“Why did not we do this before?”
Having spoken to so many first time cruisers, their reaction is always the same – they ask themselves “Why did not we do this before?” It is great value for money and should be tried at least once. Cruises are much more affordable than they were in the past and many offer better value than the conventional land based holiday as all food and entertainment is included in the price. Prices for a 7 night fly cruise to the Mediterranean can start from as low as £ 399, however in general prices work out at approximately £ 100 per day. This price includes flights where required, transfers, accommodation on board, all meals, (be prepared to put on 1lb a day, although a gym on board most ships will help to keep the weight off) entertainment and you get to see a new port each day. Unbeatable value.
1st Cruise Holiday Tip
To get the most from your evening meal, choose the second sitting where offered as you will rarely be hurried to finish and you will get more chance to make the most of the social setting.
“There is nothing to do on a cruise!”
Are you active and need lots to do? Do you want to totally relax and watch the world go by? Do you want to dress for dinner or do you require a more casual approach? Are you happy to fly and join a ship or do you prefer to cruise out and back to the UK? We will guide you and point you in the right direction, alternately you can contact us and one of our experienced cruise consultants will be pleased to help.
It is important to have a good idea of what you want as the range of cruises is awful. Large vessels in excess of 100,000 tons offer superb family facilities including ice rinks, climbing, basketball and mini golf to name but a few. In the evening following a superb meal in one of the many restaurants on board, the ship really comes to life with casinos, night clubs, cinemas and a full range of entertainment to keep the fun loving active individual happy 24 hours a day.
If this all sounds too much for you and your idea of a cruise means lying back and watching the world go in total relaxation, then there is plenty of choice to offer. These ships tend to be smaller and although they do not offer the full range of facilities, they do make up for that in character and tradition. Dinner tend to be of a more formal nature and the range of excursions generally more interesting.
“I thought cruising was only for the well-off”
There is still the old aged perception that cruising is only for the 'well-off' and the upper classes. Nothing could be further from the truth! There are now cruises and cruise lines that suit all tastes from 3 star Thomson and Island Cruises through to 6 star Crystal Cruises. There are cruises that cater for families and others that are adult only. There are very traditional cruises where you have formal nights and the gents and ladies dress in dinner suits and cocktail dresses and there are ships that are totally casual and formal nights are the last thing on the agenda.
“I'm afraid I might get sea-sick!”
Most if not all cruise ships have stabilizers, however many cruise ships are so big these days that you do not even know that you are at sea. In the event of a passenger feeling sea sick there is always a doctor and nurse on board who can give the necessary injection if required or offer sea sickness tablets. Please note that there will be a charge for any treatment from the doctor and there is adequate travel insurance is a necessity. If you think that there is the possibility of sea sickness it is advisable to contact your own GP before travel.
Generally speaking, cruise ships travel where the weather should be good, however just occasionally the weather patterns can change and there may be an alteration to the cruise ships itinerary. This is very rare but can happen.
“What do I wear?”
There is always that temptation to take clothes for every eventuality, but it is advisable to carefully look at your destination and its climate and pack accordingly. If you are taking a fly / cruise there will be a weight allowance and that allowance will increase the further that you are flying. For Ex UK cruises there is no weight allowance.
On more traditional ships (P & O, Fred.Olsen, Cunard) you can usually expect two formal nights where gentleman wear dinner suits and ladies cocktail dress. Although a suit with tie for gentlemen is acceptable. It is advisable to look at the ships dress code and pack accordingly. Details on this will be sent with your tickets, however if you are in doubt please check with your 1st Cruise Holiday consultant who will be pleased to help.
Above all, do not be worried about impressing people or having enough elegant clothes; the whole point of cruising is to make yourself at home, relax and enjoy yourself.
1st Cruise Holiday Tip
It is well worth taking your time to book the cruise that suits you best.
1. Look for the destination that interests you and the itinerary.
2. Look at the cruise line that suits your needs. (Do you have a family or are you just a couple?)
3. Look at the ship and its facilities. Does it offer what you need?
4. Look at the price and that you are not too stretched. Remember on most ships you will have to pay the additional costs of drinks, gratuities and excursions. (Look at our page to see if any suit your requirements and pocket)
5. First time cruisers look at our Taster Cruises. 1 to 7 nights in duration.
6. If in doubt call our cruise consultants who will help you choose.
After you have booked your 1st Cruise
Once you have booked your cruise and your tickets arrive, they will usually be accompanied by a booklet describing the ship and cruise that you have booked and advising on things like dress codes, gratuities, shore excursions, etc. Do spend some time reading this documentation as you'll gain valuable advice on what to pack and how much to budget for drinks, gratuities and excursions.
All ships accept credit cards, although you can deposit travelers checks or cash when you register at the start of a cruise. You'll then run an account while you're on board and settle at the end. A final bill will be delivered to you cabin / stateroom on the last night.
For your convenience and if your tips are not pre-payable (your 1st cruise holiday consultant will advise you on this) some ships will distribute envelopes for passengers to fill and dispense on the final night. You are advised to take dollars, sterling or euros depending on the on board currency.
Inside or Out?
Cabins or staterooms as many cruise lines now call them come in many shapes and sizes, but to simplify matters they come in 4 categories. Inside, Outside, Balcony cabins and Suites.
Inside cabins are less expensive than their outside equivalent. There is no natural light, however lighting is good and inside cabins are now designed with drawn curtains to give the impression that there is a window in the cabin. If you do suffer from claustrophobia, you are probably better to choose an outside cabin especially if it is your first cruise. The advantage of an inside cabin is the price and you do sleep well with no natural light to wake you in the morning. The disadvantage is no natural light and you are unable to view the weather. Therefore a scouting mission is required to get your weather report. Many past passengers book an inside cabin to keep costs down and as you spend little time in your cabin apart from sleeping and a quick change for dinner they do not feel the need to spend needlessly.
Most cabins come equipped with TV, Phone, Safe and private facilities in the way of bath or shower.
Outside cabins will either have a porthole or picture window depending on ship and / or position on ship.
As you move up the cabin / stateroom scale, they become larger and better positioned on the ship. Mid ship cabins are generally more expensive than those at the front or rear of the ship. The facilities will increase and provide greater wardrobe space. Balcony cabins are now becoming much more popular and ships are providing more and more of these cabins.
Suites have a lot more facilities and many include canapés being sent to your suite each night before dinner together with a glass of Champagne. Some of the larger suites include your own butler and pianist, however, these do come at a price.
For more of John Gibb's excellent advice for first-time cruisers and more of his 1st Cruise Holiday Tips, check out 1stcruiseholidays.co.uk
1st Cruise Holidays.co.uk is filled with answers to commonly asked questions and solutions to the natural worries of cruising for the first time.
The site does not only cater for travelers worried about cruising, though! With detailed information on every cruise line and ship, including ratings, itineraries, ship details, ship photos and more, you can find out everything you want to know about your cruise holiday before you book it.
1stCruiseHolidays.co.uk has an expert team of cruise consultants who will find you the best possible deal to make your first cruise experience a great one!