Whether you’re new to cruising or a seasoned sailor, there are always a few things to take on board when planning your next cruise adventure. From choosing the right ship and cabin type to planning your excursion list in advance, we’ve collated all of our years of experience and knowledge into one handy complete guide to cruising.

Take a look at part one, ‘Planning your cruise’, here;


Take a look at all of our cruises

 

Lady planning a shore excursion while on a cruise

 
Part one - planning your cruise

How to choose the right cruise for you

When planning your cruise, the first question you need to ask yourself is, ‘What type of cruise am I looking for?’. There are a wide range of options available, from relaxed adults only voyages for the over 50s or adventure expeditions to explore the fjords, to high seas party experiences for the over 18s complete with casinos, clubs and late night drinking venues, to family friendly ships with water parks, thrilling sea adventures and character meet and greets for the really tiny people. 


Here’s a few questions to ask yourself. 


What type of cruise experience are you interested in? Lively? Relaxed? Adults only? Family friendly? Sightseeing? Staycation?


Filtering out what you definitely don’t want is probably the easiest way to start. For example, if you’re looking for a quieter cruise where you won’t be surrounded by small children and lots of noise, you might want to steer clear of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines and look more closely at adult-only cruise lines such as Saga or Fred. Olsen. Or if you’re interested in seeing wildlife in their natural habitat or venturing to ports that aren’t accessible to larger cruise ships, you may want to check out Hurtigruten. Once you’ve established what you don’t want, you can then start to look more closely at what you want and what cruise line and ship is right for you.


Related article: What cruise line is right for me?

Which cruise line and ship should I choose?

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, you then need to take a look at what cruise lines and ships will be the best for you and your fellow passengers. 


For example, if you are a couple looking for a romantic getaway where you want to sample delicious cuisine and enjoy a relaxing couples spa experience, you may choose to sail with Cunard or P&O. Or, if you are a couple who are after a lively experience where all of your fellow sailors are over the age of 18, you may opt for cruises with Virgin Voyages where there’s plenty or nightlife open until late and comfortable ‘day’ cabins complete with folding beds so you can entertain before heading ‘out’ to party for the night.


For those with excitable teenagers, Norwegian Cruise Lines are a firm favourite thanks to their abundance of on board activities especially for teens and young adults or for really small people, Royal Caribbean, again thanks to their jam packed youngsters itinerary. 


Once you’ve decided which cruise line to go with, you then have the exciting task of selecting which ship is right for you. This may take up some time, but we promise it’ll be worth it when you find exactly the right offering for you and your fellow passengers.


Related article: What cruise ship is right for me?

What type of cabin should I choose when planning a cruise?

You’ve decided which cruise line to sail with and selected which ship, now it’s time to decide which cabin grade you’d like. 


There’s a few basic questions you need to ask yourself before selecting a cabin grade. Firstly, are you working towards a budget? If so, suites and superiors are likely out of the question, leaving you inside and standard outside cabins. If you’re not too bothered about being able to see outside while on your cruise, an indoor cabin can be the most cost effective way to cruise. Having said that, some cruise lines such as Saga now offer all passengers an outside cabin as standard.


It’s also worth mentioning that, for solo travellers, you may find it better value to opt for a single cabin. More and more cruise lines are starting to incorporate single passengers as the norm, with a selection of single cabins set aside specifically for those travelling alone. Cruise lines offering single cabins include Saga, Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America and MSC.


If money isn’t an issue and you’re planning on making your cruise the holiday of a lifetime, then take a look at some of the suites available. From Rockstar Quarters on board Virgin Voyages Scarlet ships to glamorous suites on board P&O’s ships, deluxe accommodation isn’t just somewhere to stay, it’s also an experience in its own right. 

What inclusions do I get while on a cruise?

When planning your cruise, it’s worth spending some time looking at what inclusions you’ll receive as standard. For example, wi-fi is often included in your cruise fare as standard, but if you’re travelling with social savvy teens, it’s best to double check before travelling so you don’t get home to find a mobile bill for hundreds of pounds waiting for you.


As well as wi-fi, it’s handy to know what drinks are included as standard. Some cruise lines include all soft drinks within your fare, while others also provide wine and beer at meal times and others are all-inclusive throughout the duration of your cruise. Here’s a handy checklist of inclusions we recommend you check when planning your next cruise:


  • Is wi-fi included in my fare?

  • What drinks, if any, come as standard?

  • Are gratuities included? It’s standard to tip anything from 10% -15% on board for waiting staff and cabin stewards which, over the course of seven days can really add up

  • Will I have travel insurance as part of my booking or do I need to arrange this separately?

  • Are shore excursions included? Some cruise lines offer a couple of excursions as part of the cruise fare with additional available at a cost

  • Are all restaurants included in the cost? Which, if any, require additional payment and how much are they?

  • Is there 24-hr room service available?

  • Is parking at the port included?

  • Do I need to pay for the use of on board facilities and activities such as the spa or gym? What about certain scheduled activities such as cocktail making classes or enrichment talks?

  • What is the on board currency?


Answering these questions can help you tailor your cruise specifically to your needs and will often mean there are no hidden costs when you step on board.

Do I need travel insurance for a cruise?

In short, yes! While there is always a ship’s doctor on board, in the event of an accident that requires a hospital admission or one of your party needing to be repatriated to the UK, medical costs can run into the thousands meaning without adequate travel insurance, you’ll need to foot the bill. And don’t forget, a good travel insurance policy will also provide cover for lost or damaged personal items, accidental damage and personal liability. 


Travel insurance and cancellation cover are included in the price of some cruises, with Saga, for example, so make sure you check with us before booking to make sure you have all the cover you need. Some insurance companies request you take cruise specific insurance while others simply ask that your policy covers the cost of your cruise in its entirety, so in the event of cancellation, you’re covered for the whole amount you‘ve paid. While we can’t advise you which policy to take, we can steer you in the right direction to help you find one that’s right for you.

What are the COVID-19 requirements for a cruise?

Sailing in a post COVID-19 world does mean there are now a few more restrictions and requirements in place for those wishing to cruise, whether looking to venture abroad or enjoy a UK cruise staycation.


The majority of cruise lines now require all passengers to have had two doses of a certified COVID-19 vaccine and will request you show proof of these during embarkation. In addition, you will likely be required to take a lateral flow test either just before embarkation or in the days leading up to your departure. It’s also the case that, should you experience any symptoms related to COVID-19, including a new, continuous cough, high temperature and a loss or change to your taste and smell, you should avoid travelling to the port for embarkation and contact us immediately or your cruise line immediately.


Related article: Cruising after COVID-19 - what to expect

What if I’m cruising alone?

Whatever your reason for cruising alone, we want to make sure your experience is just the same as if you were travelling with additional passengers. Certain cruise lines cater specifically for single cruisers, and as such, have more specific solo offerings, including single cabins, low or no single supplements, single mingles and dance hosts. 


We highly recommend looking at cruise lines that offer these options as it usually means you’ll pay less than on cruise lines which don’t. As a starter for ten, the following cruise lines offer solo cruising options:


Find out more 

If you’d like to find out more about the cruises we offer, take a look around our website or call our knowledgeable team on 01737 646412.

Next: A complete guide to cruising - part two: before you sail