01908 886491 woburn@etwtravel.co.uk

Get prepared for your first cruise. Let us help you make the most of your cruise holiday so you become a passionate fan of cruising.

What are your Expectations? 

Choosing an itinerary and cruise line for the first time is challenging, so we’ve highlighted a few areas worth considering, as booking the right type of cruise is all in the planning. A mini-cruise can help you test the water, or are you ready to sail away on that dream round-the-world adventure?

Where to Book?

The cruise enthusiast probably knows their preferred choice, but if this is your maiden voyage, you must have some basic information to make an informed decision. Engaging the use of a cruise specialist is sensible because their knowledge across the market is invaluable.

What Kind of Cruise

Not all cruise lines are created equal. There are over 300 ocean-going cruise ships, with a third of that number operated by the top five cruise lines. In addition, there are many other ships in niche markets, such as adventure and expedition, plus numerous river cruises worldwide. For many people, size really does matter when it comes to cruise ships, ranging from the most significant carrying up to 4,000 passengers down to the more boutique vessels, sometimes with as few as a couple of hundred people on board. Short sailings tend to have a younger crowd partly due to affordability, while longer itineraries allow visiting various destinations. Newer vessels tend to have plenty of additional space, so even on the mega ships, you can still find many areas for those quiet and peaceful moments.

What Price? 

No matter how inclusive you think the cruise price is, check the additional costs, which are sometimes unavoidable. It’s no exaggeration to say you can add upwards of a third to what you paid for your cruise.

Single supplement is an area cruise lines continue to grapple with, and many ships offer cabins for one, but these are in the minority. Single supplements can put people off, so using a travel agent who knows where to source the best solo deals is a must.

Drinks “packages” are notoriously expensive, and even the soft drinks offering seems to stretch incredulity. However, once you’ve chosen a package, you know exactly how much you will be spending on board, but there are limits because many “premium” drinks with well-known brand names can cost extra. The alternative is to buy drinks individually, so if you have a lighter intake, this might be the best option, but remember, a service charge is also added. Calculate the number of days you will be in port, as that could determine your decision on how much value you will get from a drinks package. Most cruise lines allow you to take a bottle of wine or spirits on board at the start of your trip but only sometimes in port, with a couple of exceptions.

Wi-Fi connections onboard ships are expensive for cruise lines; therefore, a daily charge applies. You need to do more calculating before you buy because if you are in port five days out of seven, you can connect to your mobile network, making the ship’s Wi-Fi package less important. Ensure you put your phone on aeroplane mode once you leave port to avoid automatically connecting to the ship’s Wi-Fi.

Cruise Line App Most ships now have an app which allows passengers to book excursions, dining options and other activities on board, avoiding queues and frequent calls to guest services, which connects seamlessly without incurring Wi-Fi charges.

Ship Excursions can be bought before you travel or on board. Arranging your independent land arrangements can be cheaper, but weigh that up against the convenience of being looked after by cruise line representatives and guarantees the ship will leave with you!

Tipping is mandatory on most cruise ships, except some higher-end ships belonging to Azamara, Regent, Silversea, Seabourn and Virgin, where tips are generally included in the price. Gratuities can add a reasonable amount to the price of your holiday, ranging from $12 to $20 a day per person being added to your bill.

Which Cabin? 

Inside, Ocean View, Balcony or Suite? It’s no secret that the most expensive cabins on board are frequently sold out months before sailing, partly because of limited availability. Inside cabins are great value for money, while most outside or ocean-view staterooms are well thought out with good space. Choosing a balcony is an excellent option if you are a first-time cruiser or intend to spend some time in your cabin. It provides the opportunity to sit outside enjoying a glass of wine in the fresh air with that real feeling of sailing across the ocean. If you suffer from motion sickness, choose a low deck with a central location to minimise movement, and wheelchair-accessible rooms are available on most ships.

Why Social Media?

If you want to learn some tips about your upcoming sailing from your fellow passengers, check for a Facebook page associated with your cruise. They can offer great tips and are a handy reference point for information.

What to do before leaving Home?

Luggage, unlike airlines, is unrestricted when cruising. On no fly-cruises, you can take as much as you want, but bear in mind storage space is limited, and there is nowhere else to put your belongings. Because of limited wardrobe capacity, take magnetic hooks to hang your excess clothes, as all cabin walls are made of steel. Also, take a paper copy of your passport with you wherever you go for ID and minimise problems if you lose it. Tea is a big issue for British cruisers. Many cruisers take their supply of flavour or brand to make their cruise stress-free and remember the appropriate adaptors and chargers to use on board, depending on ship type.

What Dining is Available?

Skip the buffet on the first day, as that’s where everyone goes. Use the main dining room instead because it is likely to be quieter. Speciality restaurants charge a supplement, but plenty of complimentary dining options exist. When ordering meals in the main dining room, please order two starters or main courses if your choice is limited.

Other tips  

Assigned boarding times are issued by the cruise line to avoid queues at embarkation and, if possible, well worth complying with. Guest services desks can have queues at any time, so it is best to go early in the morning or while everyone else is at dinner. Avoid being first off the ship when arriving at a port, so avoid queues unless you have early plans. Casino payouts usually are less generous than onshore, so think 10-20 per cent less, and you won’t be a “pier runner” – if you are late back to the ship, it can be an embarrassing run along the dockside and an expensive one if it sails away before you get there.

There is much to consider, so contact ETW to help you plan that first-time cruise!