Your bags are packed, you’re ready to go, almost like the song except this time instead of leaving on a jet plane you’re setting sail on a cruise ship. At this stage your cruise has most likely been booked for months, you’ve spent a long time watching the calendar in anticipation and read your pre cruise documents so many times your now worried the cruise line check in representatives won’t be able to read it due to the wear and tear. In fact, by now you’ve probably found that your entire house has become a haven of list-making just to be sure you haven’t forgotten anything. You leave the house in the morning and arrive at the cruise terminal to be met by the excitement of seeing the ship for the first time. The wow factor sets in and you hand your luggage over ready for it to be delivered to your cabin, you head for check in, the excitement building and you just can’t wait to get on board. It is this wonderful experience that sets the tone for a fantastic cruise but getting to this point, especially for first time cruises, can often be a daunting prospect.
Booking a cruise is not looking booking a normal land based holiday. There’s a lot more to think about and a vast amount of options to choose from. When doing it for the first time, we understand it can often seem like the options are endless but the truth is, with the right advice and guidance it can be incredibly simple.
For many the first decision is where to go. Deciding which part of the world you wish to visit first is always the best advice we can give as this narrows things down instantly. Making this decision first allows you to gain a more specific understanding of what cruise lines and ships will operate in this area when you wish to travel. Definitely decide on when and where you wish to go first, it’s always the best foundation. From then on, let us take over and give you some options. We deal with a huge amount of cruise lines and will always find something of interest. The next stage is choosing a cruise line and this one can be a little bit more tricky, especially for first time cruisers. If you are a past passenger then you have experience and will have a better idea of what you like and don’t like when on board. From this you are able to make personally informed decision on whether you wish to travel again with a cruise line or perhaps try something new and different. Rest assured though, our expert sales staff will talk you through everything you need to know about all cruise lines of interest, offering advice on facilities on board, entertainment, dining and much more.
So what can you expect when choosing a cruise line? Well it can be as quick or as long as you want it to be in making a decision. We’re here to offer impartial advice and make sure we find the perfect, tailor-made cruise for you. Cruise line choice often revolves nicely around the destination you wish to visit. If you think you would enjoy heading off the beaten track and a more intimate cruising experience then we can look at a great range of smaller ships for you and discovery cruises. These types of cruises feature excellent port guides and detailed information about some of the fabulous places you will visit. Alternatively you may be looking for grand entertainment, extravagance and the wow factor of a larger ship. In this case we know just the ships and can guide you appropriately. Your decision will also be influenced by whether you wish to set sail from the UK or whether you prefer to fly and head straight out to your first destination. A fly cruise decision then opens up another range of options in the form of UK airport choice and transfers to and from the ship upon arrival, all of which we would guide you through with ease as the most important thing is to remember you’re in good hands and there is nothing at all to worry about, after all booking a holiday should be an enjoyable experience.
Choosing the right cruise line for you can seem like a huge decision, purely down to the amount of cruise operators there are. The best advice we can give you is to go with what you love to do best on holiday. If it’s relaxing then go for a cruise line with excellent pool and spa facilities, if it’s traveling with the family then choose a cruise line with great entertainment and children’s club and if it’s enrichment and discovery then opt for a cruise line with hand-picked guest speakers and informative lectures. We will talk you through each option one by one but always maintaining the focus that this is your decision and we’re just here to help.
Once you have made the decision of where and when to go along with the cruise line you would love to travel with, the next step of your booking journey is choosing your accommodation. This again provides a wide variety of choice but we always think it’s better to have a lot of options than none at all. Staterooms on board the majority of cruise ships range from inside cabins right up to suites. Inside cabins are usually around 15-170 square feet in size and are the lowest prices staterooms on board. The next step up is to go for an ocean view stateroom, which will be exactly the same size and layout, the only difference being in an ocean view stateroom you will have a full picture window whereas in an inside stateroom the window is often replaced with a mirror. First time cruisers may be thinking, hmm I don’t know if I like the sound of that but honestly, inside cabins are great value for money and offer more than comfortable accommodation. The introduction of some new cruise ships are even boasting virtual balconies for inside staterooms where a digital wall displays real time, live pictures of the sea to give passengers a unique experience, an example of this and the first to do so at sea is the new Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas.
The next step up in accommodation is to opt for a balcony stateroom, a cabin choice that has become incredibly popular in recent times and seen cruise lines build new ships purposely boasting a vast choice of balcony accommodation to cater for the demand. These cabins are often the same layout and design as inside and ocean view staterooms but offer the pleasurable option of being able to open your balcony doors and take in the fresh sea air anytime of the day and night. It offers the wonderful joy of being able to sunbathe in your own private surroundings in blissful peace and quiet. From here on the next level up in accommodation is heading into suite categories. These often begin with junior suites, sometimes referred to by operators as superior or deluxe balconies. These staterooms are usually slightly larger in size and offer a wider balcony for you to enjoy. Following on from this many cruise lines now offer a wide range of suite accommodation. These suites will gradually increase in cabin and balcony size as well as offering a whole host of excellent benefits. Modern day cruise lines even offer amazing accommodation such as penthouse suites and loft suites, which are truly incredible. You will discover some absolutely amazing features such as grand piano’, balcony hot tubs, electronic blinds, 50 inch plasma screen televisions and much more in these stunning staterooms. Suite benefits can include 24 hour butler service, priority embarkation, a dedicated concierge, champagne on arrival and much more. Suites are always a luxurious choice to make but as you can imagine they do go up in price and if you are looking for value for money, other stateroom choices can be just as comfortable and still provide a lovely cruise.
Accommodation choice can sometimes be a difficult decision for families and single travellers but let us see if we can’t make this a little simpler for you. Family cruising gives you several options. If you are travelling as a family many cruise lines now offer the option of interconnecting rooms, none more popular than Royal Caribbean for this. These cabins allow for families to open the doors between the two staterooms making sure children are ok and allowing for peace of mind. Many other cruise lines do offer this feature and if not we can always attempt to book you two cabins next door to each other or as close by as possible. The other option is that a variety of ships now offer family suites and family rooms. These choices provide bedrooms and accommodation for up to 5 usually, meaning the whole family can enjoy the same stateroom. Once again our cruise experts will be happy to talk you through all the relevant options to make sure we get the one you’re happy with. It is important to note, however, that these family suites and staterooms do get booked up very early, especially in school holiday periods but it is definitely worth considering if available.
Single travellers now have the choice of dedicated single staterooms on board many cruise ships. This is something that has only recently become a more prominent feature, particularly on new build ships and it is definitely about time. These cabins are fantastic and just as comfortable as others on board. Single staterooms even offer the same choices including inside, ocean view and balcony cabins. These cabins are rapidly becoming more available on a variety of ships. P&O Cruises are one of many cruise lines offering this choice now on board both larger ships the Ventura and Azura as well as midsized and smaller vessels the Arcadia, Oriana and Adonia. Fred Olsen is another operator that specialise in offering this type of accommodation on board.
So you’ve decided when you want to travel, where to, which cruise line and your accommodation. Now for the final decision to be made before you’re ready to complete your booking and then wait for the sail date to arrive. This final decision is of course; dining. Dining selection can often seem quite strange to first time cruises but it is really quite simple. Most cruise ships have one or several main dining rooms and these restaurants are the heart and soul of the cuisine on board. The grand style and glamour of these dining rooms is designed to provide a wow factor. These restaurants usually offer a choice of sittings, often first and second sitting at times such as 6.30pm and 8.30pm; however these may differ at times with certain cruise lines. This sitting choice is known as Traditional Dining and allows you to enjoy the same table each evening throughout your cruise. The alternative option on board most ships and a concept that has become hugely popular in recent years is Anytime Dining. This option provides the complete freedom and flexibility to dine whenever you wish each evening. Simply arrive and you will be seated to the first available table at a size of your choice. For more information on these dining choices, see our dedicated FAQ dining page.
On board you will often find alternative dining venues known as speciality restaurants and also more causal venues such as 24 hour buffet dining rooms. Speciality venues are excellent for celebrating a special occasion or perhaps when you’re just looking for something different. Many celebrity chefs now are also having an impact on cruise dining including Marco Pierre White and Atul Kotchar with P&O Cruises and the great master chef Jacques Pepin on board Oceania Cruises.
Our expert award winning Cruise Sale Consultants will guide you through every step of your booking journey, making sure that we cater to your every need and plan the perfect voyage for you. Although it might seem like the choices and decisions are endless, like navigating your way through a maze, it is in fact, when looked after correctly by our experts, relatively easy to understand and put together. A holiday should be just that, a holiday, a well-deserved break to relax, unwind and recharge, it should not at any point be a chore or a stressful experience, one thing we will certainly do is prevent that from happening. Give our consultants a call now on 01246 819819 or check out the brilliant itineraries available for 2013, 2014 and 2015 throughout our website. A cruising holiday is something you will never forget for all the right reasons and it is our pleasure to take care of the planning just for you so that you can head off and relax in style.
You can now take a look at our cruise awards right here.