culture, and many other types of travel cultures, there is a cruise ship culture.
Consistency in your day to day environment among travelling to different destinations can be a very relaxing way to explore. Once settled into the cruise, the ship often begins to feel like a home. You can even fuse your favourite day to day activities such as going to the gym with exploring new countries.
And, because there are so many style themes that can be chosen from - for example, cruises that cater to family time or cruises that embrace learning about a particular region - you can travel with like-minded people.
Some cruise lines (particularly the luxury ones) have very high repeat rates because of the style of the ship, the way they approach to service and the other passengers onboard. Once you find your ideal cruise line, different itineraries with the same cruise line can be like going back to a favourite hotel where the crew know who you by name.
On a cruise, you have the flexibility to spend your time how you choose. You can participate in pre-organised, structured activities or you can relax by the pool with a good book. For many travellers, having to plan every moment of their holiday to ‘make the most out of their trip’ can feel overwhelming. On a cruise, there is plenty of time to relax and to experience new and exciting things. You can strike your own perfect balance.
Cruise culture can be as quiet or as social as you choose. It’s a wonderful opportunity to mix and mingle with like-minded travellers – you never know who you might be sitting next to at dinner. It’s also an easy way to travel whether you’re flying solo or with a large group. And, if you’re an introvert that needs plenty of alone time, you’ll find plenty of peaceful nooks to rest and recharge.
On a cruise ship, you get to rest your head on the same pillow each night. That small comfort can feel huge when you’ve spent the day exploring new places and meeting new people. You can focus on enjoying your holiday instead of spending time on various planes, trains, and buses and constantly changing hotels, and battling unreliable food and accommodation quality. You can also keep up some favourite activities from your routine at home, such as going to the gym or enjoying a daily swim.
Life on a cruise ship varies on sea days and port days. On sea days, there will be onboard activities and entertainment. On port days, the ship will be quiet as most people will be onshore. If you’re craving a little peace, you’re welcome to stay behind on port days.
Whether it’s a sea day or a port day, you can usually count on a variety of dining options in the evening, followed by entertainment of some kind – perhaps a live show, movie or guest speaker. Or, if you’re on a smaller-style cruise, everyone might gather after dinner to learn about upcoming shore excursions (there will likely be destination specialists on board to help you make the most of your trip).
We look forward to booking your unforgettable cruise holiday.
Get in touch with us today!