Cruising is one of the best experiences a traveler can get. A cruiser can experience beach, nature, sightseeing, ports attractions, visit other countries, resort-like amenities – all in one vacation! But still people do fear about cruising! Some may feel confused or feel terrified of booking a cruise by watching those sinking ship movies such as Titanic or Poseidon. If you are scared of cruising and afraid of being in the middle of the ocean for so long, then you are not alone. Let me make cruising simple and understandable to you. Most often times, knowledge is power! The more you know of the cruise basics and the things to expect in cruising, you will feel more confident and be more interested to book your first ever cruise without hesitation.
This article is specially tailored for you to show you everything you need to learn before booking a cruise. You will learn from the basic fundamentals of cruising such as cruise types, best time to cruise, when to book a cruise, the right cruise line that fits your vacation style, how to be protected while cruising, and more. We care about your traveling experience and we always want to let you get the best traveling experience every time.
Before booking for a cruise or accepting any cruise invitation, you should know where you will go, what is the departure location, cruising length, time of the year, local weather forecast, etc. You can make a checklist about things before going on a cruising trip. The article below will help you make wise choices so your cruise vacation can be comfortable and fun!
Types of Cruises
Nowadays, different types of cruising trips are accessible in different areas. Some may only provide river cruise where some may provide all types. It’s always important to know which one you want to aboard. Each type of cruising has its own pros & cons. Popular cruise trips are:
Traditionally ocean cruise features a huge ship which sails in the open water. These ships stop in several ports and usually carry thousands of passengers. You will find several restaurants, bars, dining rooms & other entertainment attractions. It’s a kind of floating holiday-resorts.
River cruise sails at waterways. These types of tours are very common and you will find them everywhere. River cruise features small ships with less passengers. Most of the river cruises are port based and have short cruise days. You will be able to visit several tourist locations in a short time. You will find less facilities than the ocean cruise and entertainment features are limited.
Name says it all so you will find all the luxurious amenities in this type of cruise. Ships are smaller and you will get the chance to visit special and exclusive destinations. Passengers are limited and it can be hired for personal or private occasions.
Adventure cruises are more focused on destinations than the ship itself. Since it’s small and traveler onboard are adventurous by nature, this ship can be docked on any place and enjoy anything. You will find minimum ship features but maximum excitement.
As the name suggests, ships on these type of cruise moves from place to place. If you are a first timer and want to enjoy a peaceful & private time on board, don’t hesitate to book a tour at repositioning cruise. You will find all luxurious tour itineraries and will be able to visit ports and cover large distances.
Dinner or Cocktail Cruise
Dinner or cocktail cruises are designed to enjoy a night on the cruise. Most of the time cruise time and location are specific and limited. Suitable for small get together or business meet up.
Luxurious cruises best for newly married couple. Usually you will find romantic destinations and places on the landing list. Ship will be small with fewer passengers. Designed to provide maximum personal time to its passengers.
Perfect Time for Cruise
Before even thinking about a cruise, you should know who will be your companion. Based on your traveling partner, the cruise will be picked. If you are going alone or going with your family or spouse, you will find specific cruise types.
Cruise location and destinations are also very important. If you are going to a popular tourist destination in a holiday season then those tourist spots will be crowded. To avoid overcrowded tourist destinations, you should keep in mind of the vacation schedules. Stormy weather also varies based on cruising times and destinations.
Temperature and local weather forecast are very important for cruising. If you don’t want rain, then avoid rainy season. But remember, people always search for calm weather so both tourist and rate will significantly increase. Most of the places you will find the rainy seasons in winter and dry seasons in the summer.
Best Time to Book your Cruise
Booking time is very crucial for your first-time cruising experience. Early bird fares can significantly save you some money. It’s risky too because cruise trips are very much dependent on weather. Advance booking can lead to cancelation if weather is bad. The pro trip is, booking at the last minute can also save your cost. Every specific area has its own slow tourist season. Booking a cruise trip during slow season can also save your cost.
If you have already decided the type of cruise, sailing date and other necessary things, book as early as possible. When children are out of school, it’s harder to book a cruise. The cruises fall on these dates usually sell out fast:
- Christmas/New year
- President Week
- Spring Break
- Easter Week
- July/August Summer Break
If any of these is your considered cruise time, book as early as possible. Book your cruise 9-10 months in advance to get a bargain. Last minute booking can also let you have a chance of bargain but these are not certain. If you want a specific type of cabin, advance booking is always advised. If you are flexible, wait till a deal appears. Almost all tour operators provide deals, so visit their website regularly.
The Right Cruise Line for You
Cruise lines have their distinct personalities. Travelers pay a premium to indulge aboard such luxury lines as Regent Seven Seas, Azamara Cruises, Cunard Line, Silversea Cruises, etc. Affordable luxury can be found aboard Carnival or Norwegian Cruise Lines. Holland America ships are always refined and exude class. Princess is both posh and cozy. Disney is suitable for the whole family. Carnival provides a fleet of “fun ships”.
The cruise ship size is always important as well. Smaller ships (capacity of 500 passengers or less) usually provide an intimate environment. It features highly personalized service and unique tour itineraries. Medium-size ships (capacity of between 500-1,000 passengers) features fair amount of onboard activity and entertainment with less passengers than the mega ships. Large ships (capacity of 1,000 passengers or more) are for travelers who desire great, diverse amounts of organized entertainment. They also provide high-tech facilities and plenty of new friends to socialize and meet.
First-time cruisers tend to pick Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Celebrity, and Princess as their choices for their first cruise.
Types of Cruise Cabins
Every ship provides their own unique cabin with all its features. Depending on the ship, cabin size can be bigger or closet-sized suites with no windows. Apartment-sized suites with verandas and hot tubs are also available. Closet-sized suites (interior cabins) are always less expensive. Ocean view cabins (outside cabins) have windows which will be closed. To have a veranda with a door to sea (balcony cabins), you need to spend a little more. Suites are usually the largest cabin on the ship. Suites have their own balcony and larger bathroom with a tub. Don’t just book a room with no window to save a little. You can book suites with deals but enjoying your first-cruise by seeing the ocean from your room is the best experience you could ever have!
Cruise Travel Insurance
Just like any other types of travel, common problems may occur such us flight delays, sickness, bad weather, delayed or lost luggage, etc. If you didn’t purchase a travel protection, you won’t get the coverage you need for things that could go wrong before and during your trip. Getting a basic coverage insurance usually gets you covered for any emergencies or things that are out of your control or you can also pay additional coverage that will let you cancel for any reason! For first-time cruisers, it is recommended to get a travel insurance. If you get the “cancel-for-any-reason” type of insurance, you can cancel when you are having doubts closer to your cruise date!
If you are traveling outside your country, make sure you also prepare all necessary documents such as passport, visa (if applicable), travel insurance, etc. Take all necessary medical documents for any uncertain medical emergencies. When you have all your things organized before your cruise, it will make your life much easier so you can enjoy your vacation!
Sea sickness is one of the most common issues for first-time cruisers. Especially in an ocean cruise, you need to be prepared for sea sickness. Remember the rocking motion is usually severe in the edge of the ship (forward/front and aft/back of the ship). So, consider booking a cabin or stateroom at the middle (midship section) to avoid sea sickness. Also, the lower the floor, the lower the sea sickness. If you still not sure, then take some motion sickness pills or patch with you. It will help a lot.
Familiarize the tour itinerary before jumping on the cruise. If you don’t know about the port, the chances are you will find yourself in an awkward situation. If you love to see new places, then you will always find new things at different ports. Learning them in advance will help a lot to plan a trip at each port. You can also book shore excursions ahead of time so you can have things to do when you get to ports. Sometimes, tour operators will provide guide for each group. So, you should know which group you are in. You can always find tour guides at the port but sometimes, it is risky. When you are in a different country, you need to be cautious of your surroundings and the people you talk to. It is always better safe than sorry!
Cruise Tips and Other Resources
Do your research. Be familiarize with the basics of cruising. If you are already on a cruise, asking help from a staff member always helps. They will help you or let you know where to go to get the help you need. You can also ask your travel agent to provide you necessary information before taking on the cruise.
Remember, a cruise is not just a trip but a lifetime story to tell your children or grandchildren. Hope you learn something from this guide. If you think there are some issues or concerns that you want us to cover, let us know in your comments below! As always, we want you to have a great first cruise trip and we hope it will be your best first cruise ever!