It’s finally happened – you’ve decided that you’ve spent enough time being herded around by Ryanair, you don’t want to spend another week in a complex full of rowdy kids and you’d like to see more than the dusty local market. So you did the right thing and booked a cruise. However, before you get over excited and start running up and down the ship, I have got ten points to help you make the most of your first cruise holiday.
- Don’t rush around like the mad hatter when you first get onboard. You want to explore every inch of your new home – that’s understandable – but take it easy, you have plenty of time to explore and do everything! Don’t be defeated on embarkation day!
- Insurance is key. Making sure you’ve got appropriate cruise holiday insurance is vital – you can head off and enjoy yourself, knowing that you’re covered and you’ll avoid sky-high medical costs if something goes wrong. I have been to that dreaded deck they call number 4 (often where you find the medical centre on larger ships) and trust me, it ain’t cheap!!!
- Plan your day trips in advance. If you know that you’ll be visiting some must-see places, don’t just hop off the ship and have a quick stroll – make sure you’ve got an action plan in place to make the most of your visit. Research places to eat, local shopping, tours and bars – you’ll only be there for a few hours, so make the most of it. I also recommend you do some research via Google maps – I used this to plan a cruise once and I was so glad that I did. I left the ship and instantly knew where I was going because I had “walked” through street view.
- Don’t be afraid of talking to the crew. Guess what – people who work on cruise ships tend to be pretty sociable; they’ve chosen careers which involve a lot of contact with other people. Once you’re onboard, don’t be afraid to say hello, to ask questions, or to tell them if you’ve got a complaint. Cruise lines have got plenty of competition and as a rule, they’ll do everything they can to ensure happy passengers, so just ask – you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.
- Make sure that you read the small print. Some cruises really are ‘all inclusive’, while others charge separately for items such as drinks, port charges and excursions, so it can be difficult to work out which is really the cheaper deal. Don’t forget the gratuities either!
- Talk to your fellow passengers, make friends and have a good time! I have met so many wonderful people since I started cruising – I have even bumped into a few several times over the years on other voyages.
- Show your loyalty to get a great deal. Many cruise lines have advantage programmes which reward loyal customers – if you’re impressed with your first cruise, bear the company you travelled with in mind when you book again. Perks could be anything from £100 worth of cruise vouchers to private cocktail parties or free bottles of wine. Some rewards programmes are better than others, I happen to like the extras that come with Princess Cruises! 😉
- Travelling with kids? then don’t forget to pack their swimming gear in your carry on bag. If you embark on a sunny (and HOT) day, the last thing you want while you wait for your cabin to be ready is a group of screaming kids wrapped around your neck. Pack the swim stuff in your hand luggage, then you can let them begin their adventure the moment you step aboard – you can also sit back and have five minutes peace!
- Don’t forget seasickness tablets. People will say you can’t feel the ship moving, but if you hit bad weather, then you will feel motion! Every single person is different, I personally don’t suffer with sea sickness, but I know a few people that do. Some people may only suffer in extreme weather, others may be ill with the smallest of movements – it’s your first cruise, pack some Stugeron 15 just to be on the safe side! Chances are you will not need them.
- Finally, go with the flow! Life on board a cruise ship is so relaxed, it’s pretty much horizontal. Wear your snazzy beach wear, enjoy colourful cocktails, join in with the karaoke and have fun with all the themed evenings. Be sure to pack some fancy evening wear as well as your shorts and sandals – getting glammed up is all part of the experience.
So, there you have it, some ideas and tips to make the most of your first cruise holiday.
As I said in my first point, travel insurance is an absolute must – I would never leave the country without it and I have just taken out my annual multi-trip cruise cover with Columbus Direct.