1. Go on a taster cruise first
If you have a lot of worries and concerns about spending time on a ship, then it’s probably best to try out a 3-4 day taster cruise first, to make sure it really is for you. After all, the worst thing would be to commit to paying out for a 2-week cruise holiday only to find it’s really not for you after all!
Most cruise lines offer taster cruises across to European destinations such as Amsterdam or Brussels, so why not book a long weekend and try out the cruising life before committing to your first long ship-based holiday?
2. Book your trip via a cruise specialist
While there are always tempting offers around it’s always best to do your research and book via a cruise specialist travel agent as they will be able to get the best deal for you and help to make sure the ship and cruise itinerary you choose is absolutely right for you.
They will be able to show you all the different cruise line choices and advise on things like if the ship is family friendly, or only for adults, depending on what kind of holiday you are looking to book. They will also have a good knowledge of any extras which your chosen cruise line offers, like on board spending money and shore excursions.
3. Decide what kind of holiday you want
It’s not just about choosing the destination – think about what kind of holiday you want as that will help your travel agent select the perfect cruise line for you. Do you want to be really active, taking part in sporty events, and going on challenging shore excursions like hiking up mountains, or are you looking to relax and spend time sunbathing on deck and then taking leisurely strolls through quiet villages on shore?
Think about how you want to spend your evenings – will you be looking to dance the night away in an on board night club or do you want a luxury cabin where you can curl up and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine in the evening?
Thinking about these elements in advance will help to ensure you don’t end up on a lively party ship when you want a gentle cruise, and vice versa.
4. Don’t forget to book your transport
It can be all too easy to get carried away with the holiday itself without thinking about how you are going to get to and from the cruise ship with all your luggage in tow. If you leave it too close to the date to book, you might find all the car parks are full! Book your cruise parking in advance so you are safe and secure in the knowledge that your car will be well looked after for however long you are away.
Look for a service which takes you to and from the car park to the ship, if it’s not in the port itself (which can actually be an advantage so you don’t get caught in port traffic). Also look for a car park that is dedicated solely to cruiser’s cars, so you know the public won’t be coming in and out, keeping your car that more secure.
5. Book your shore excursions in advance
Shore visits to interesting places can book up really quickly – of course you can just go off and explore by yourself but if you want to make sure you see the sites and don’t miss the return to the ship, it might be best to go with the excursions organised by the cruise line.
As these trips out can be incredibly popular, check with the cruise line you are thinking of going with to see if you can book the trips in advance, and then make sure you do. That way you won’t end up arriving at a really interesting destination only to find there are no places left for the visit.
Planning your first cruise is a big adventure for most people and it can be the journey of a lifetime, so make sure you follow our quick guide and you will avoid some of the most common pitfalls which first-time cruise passengers often face.
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