A cruise can be great value for money as holidays go, and with ships ranging from basic to six-star, there’s something to suit all budgets. But how do you ensure you will have a great time if you’re new to cruising? Top of the list is do your research. Get it right a cruise can be a relaxing and highly affordable experience; get it wrong and you may wish you stayed at home, so take time when researching ships, cruise lines, and fares, using reputable resources. Next, you’ll need to choose where to cruise, keeping in mind that the further you travel, the more expensive it will be. Also some destinations are seasonal only; while you can cruise the South Pacific year round from Australia, you can only head for Alaska or northern Europe during their summer months. Deciding how long to be on the high seas is also a big decision, as cruises range from two-night jaunts to voyages of weeks or longer. If you are a newbie, a five or seven-night itinerary is a safe bet, as it allows enough time to get into the “swing of things” without being too long.
Size does matter when it comes to cruise ships. As a general rule, you’ll find five star luxury on small to mid-sized ships, while bigger vessels will have more facilities, entertainment options and restaurants to choose from. For anyone susceptible to seasickness, however, a big ship is a safer bet as they’re more stable in heavy seas. Another key element in choosing a ship depends on who is travelling with you. Some ships are built specifically with families in mind, with kid-specific facilities including clubs and child minding services, but if you’re looking for romance, focus on small to medium ships aimed more at couples. Finally, check prices carefully. The fares you will see online or in newspapers are almost always “per person”, and not per room like hotels, and on many cruises except for those deemed “all inclusive” you will have to factor in paying extra for a variety of things from soft drinks and premium coffees, to alcohol and tips.