For first time cruisers, planning that very first maiden voyage can be a bit daunting. How do you choose the right ship? Where should you go? What should you pack and what should you leave at home? What time will you need to be back on board if you don’t want to find yourself channeling Tom Hanks in Castaway?
Here are our top tips to make sure your first cruise goes swimmingly.
1. How to choose the right cruise ship
Did you know there are more cruise ships at sea now than there are days of the year? From the action-packed to the serene and sedate, the ultra-luxury ocean ships and those that are river going slips of a vessel small enough to navigate the most narrow of waterways. To choose the right ship for you, we’d always say start by looking at where you want to go, then look at which cruise lines go there. Once you have that down, take a look at our cruise reviews for honest advice from cruisers that’ll make choosing between ships that bit easier.
2. Choosing where to go on a cruise
There’s a whole world out there and there’s hardly a corner of it that is beyond the reach of a cruise ship. If it’s your first cruise, you can choose one of two routes; either stick with one of the tried and tested favourite cruise destinations like the Mediterranean or Caribbean, two sun-drenched parts of the world whose islands, cities and coastlines could have been made with cruising in mind, they’re that perfect. Alternatively, jump in at the figurative deep end and embark on an adventure. Places like the Galapagos, Antarctica or even Norway and Russia, closer to home, are so much simpler to experience by sea.
3. When should you go on a cruise holiday?
There is no right or wrong time of year for a cruise holiday; they’re amazing all year round! Spring is stunning in the Norwegian Fjords, shades of green bursting through on the mountains and the fjords themselves as still as millponds. Spring is also a great time to cruise to he Mediterranean, just before the summer crowds arrive. Cruise slightly outside of the main season and you’ll often find fares are great value too. Of course, parts of the Med are worth joining the crowd for, like the idyllic Greek Isles; those deep blues and gold sands shimmer in the August heat. The Baltic cruise ports are stunning in autumn, while Canada and New England fall colours have made both bucket list stuff for cruisers. Winter presents two options; chase the sun to the Caribbean or wrap up warm for New York shopping trips or European mini cruise weekends.
4. What to pack for your first cruise
The beauty of no-fly cruises from the UK is that you can pack to your heart’s content without a care in the world for luggage allowances. You’ll always find ample storage in your stateroom, but we try and live by the mantra that if you aren’t sure you’ll wear it, don’t take it. Holidays are for living every minute, not agonising over outfit choices after all. Think outfits that double up; a maxi dress can be beach ready as easily as it can be glammed up with heels and earrings come evening. Remember to pack a beach bag if you’re planning to cruise to the Caribbean or similar. And even if you’re planning a laidback holiday, pack one outfit that feels a bit special, just in case you decide on a spontaneous dinner somewhere that demands a little extra effort.
5. Pack clever when it comes to hand luggage
Due to the sheer amount of luggage that comes with embarkation day, it can sometimes take a few hours before your case arrives at your cabin. There’s nothing worse than being desperate to hit the pool or spa, only to find your swimwear is still MIA, so pack some first day essentials in your hand luggage. Things like sun cream, medication, that aforementioned swimwear, a change of clothes after a day. of travelling to the port, some toiletries so you can freshen up and one of your holiday reads should be plenty to put you on until your luggage arrives.
6. Planning your cruise excursions
You’ll want to make the most of every minute, so make sure you take a look at your itinerary ahead of time and have a think about how you’ll want to spend your days. We advocate a nice mix of shore excursions and more leisurely days without too much of a plan. Your cruise line will let you know what excursions are on offer before departure, with prices and details of what to expect. Of course, you can opt to do your own thing and plan your own activities on shore (dependent on your cruise line’s current Covid protocols for now, of course…) If you do, just make sure you allow plenty of time to get back to the ship before sail away!
7. Still a bit stumped when it comes to planning that first sailing?
Let our Cruise Experts do the hard work for you. Give them a call on 01246 819819 with all your first cruise questions.