For many first time cruisers the idea of searching, choosing and preparing for your first ever cruise can be quite daunting, so we have made a list of helpful tips to consider when thinking of your first cruise.
Find the right cruise line and ship for you
A lot of first time cruisers make the mistake of booking on the wrong ship or selecting a cruise line that isn’t suited to them. Each cruise line has its own style and price point, and each ship has its own vibe that often depends how old the ship is and the facilities it holds, the crew, guest contingent, and the ports the ship calls upon. Selecting the right one for you is crucial as a first time cruiser; it can determine whether you fall completely in love with cruising or if you’re put off for life!
Choose the right itinerary
Deciding on an itinerary obviously goes hand in hand with choosing the right cruise line and ship. If your heart is set on an adventurous voyage around the Mediterranean, you must pick a ship that offers that particular itinerary. A good idea for first time cruisers would be to write up a list of where you really would love to visit and then cross-reference it with your short list of preferred cruise lines. That will reveal the best options. Spend some time reviewing the itineraries listed, they are often found in their brochures at your local travel agent, or on their website.
Book the correct cabin type
Many first time cruisers make the mistake of thinking all cabins are the same on board larger cruise ships but that simply is not the case. If you’re used to staying in 5* accommodation whilst on holiday then choosing an inside cabin would not be the best idea for you to enjoy your first cruise. There are many cabin grades, depending on which cruise line you decide to go with, from inside cabins to suites with balconies and butler service. It all depends on what you need to make that cruise a memorable experience, and even though you won’t be spending all your time in your cabin, your comfort when you’re there is key to a great holiday.
Knowing passport and Visa requirements
As with any holiday you book, you must check any passport or visa requirements. Be sure you carry the right credentials or the cruise line will have no choice but to deny you boarding or keep you on the ship if you don’t have the necessary visa to visit a port of call. In many areas of the world, the cruise line provides a “blanket” visa for everyone on board so you don’t have to worry about it. Make sure you read your cruise documentation to see if that’s the case during your holiday.
Visit the speciality restaurants
First time cruisers may not realise that each ship offers a variety of dining options. There will always be the choice of dining in the “main” restaurant, but make sure you try the other options. Many ships have “specialty” restaurants – some of which may charge an extra fee and some that don’t, and the menu may feature steaks and seafood or Italian cuisine or sushi. These dining rooms are often gems and if do you want to try them make sure to make reservations for all the restaurants you want to try as soon as you board the ship, if you haven’t done so prior to embarkation.
Remember port preparation
First time cruisers often forget to pre-plan their days in port. Some who are new to cruising may sleep in late, have a leisurely breakfast, and then seek out information about the port the ship is docked at. By this time it’s too late to book one of the ship’s shore excursions as they depart quite early to make the most of the day. Before you leave home, its useful to decide which ports you really want to explore and make up a list of places to sightsee. For example, if you’re visiting Rome and want to tour the Vatican, get in line early rather than risk a long wait in the queue when you arrive in the afternoon.
Attend the port talks and lectures
Some first time cruisers often forgot to research on the itinerary’s ports of call before they travel, so if you do then make sure you attend the nightly “port talks” that give all the crucial information and include details like if there is a free shuttle from the port to the center of town, where to find taxis or ATMs, and must see sights.
Get to know the crew
Many first time cruisers make the mistake of avoiding the crew on their first cruise. They know the ship extremely well, and often have great tips about where to visit whilst in port and even have great travel stories of their own to tell. Get to know the crew, you will be glad you did.
Try a taster cruise first
A good option for first time cruisers is to sample a taster cruise before they embark on a longer cruise, to see if it is the right sort of holiday for them. You could try a few nights visiting somewhere like Jersey, Bruges or even Amsterdam. Some people like to try river cruising before taking to the ocean cruises as you are on board for less time.
Book with a travel agent
Booking a cruise for the first time can seem daunting for a first time cruiser, so why not let a travel agent do the work for you. At Conexo Travel we would help you choose the right cruise line, ship and itinerary to suit your needs, and should there ever be a problem with your holiday either before you go or while you are there, your agent would take care of it for you rather than you having to do it yourself.