How to Get the Most from Your First Cruise Holiday

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At Cruise1st, we consider ourselves to be the ultimate resource for cruise deals from the world’s best-loved cruise lines, visiting some of the most beautiful places on this enigmatic planet of ours.

We’ve put together a behemoth of a guide to cruise holidays to help the uninitiated, the inexperienced and the unsure. So if you’ve got a bit of spare time this weekend, put the kettle on, and enjoy our ultimate guide to cruise holidays.

Which Ship is Right for Me?

Sunset from ship at Mediterranean Sea during tour in Greece to Greek Islands

Cruise companies are savvy to the fact that more and more diverse groups are seeking out cruise holidays than ever before so are dedicating ships to demographics previously unrepresented. This means it is now easier than ever to find the perfect ship to suit the tastes and the needs of you and your travel companions.

Solo Travellers

The security and freedom of a cruise makes it the ideal form of holiday for a solo traveller. Many cruise lines are adding extra single cabins to their ships in the wake of growing demand from solo travellers looking to explore the world and, in some cases, meet like minded people. Norwegian Cruise Line’s flagship, the Norwegian Epic, has some of the most comprehensive solo traveller facilities on the seas with 128 studio cabins and wide ranging itineraries. Trips aboard the Norwegian Epic are as varied as cruises around the Caribbean, to tours of the Iberian Peninsula.

Great Deal: Rome to Barcelona

Newlyweds

With the launch of the new Honeymoon Wishes registry aboard Princess Cruises’ fleet; newlyweds can enjoy enhanced cruise experiences. Friends, family and loved ones can contribute to the honeymoon by buying the happy couple meals, drinks packages, spa treatments and shore excursions for their honeymoon. Princess Cruises have long maintained a dedication to producing incredibly romantic and unforgettable cruises for newlyweds, with the ‘Tie the Knot’ programme helping host spectacular weddings at sea.

Great Deal: Caribbean Explorer

Families

Royal Caribbean has long been forerunners of the family-friendly cruise with their activity and amenity-laden ships aimed to entertain and enchant all members of the family from the youngest to the eldest. The upcoming Anthem of the Seas from Royal Caribbean continues that proud tradition with on board water parks and extreme sports set to be included on the ship.

Great Deal: Sunshine in the Canaries

Explorers

The beauty of cruise holidays is they can transport you to some of the world’s hardest to reach places. From chasing the Northern Lights through the cities of Scandinavia and the Arctic Circle to following the footsteps of Charles Darwin exploring the Galapagos Islands; smaller cruise ships can access the hard-to-reach ports. The Celebrity Xpedition is the 92 person ship, specially design to access small ports in comfortable luxury.

Great Deal: Galapagos Inner Loop

Retirees

Even though the world of cruise holidays has progressed and evolved, there are still ships and packages which embrace the golden age of cruising. The Cunard Queen Mary 2 celebrates the heritage of the cruise holiday industry and is the only liner which makes regular crossings from Southampton to New York – perhaps the world’s most famous cruise route. The ship made its 200th journey on this route just last year and is continuing in strong form. On-board entertainment is sophisticated and enriching – from elegant ballroom dancing to educational and inspiring lectures.

Great Deal: Transatlantic West

So Many Itineraries to Choose From…

Vacations and tourism concept: Caribbean Paradise.

With cruise holidays visiting hundreds of destinations across all seven continents there are an incredible selection of itineraries to choose from. Whatever style of holiday you seek can be found on a cruise ship. From those who want to explore and get active to those who just want to relax and forget about work for two weeks, here we look at the itineraries and destinations to suit your personality and your tastes.

Sun Worshippers

Where better than the Caribbean to enjoy glorious sun on beautiful white beaches? The islands of this stunning part of the world were practically made for cruising, with many cruise companies even own their own private islands and destinations within the Caribbean. After the hurricane season ends on November 30th every year, its plain sailing for cruise ships around the Caribbean taking in stunning islands including St Kitts, St Maarten, Barbados and more.

We have a great selection of cruise holidays around the Caribbean starting at less than £900pp aboard some of the world’s most beautiful ships.

Adventurers

For holidaymakers looking to add a little bit of adventure to their trip, many cruise itineraries explore some of the world’s most extreme locations. Many cruises through Scandinavia take in the beautiful cities of Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen and Helsinki before traversing the Arctic Circle, giving passengers the chance to experience first-hand some of the most extreme places imaginable. Crystal clear waters and unspoiled snowscapes create the perfect backdrop to one of the world’s most remote locations, ideal for adventurers wanting to experience the extremities of planet Earth.

Take a look at our Scandinavian cruise deals.

Culture Buffs

The historic cities of the Mediterranean are some of the most cultural significant and historically important in the world, playing host to a many of the world’s greatest artists, thinkers, musicians and architects throughout history. A cruise taking in the historic sites of Barcelona, Florence, Venice, Rome and more gives lovers of beauty and culture the opportunity to explore some of the world’s most famous and significant pieces of art as well as some of the lesser known.

Luckily, we provide a great selection of Mediterranean cruise itineraries for these lovers of beauty.

Peace-Seekers

If you’re looking to take a week or two away from the stresses of the 9-5 life, a relaxing cruise holiday could be the perfect tonic. Fortunately cruise ships well stocked with the non-medicinal forms of tonics travel to some of the most relaxing and peaceful places on the planet. Hawaii and the Pacific Islands offer perfect tranquillity during a cruise holiday; with exceptional beaches and populations of nary a person.

Click here for a full range of cruises to Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

Sightseers

From the Great Pyramids in Egypt to California’s Golden Gate Bridge, cruise ships can help transport you to many of the world’s best-loved and most-photographed sites. Tick off those pesky entries on the bucket list you thought you may never visit with the aid of a cruise. Unless you are hoping to visit Ürümqi: the most-landlocked city in the world, of course.

Tips for Your First Cruise

Mature couple drinking a cocktail beside the swimming pool

 

First-time cruise goers will always have a long list of questions. Here’s a round up of our top tips – and be sure to take a look at our dedicated first time cruise section.

  1. Make sure you check where the cruise sails from. Many of our trips are fly cruise deals. This is especially important for people choosing to cruise because they dislike flying.
  2. Check what you get for free on the ship. Some ships include numerous complimentary restaurants, activities, facilities and even cheeky cocktails.
  3. Check shore excursions. We have itineraries to suit all tastes, so you can check multiple places off the bucket list in one fell swoop.
  4. Some cruise ships automatically add daily gratuities to your bill. Consult our comprehensive gratuity guide.
  5. If you have kids, check the childcare and babysitting facilities aboard the ship. It’s always nice to have a few hours away from the kids.
  6. Check the internet speeds and costs aboard the ships. Check our comprehensive guide to surfing the net while sailing the seas.
  7. And always peruse our Late Deals page for great savings.

Packing Tips

Fotolia_suitcase_packing_holiday

So you’ve taken the plunge, booked your first ever cruise and the suitcases are out of the loft. Here are a few tips for clever packing so you won’t come unstuck when you board the ship.

  1. Know the Dress Codes: some ships have formal nights or nightly dress codes for the main dining areas. Make sure you’re well aware of these dress codes before you start packing so you don’t turn up to a grand dinner in swim shorts or a Sheffield Wednesday jersey.
  2. Check the Laundry Facilities: if the ship you’re travelling on has laundry facilities, save a bit of packing space by doing a mid-holiday wash. You’ve instantly just halved the amount you need to pack!
  3. Keep the Essentials in Carry-On: when you board the ship you will hand over your suitcase for the subsequent hours. Make sure everything you will require for the following few hours is kept with you in your carry-on luggage.
  4. Expect Basic Toiletries: all cruise cabin bathrooms will come with all the basics you need for a comfortable stay but make sure you pack any specialist toiletries you will need from hair colour-specific conditioners to your favourite scent.
  5. Consider the Excursions: particularly pertinent for passengers going on long-haul cruises which take in a wide selection of different destinations, always make sure you have the correct clothing for all your excursions.

Hidden Costs of Cruising to Look Out For

Cosmopolitan cocktail. Flickr creative commons credit: Ralph Daily

And finally, just a little warning for first time cruisers about the hidden costs which may be attached to cruise holidays and how to avoid them. As mentioned before, almost all cruise ships automatically add gratuities to your daily bill but these can usually be altered at the guest services desks and do contribute towards remuneration for the hard-working staff.

Speciality Restaurants

All-inclusive cruises will only incorporate complimentary dining in a selection of the on-board restaurants. Make sure you check which restaurants offer free dining before sitting down and ordering from the menu. The preconception that the complimentary dining options will be second rate is entirely misplaced, serving delicious dishes using the freshest ingredients.

Shore Excursions

Whilst having an amble by yourself around a port destination is free, booking a guided tour to one of the tourist sites or local towns could cost a significant amount. If you’re booking an excursion with a local in port, they are often open to a little negotiation so try your hand at haggling.

Cocktails

Expert mixologists and even robotic bartenders are increasingly commonplace on cruise ships, but these can come at a premium. Whilst all-inclusive drinks packages may cover soft drinks, hot drinks and even some alcoholic beverages; a double Long Island Ice Tea could cost you extra.

Spa Treatments

After a long day of relaxing on the sundeck, you may desire a quick seaweed wrap and regenerative massage and many cruise ships play host to some of the world’s most stunning spas. However, these almost always come at an additional cost for treatments. Make sure you check the prices before getting your cuticles treated by an expert.

If you have any further questions about your cruise holiday, be sure to call our expert sales team on 0800 230 0655.

Take a Look at Our Full List of Cruise Deals

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Ralph Daily

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About Author

Nadia has worked as an editor in the travel industry for the past eight years, most recently at Expedia. From budget backpacking to high-end holidays, she has a wealth of experience to share. As editor of the Cruise 1st blog, Nadia oversees all aspects of editorial content, from the latest cruise news, to features and destination guides.

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