Unpack once, visit multiple destinations, lots more included than a land-based holiday but make sure you book the right cruise for your needs. There are so many options to consider.
Whether you are new to cruising or not, the destination is a good place to start. The Mediterranean is usually top of the list for first time cruisers as its familiar, it doesn’t involve a long flight or if you don’t like flying you can cruise from the UK.
Type of Ship
If you prefer to holiday with fellow Brits consider P&O Cruises, for a European culture consider MSC or resort style ships with multiple activities and dining venues look at Carnival or Royal Caribbean which are both American owned.
Formal v Informal
Cruising can be as formal or as informal as you like and river cruises tend to be less formal. Some ships such as P&O and Cunard have formal nights, with black tie evenings, while on other lines a jacket will suffice, and many have dropped dress codes altogether. Choose your ship carefully if dressing up on holiday does not appeal, and likewise you don’t want assigned seating in the evening (where you are allocated a table and time to dine, often sharing with people selected at random, for the duration of your cruise). Increasingly, cruise lines are offering open seating, allowing you to dine when and with whom you want.
You also need to decide what sort of cabin you’d like. Inside cabins (no natural light) are the cheapest, followed by outside cabins (but be careful to ensure if you view is obstructed or not) and then balcony cabins followed by suites. Some inside cabins now offer virtual cabins where a floor to ceiling projection screen offers real -time views visible from the ships exterior.
Check what is included in the cost of your cruise. Some cruise lines put gratuities on the bill which is often ‘per person per day’ charge. This can add around £70 per person onto a seven night cruise. Carnival include gratuities on some ships and not on others. Some luxury liners such as Silversea and Seabourn include gratuities and drinks in the price whereas Regent Cruises includes drinks and most excursions.
When to book
Often if you book far in advance, the cruise lines try to secure early bookings by offering free flights, drinks inclusive packages, upgrades, on board credit.