Cruising is a growth industry within the travel sector, and hundreds of thousands of people spend their holidays in this manner. When I was younger, I dreamed of cruising to warm climes and interesting destinations. I collected brochures, but this type of holiday seemed like a dream to me. Too expensive for a Kiwi girl for a start, and there was the annoying fact I wasn’t old enough to get a job!
These days, cruising is more affordable than ever. Pick a destination anywhere in the world, and the chances are a cruise company sails there.
So, how do you choose a cruise? What factors should you consider?
These are the things you should consider before forking out your money.
1. What do you want from your cruise? Are you looking for relaxation or a party? Some lines cater for the younger crowd while others attract more retirees. Some of the shorter cruises are party cruises. Check it out first!
2. Are you traveling with children? Most cruise lines have a kids’ club and also one for teenagers. Some provide babysitters (for a fee)
3. What time of the year are you traveling? If you want relaxation don’t travel during Christmas/New Year or school holidays because most ships will be teaming with children. Children = noise.
4. Do you want sunshine and beaches? Stick to a cruise around the Med, the Carribean or perhaps the Pacific.
5. Do you like to dress up for dinner? Some lines expect a higher standard of dress, so if you like to wear shorts and a T-shirt all day go for one of the lines that are more casual. No Queen Mary for you.
6. Does the ship have a launderette available to the public? If you have a longer cruise this is important. Laundry and dry cleaning can be very expensive if you pay the ship staff to do it.
7. Do you want/enjoy sea days? Some cruises have several sea days, sometimes in a row, so if you loathe sea days check the itinerary carefully.
8. Hidden costs. The price of the cruise includes travel, onboard entertainment and meals. Be aware that travel to the port, alcohol, special coffees, signature restaurants, internet, ship excursions, and some hobbies will attract extra charges.
9. Room service – some cruise lines charge extra while others provide this service for free.
10. Incentive program – most cruise lines run an incentive program for frequent travelers. Instead of chopping and changing cruise lines, sometimes it is better to stick with the same one and reap benefits like free laundry and internet.
11. Are tender boats used at the ports? Some ports are not equipped for large ships to berth at the wharf, and passengers must be ferried ashore on smaller boats (tenders). This can take some time if the ship is a large one with several thousand passengers.
12. Don’t like a crowd? The ships vary from a few hundred passengers to several thousand. If this is important to you, choose your cruise accordingly.
Shelley Munro is a romance writer who lives in New Zealand and loves to travel. You can learn more about Shelley and her books at www.shelleymunro.com