Travel Magazine

First Time Cruisers “How To” Guide

By Andycockayne @andycockayne

To cruise or not to cruise…that is the question, but mostly only for the first time cruiser! Experienced sailors have long since known about the benefits of spending a holiday on board one of the many delightful cruise liners scouring the seas.

The joys of cruising are countless, yet it is easy to understand how a first time cruiser can get overwhelmed…

Where to go? which cruise line to book? what to budget?

These seem simple enough questions, but a quick search will lead to a myriad of almost endless options. Want some help?

Here’s a guide to assist you in picking the cruise and the destination that’s right for YOU; so cast away all your fears and jump onboard for the trip of a lifetime!

Research, research, research…the SHIP!

The most important thing to remember is that every cruise liner is specifically designed to cater for a particular traveler. Many first-time cruisers have made the mistake of choosing the wrong ship or cruise and have been disappointed; but a little  bit of investigation will certainly help avoid these issues – as an example, some cruises are much more formal and ‘evening wear’ is required every night whereas some cruises only have 2 or 3 formal evenings with the rest being more casual.

Look at the included attractions onboard; this precious list is the best indication you’ll have of whom the ship caters for. If a ship advertises half a dozen kids’ clubs, a rock-climbing wall and Walt Disney movie theatre, it’s safe to say honeymooners are not the ideal passengers. Families, on the other hand, will do well to book a cabin on these ships! Make sure the kids are well catered for, and the whole family will have a great time. Likewise, if it’s a romantic adults-only cruise you have in mind; then look for a cruise liner which advertises ‘passengers must be 16 years and over’.

Choose where & when

While getting a seemingly off-season deal to the Baltic region will have you jumping for joy, having a miserable time because you hate the cold may leave you a little…frosty. Stick to what you know and go from there. An Antarctica cruise will never be balmy and a trip to the Caribbean will always be hot; apart from these two regions however, the rest of the world is bound by the seasons, so pick a place and a time of year which suits you best.

It’s highly likely that your holiday time will be pre-set, so we suggest you first decide what you want (sun-baking or sightseeing?), then pick where to go! Spend a little more if you have to, or go for a shorter cruise, but never, ever, compromise too much on what you desire most. A yearly holiday is what we mere mortals work hard for all year, so now’s not the time to skimp! First time cruisers are well advised to make sure their first cruise is memorable for all the right reasons.

Budget well

Just like any other type of holiday, a cruise can also have a lot of hidden extra expenses. Knowing about them in advance will save you a lot of heartache, and credit card bills!

Cruises can be extremely economical, but first time cruisers can sometimes get unexpectedly stung. Knowing what is included (and what is not) is the key here. While three fantastic meals a day are included with your cabin price, drinks are usually not. Moreover, most liners automatically charge a 15% service on every drink purchased; something which can soon add up.

The amount of extra activities on board is usually plentiful, and this is by far the best way for you to really take advantage of modern cruise liners. But not everything is included, so make sure you budget a yoga or gym class if you like, or an evening cabaret show, and at least one very special dinner at a fine-dining restaurant on-board. There’s also usually a Day Spa to indulge in and, of course, a fun and exciting Casino too.

One need not go bankrupt upon returning home…one just needs to budget for all these extras. Extra activities are brilliant, they enhance your cruise, but they do cost something, so plan accordingly. If you’re a little hesitant, just keep a daily tab on your cruise-card, that way you won’t suffer a coronary on your last day when the bill arrives!

Take the sweat out of a first time cruise and sail easy, simply by following our guide. Remember: the on-board crew is there to make sure you have a great time, so rely on them for any issue you may have, or question you may be afraid to ask. Don’t be shy! Dive right in and discover a whole new way to travel!

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