Cruise travel is a type of travel my wife and I tried five years ago and as a middle aged couple, we were not sure if this style of travel would suit us. A few years later and we have now been on three cruises and will take a cruise around Western Europe again next year. Cruising is a great way to travel and we found people of all ages on the boat, the food was great and the entertainment onboard was excellent. After three cruises and having talked with many others onboard about their experiences, we have several tips and advice that we can share with you.
Many might disagree with me on this point but my feelings are that it is best to avoid the need for flights to get to your main point of departure for the cruise. From the UK, we booked a Caribbean cruise leaving from Miami, and we very nearly missed our flights from London due to inclement whether and the whole trip almost finished before it started. We did manage to make it to Miami in time but the relaxation that we were looking for was not there, given the stress we had getting to Miami. The whole point as I see it, in taking a cruise, is to be able to avoid airport queue’s and flights. I recommend to take a cruise from a local port if at all possible. In my case, I will be taking cruises from Southampton, England in the future. P&O cruises offer some good options if you are UK based, although to get to where the best European weather is in the South of the Mediterranean, you might find you will need to take a 10 day plus cruise. The one benefit of including a flight is that you can at least fly straight to where the good whether is!
One of the biggest complaints we heard from other cruise travelers, was that they were irritated at having kids running around on the boat. If you are a parent then certainly this is not an issue and rest assured that there excellent facilities and things organised on many boats for children. If you though want to escape kids (you might even be on holiday getting away from your own kids) then many of the main cruise lines such as P&O and Virgin have adult only cruises. Kids free cruises are worth considering an an option.
Not every is aware but normally you can board your cruise boat from around noon to 1pm. You often have until around 5pm to board although you will need to allow time for check in and security at the port. One of the bid advantages of boarding early is that you can immediately head to one of the main restaurants onboard for waited service and for an introduction and welcome meal. The dining room will be fairly quiet and this is a great way to settle in on the boat.
Cruise ships these days tend to be very stable on the water in terms of movement because most have stabilsers. For this reason, the choice of cabin position of the movement of the boat is not really a consideration any more. Noise is the key consideration in my view and in this respect, ask if your room is away from the engine room and from experience, I strongly recommend to stay away from the back of the boat where the water pumps out of the boat.
Contrary to what many people might think, booking at the last minute means the very best cruise deals. The cruise companies do offer some excellent deals and incentives for booking early and some of these offers can be for upgraded rooms and free onboard spending. All very tempting. The very best deals I have seen though have been severely discounted trips if you book within one week before the departure date.
Written by Paul Symonds. Have your own cruise holidays tips? Emai us!