Top tips for booking a cruise holiday
PUBLISHED: 09:05 02 June 2014 | UPDATED: 09:05 02 June 2014
With holidays on the high seas more popular than ever, now could be the perfect time to find your sea legs. Derby-based travel counsellor Kirsty Hancock, who has over 12 years of experience in the industry, gives her advice on taking to the sea
Where should I go?
It depends on when you want to go on your cruise. Caribbean cruises are normally available between November and March, avoiding possible hurricanes from June onwards. Mediterranean cruises are popular and busier in the summer months. It is warmer from May through to September, although many Mediterranean cruise ships sail the whole year round.
If you’re looking for stunning scenery then perhaps the Fjords are the place for you. Just remember, because of the location it can sometimes mean lower temperatures out of the main summer season. Many cruise ships allow passengers to fly and meet the ship so you can start in one place, finish in another, and experience some really far flung places.
Which company should I choose?
It depends what you are looking for from your cruise. Some companies specialise in family cruises, couples cruises, activities-based cruises or cooking. Some have celebrity chefs on board!
Celebrity Cruises offer family picnics on real grass, Zumba classes and even an Apple iLounge. Princess Cruises are a popular choice with new and old cruisers. They are an American style cruise line where the dress code is often more relaxed and informal than that of their competitors. P&O currently have seven ships and the new Britannia arrives in spring 2015. There are a variety of options, some family friendly and others adult only.
Cunard is very different again, as it’s typically English in style and very luxurious with exceptional service. To celebrate their 175th anniversary in May 2015 all three sister ships will meet in Merseyside. Norwegian Cruise Line gives the freedom to dress up or down with no schedules, set itineraries or meal times. Freestyle Cruising leaves every decision to you so you can choose how you want to cruise.
There are so many others to experience – Fred Olsen, MSC Cruises, Azamara Cruises, Carnival, Costa, Holland America, Disney Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Swan Hellenic to name just a few. Experience butler service, 6* ultra-luxury, spas, river cruising, Broadway style shows and lectures in atriums! Whatever you want, there is more than likely a company which offers it.
What sort of cabin?
An Inside cabin has no window. An Outside will have a window or porthole allowing you to see outside and gain natural light. Some outside cabins have restricted views, but you will need to check when you book, dependent on the location on board the ship. Sometimes obstructed views can be a little cheaper. Balcony cabins allow you to experience views and sea air!
One thing to bear in mind if you’re a non-smoker is that balcony cabins are sometimes popular with smokers because on some ships smoking is restricted to balconies and certain other outside areas. If that would bother you it may be worth considering a cabin as far forward on the ship as possible. Suites are often larger with the addition of extra luxury and separate living and sleeping areas. You might even get a butler! For stability, mid ship and low down is best. That way you should have less movement, which could be important if you suffer from sea sickness. The better cabins tend to be higher up. If you want to avoid noise then stay away from the lido or deck areas. Perhaps put a deck between you and these areas. Also in terms of noise; better to stay away from lifts and other public areas.
Are there bargains to be had?
Yes there are! It’s certainly beneficial to book as soon as the new brochures are published. Fares tend to go up the nearer the sail date is. However, there are still bargains to be had if there are spare places when the sail date approaches. It’s worth being on an agent’s mailing list to get notice of all the great offers. Another trick is to look out for when ships are re-positioned. For example, when the Caribbean season starts a ship may move over from the Mediterranean. You can sail to the Caribbean and fly back, meaning more days at sea. These re-positioning cruises are often reduced.
When it comes to cruising there is something to suit everyone and every budget. People tend to say that once you’ve cruised you’ll be addicted.
For further information contact Kirsty on 01332 890370 or visit www.travelcounsellors.co.uk to find your local travel counsellor.