Tips to keep in mind when booking your first cruise

Your first cruise will likely be one of the most amazing vacation experiences of your life. A cruise is always an amazing experience, giving you the chance to visit places you might never otherwise get to in comfort, style, and luxury, and you never forget your first one. However, actually booking your first cruise can be a daunting prospect. A cruise is unlike any other vacation you will have taken before and there are an awful lot of things to keep in mind, from the dizzying array of itineraries, companies, ships, and destinations to choose from, to the intricacies of what you need to know once on board. And that’s before you get into the details of how to get the best cruise deals! Cruising was one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, but has now recovered and returned, stronger and more exciting than ever before. Plenty of people are planning on getting back out onto the ocean waves, and even more will be considering booking a cruise for the first time. With this in mind, what exactly do you need to know to book a cruise that goes off without a hitch? In this article we lay out some of the best pro tips to keep in mind when booking your first cruise, to ensure a vacation you’ll never forget. 

How long should my first cruise be?

Cruises vary extraordinarily in length, from long weekends to 6 month round-the-world tours. For first-timers, a week or so on board ship is the perfect amount, usually giving you time to visit and explore two or three ports. A short, sampler cruise that only lasts three days doesn’t really give you time to get to know the ins-and-outs of cruise life, while longer itineraries are risky if you find you don’t enjoy the experience after all!

What’s the best way to book?

Unlike other vacations, the best way to book cruises is not online. Even in today’s web-obsessed age, the old-fashioned travel agent still reigns supreme when it comes to getting the best cruise experience. Travel agents offer expertise and important advice, as well as having access to the best promotions and deals. For first-timers, this support can be invaluable.

When should I book my cruise?

When it comes to booking cruises, the early bird catches the worm, and this has never been truer than it is right now. As cruise operators line up their first phase of renewed sailings, prices are good and availability will be limited, due to ships remaining at reduced capacity. Therefore getting in before demand outstrips supply will be key to getting a good deal. 

What’s the best type of cruise?

There is a truly staggering variety of cruises available - genuinely something to suit every conceivable taste. You can travel in luxury and style on board a giant floating city from expensive port to expensive port, or jump aboard a tiny river boat where you rub right up against the crew. There are cruise destinations all around the world, and every level of comfort imaginable. For cruise newbies, however, a traditional Caribbean cruise might be the best way to start. A Caribbean cruise offers sun, surf, and sand, and is probably the most convenient and accessible itinerary you can find. You can visit multiple ports without any trouble at all, and the waters are calm, reducing the risk of seasickness.

What do I need to know about cabins?

Once you’ve chosen your route, your itinerary, and your ship, you then need to delve into the secret mysteries of cabin booking. There are lots of choices you can make when it comes to staterooms, starting with the cheapest interior cabins with no window or balcony, all the way up to the most luxurious suite imaginable. The key thing to remember is not to be driven by price alone. You’ll want to avoid a cabin in a busy area of the ship where you might be kept up late at night, for example. There are some great resources online to help you decide exactly where you want to be on particular ships, depending on your specific needs.

What about shore excursions?

Shore excursions can be complicated, even for veteran cruise fans, so the best thing to do for newbies is to keep it simple. Even though details of excursions aren’t added to the itinerary until around 6 months before your cruise, it is wise to book the trips that catch your interest early. For future cruises you might be tempted to make some of your own arrangements while you are in port, but for your first time it is sensible to stick to the line’s options. Don’t forget to bring a good day bag so you can pack everything you need for your shore excursions, from cultural attractions and hiking trips to a day on the beach!

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