A cruise can be great value for money, 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 holidays? Top of your list should be doing your research. Get it right, and a cruise can be a relaxing and highly affordable experience. Get it wrong and you’ll 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 operate during specific seasons only; while you can cruise the South Pacific year round from Australia, you can only head north to Alaska or to northern Europe during their summer months. Deciding how long to cruise is also a big decision, as itineraries range from two-night jaunts to longer voyages of a week or more. New cruisers are usually recommended to opt for a five or seven-night itinerary as a safe bet, as it allows enough time to get into the “swing of things” without being too long if you decide you don’t like it.
Size does matter when it comes to cruise ships too. 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 better option as they’re always more stable in rough 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, you should focus on small to medium ships which are 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 are, and on many cruises except for those deemed “all inclusive” you will have to factor in paying extra for a lineup of things from soft drinks and premium coffees to alcohol and tips.