Booking your first cruise can be an incredibly exciting time but before you do, there are a few things you’ll need to consider if you want to make the most of your next big adventure. Here are five tips to ensure your cruise experience is smooth sailing.
Though it’s possible to get last-minute cruise deals, there’s no guarantee that the cruise you’re looking at will have cabins available and if you leave it too late, you might miss out.
To ensure you get both the cabin you want and a great deal, it’s a better idea to decide what time of the year you’re planning to travel and then book your cruise as far in advance as possible. Cruise lines such as MSC Cruises often have deals throughout the year, especially through Wave Season, so keep an eye out for any special deals or discounts.
After booking your dream cruise, the last thing you want is to find that you can’t get to the embarkation port. Make sure to plan and book your transfers at the same time as your cruise, to ensure that you’ll be able to get there in plenty of time.
It often works out cheaper to book separate flights to your departure port, rather than include these as part of a package deal with your cruise. However, you should bear in mind that if your flight is then delayed, your cruise will be under no obligation to wait for you. It may work out easier (and less stressful) to travel to the port the night before your cruise’s departure and stay overnight in a hotel near the port, so you’ll be ready to board the following day.
If you’d prefer to avoid crowds, consider booking a cruise during the off-season or ‘shoulder season’. As a bonus, travelling out of season often works out cheaper too, meaning you should get a better deal on your cruise.
Shoulder season is considered to be the time between high season and low season, and can be the perfect time to take a cruise as the weather is still good but there are fewer crowds.
Exactly when shoulder season falls will depend on the region where you’re planning to take your cruise. For example, if you’re looking to take a Mediterranean cruise, then late September and October would be considered shoulder season, whereas, in the Caribbean, shoulder season coincides with peak hurricane season, which is late summer through to early autumn.
Your cabin will be your home from home during your cruise, and unlike hotel rooms, there are many different factors to consider when choosing the right cabin for your trip. Cabins come in a wide array of shapes, sizes and locations so make a list of what’s important to you before you book. For example, would you be happy travelling in a cabin with no natural light? If you’re a light sleeper, ensure your cabin isn’t directly below a dancefloor or next to the anchor! If you get seasick, then the position of your cabin could be critical to your enjoyment of the cruise so try to avoid booking a cabin towards the front of the cruise ship and instead opt for a cabin on a lower deck towards the middle of the boat.
Don’t underestimate the importance of taking out travel insurance when you book your cruise. There are many things that could happen before or during your cruise that could leave you stranded and out of pocket. Travel insurance can cover you for most of these, including lost luggage and cancelled flights and ship malfunctions as well as injuries and illness during your travels. Ensure you take out adequate coverage and read the small print so you know what is and isn’t included.