A cruise holiday is a wonderful way to see multiple destinations in a short amount of time. But if you’ve never been on a cruise before, the entire process can feel quite overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide for beginners. In it, we’ll cover everything from how to choose the right cruise line to what to expect onboard. By the end, you’ll be ready to set sail on the trip of a lifetime!
Choosing A Cruise Line and Shop
There are many different cruise lines to choose from, each with their own strengths and drawbacks. Do some research to find a cruise line that fits your budget and travel style. You can search for cruises by travel destinations if you have a particular location in mind.
Once you’ve chosen a cruise line, take a look at their different ships and pick one that looks appealing to you. Keep in mind that not all ships have the same amenities, so make sure to read the descriptions carefully. Some people prefer smaller ships because they feel more intimate, while others prefer large ships because they offer more activities and dining options. Ultimately, it’s up to you which type of ship you prefer. If you’re struggling to choose, your travel agent can be a huge help here. They can take your preferences and offer you a few options, or help narrow down some options you’ve found. When it comes time to pay for your trip, your travel agent can often find you a cheaper ticket!
Choosing a Cabin Category and Packages
Types of Cabins
When it comes time to select a cabin for your cruise, there are many options available. There are interior cabins with no window or balcony; oceanview cabins with windows but no balcony; and balcony cabins with sliding doors leading out to a private veranda. For those looking for extra room, there are suites available with separate living areas, bedrooms, bathrooms and sometimes even extra amenities like a mini-bar or hot tub. It’s also important to consider how many people will be staying in the cabin—some rooms can accommodate up to four people while others are only suitable for two.
Once you’ve picked out your cabin category and size, it’s time to select any package options that may be available. Many cruises offer all-inclusive packages which provide access to unlimited dining at various restaurants on board as well as special events such as wine tastings or cooking classes. Most fares are full-board, that includes food, but sometimes the fancier restaurants can come with extra costs. There are also packages that include onboard activities from rock climbing walls to fitness classes. Or if you prefer just to relax on board then there are spa packages that offer access to saunas, massage treatments and other wellness experiences. For those who like a beverage or two, there are drink packages available that can make a big difference to the cost.
What To Expect Onboard
Once you’ve chosen your cruise line, it’s time to start thinking about what you’ll actually be doing on your vacation. If you’re traveling with young children, you’ll want to look for a line that offers robust youth programs and plenty of family-friendly activities. For adults-only cruises, look for lines that feature upscale amenities like casinos, spas, and nightclubs. Cruises can come with all sorts of activities, from comedy nights to exercise classes. Find a ship that includes activities that speak to you. Regardless of which line you choose, you can expect most days onboard to follow a similar schedule:
- Breakfast is served from 7AM-9AM
- Most onboard activities begin around 10AM
- Lunch is served from 12PM-1:30PM
- The afternoon is free for exploring the ship or participating in optional activities
- Dinner is served from 6PM-8:30PM
- After dinner, there are various entertainment options available including shows, live music, dance clubs, and casinos
- Things wind down around 1AM
Of course, this is just a general overview—every ship will have its own schedule that may vary slightly depending on the ports of call and length of the cruise. Speaking of ports of call…
Ports of Call
One of the best things about cruising is that it allows you to visit multiple destinations in a relatively short amount of time. Most cruises will include stops at two or three different ports (sometimes more), giving you just enough time to explore each one without feeling rushed. When choosing your cruise itinerary, be sure to pick a route that includes destinations that interest you. There are cruises available to just about every corner of the globe—it’s simply a matter of finding one that matches your interests! Cruise ships often offer local activities or recommendations for what to do during these visits, so make sure to check what’s on offer.
Planning your first cruise can feel daunting at first – after all, there’s so much to think about! But with our helpful guide (and some advance planning), we promise it will be smooth sailing from start to finish. Just remember these key points:
1) take some time to research different cruise lines so you can find one that matches your budget and style;
2) familiarize yourself with the schedule of activities onboard so you know what to expect each day; and
3) pick an itinerary with ports of call that interest you.
Do all that and we guarantee you’ll have an incredible time cruising the open seas!