At the ripe old age of 32 I have been fortunate enough to sail the seas of the world on 5 different cruise ships. During this time I have seen some amazing landmarks including the Inside Passage of Alaska, The Baltic Seas and mother Russia, Ancient cities including Jerusalem and tropical oasis in the South Pacific.
Cruising maybe associated with an older clientele however from my experience it really does offer an outstanding holiday for every demographic, from honeymooners to families, to retirees to singles looking to meet new friends. The key here is making sure you do your research and speak to our cruise experts to get on to the right ship for you.
Here are my top 10 reasons why a holiday on water is the perfect escape:
- Unpack Once – CHECK – Have you travelled from city to city, buying more and more cloths, souvenirs, presents to take home and that you need to pack in to your bag? Finding that each time you have to zip that suitcase up it becomes tighter and tighter, you are now officially having a fight with your bag, will it last the distance, will the zip eventually give way and you need to buy a new bag!? Well if you embark on your cruising holiday you literally only need to unpack and pack once. AMAZING! This was one of the things I love about cruising. You can hang all of your cloths up in the wardrobe of your cabin and know that they are going to remain there for the rest of the trip rather than rummaging through your bag looking for that one item you can’t see or find.
Nic’s HOT TIP – Unpack the first night you leave port because having everything organised and in place will make for an easier and fun filled trip.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION – Check with your cruise expert or directly with the cruise company your luggage allowance because this will vary from cruise line to cruise line.
- Excursions – CHECK – One of the many highlights of cruising are the on shore excursions you get to go on when the ship docks at each destination. The excursions can get very heavily booked so I would recommend checking this out before getting on the ship and pre booking or making sure you go straight to the tours desk as soon as this opens on Day 1 so not to miss out. When we were cruising in the Baltics we didn’t need to pre-organise our own visas for Russia because we could get this through the cruise liner and taking one of their tours. We docked in St Petersburg for 2 days and on the first day took a 17 hour tour to the absolutely stunning city of Moscow where every minute was worth the journey from seeing the beautiful colours and buildings in the Red Square to dining in one of the most beautiful hotels with sky high ceilings encrusted in gold and eating caviar – this was an experience etched in our memories forever.
Nic’s HOT TIP – Do an excursion where you know the tour will take you to places you cannot go to or do yourself ie: flying to Moscow, helicopter ride up to the glacier in Alaska because there are destinations where you can take the hop on hop off bus and still experience the city at your own pace.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION – Make sure you add in the cost to do the cruise excursions when you are budgeting for your cruise so you get to do everything you want because we wouldn’t want you to miss out.
- Online Check In – CHECK – This is such a great feature to use make sure you check in online and then you can drop off your bags earlier in the day and explore the city your ship is departing from at your own leisure. Check in usually commences from about 11am and as long as you are back boarding the ship by the latest 4.30pm you will miss all of the big queues by doing it this way.
Nic’s HOT TIP – By checking in online not only are you saving time but you also don’t need to fill out any forms at the pier.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION- Make sure you have the following info to hand making the process of check in online as smooth as possible:
- Ship, sailing date and cruise reservation number
- Passport or appropriate proof of citizenship and identification
- Home address
- Emergency contact name with phone number
- Travel plans before and after your cruise
- Credit card for the On-board Expense Account
- Drinks Package – CHECK – If you like to enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner, or a pre-dinner or post cocktail, or perhaps a soft drink for the kids then I would definitely recommend pre-purchasing the drinks package. We did this on our last cruise when sailing the Baltic and for USD50 per person per day we definitely got our values worth. You can choose between the standards drink package and the premium package, which will vary in cost and from cruise liner to cruise liner.
Nic’s HOT TIP – Make sure you check the price of the drink you are purchasing because a lot of the packages cap at USD 12-15 per drink – it’s normally for the wines / champagne you need to be aware of.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION – Make sure you purchase the drinks package either with your cruise expert, online or as you are checking in at the port because once you are on board the ship you can no longer opt in for this package.
- Entertainment – CHECK – There is so much going on, on your cruise at any given time that not only can you never be bored but you may struggle to get around to everything. Now to stay ahead of the game make sure you read your daily cruise newsletter, which will be delivered to your cabin for your nightly turn down service. This will let you know your dining options for the following day, what theatre shows and movies are on, classes you can take and auctions you can attend and much, much more. A cruise liner is really a resort on water with everything at your fingertips. Your newsletter will let you know what is happening from 6am for the early risers who want to join a jogging team to late night disco tunes at the nightclub.
Nic’s HOT TIP – On sea days the on board activities can get really busy so make sure you get there nice and early to secure your seat or ticket.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION – If you enjoy having a flutter get to the casino for a game of black jack or roulette.
- Sea Days – CHECK – On board your cruise you will always have at least 2 sea days on your itinerary depending on how long your cruise goes for. The longer the cruise the more sea days you may have if travelling a distance. Your sea days usually fall on your second day on board and your second to last day because this is when you are sailing the most distance. These days are great to take advantage of the many things to do on board which you might not if you are out and about in port. This also gives you an opportunity to soak up some pool time on the many sun beds that your cruise liner has to offer, catch up on your favourite book whilst staring out into the beautiful ocean and you also never know depending on what waters you are in what marine life you might see. When cruising in Alaska we were fortunate enough to make one of my life long dreams come true by seeing Blue Whales. The captain announced over the speaker where they were at any given time and if you could get to that side of the ship you were graced with the beauty of the seas.
Nic’s HOT TIP – Enjoy a nice lazy sleep in on your sea day these are the days on the cruise where you don’t need to get up at the crack of dawn.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION – If you like to pamper yourself by getting your hair done, having a massage or a facial then I would highly recommend pre-booking these on your sea days because everyone is on board and appointments get heavily booked up.
- Cruise Dining – CHECK – There are many options with where to dine on your cruise, the challenge isn’t going to be “I’m hungry” it will be “I’ve eaten too much”. If you are a lover of variety then you really have come to the right place. All cruise liners now have the casual buffet dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner with absolutely amazing spreads daily. It’s unbelievable how many people they need in the kitchen to feed 2500 + people.Then of course you have your speciality restaurants. Depending on your cabin type will determine which restaurants are included and which you will pay extra for.If you are single or in a couple and looking to meet new people then you might like the traditional assigned seating where you are allocated and sit with the same people each night. This is how my grandfather met my grandmother many, many moons ago. If you prefer to dine intimately with your partner or your family then you can reserve a private table with beautiful ocean views. The peak times can get busy so reservations maybe required. You will have formal nights on the cruise, which is a beautiful tradition that is still upheld. These are usually sea days and men are in black tie or suits and ladies in gowns or dresses. Not everyone takes to this tradition but I think it is your holiday and what better excuse to get dolled up than a formal night J.
Nic’s HOT TIP – For the speciality restaurants watch out for their special deals these are held on days docked at port with late night departures.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION – Now remember some dining rooms still have the two dinner seatings at 6.30 and 8.30 which you need to either pre-book before your cruise departs or whilst on board. Other liners have more flexibility where you can dine between the opening hours, however for peak times and tables of 4 or more it is recommended to pre-book so you are not waiting around.
- Special Occasion – CHECK – If you are cruising for special occasion whether that is an anniversary, honeymoon, birthday be sure to let your cruise know in advance so they can make a special fuss of you on the day. They will normally decorate your door and leave something nice inside for you to celebrate this special occasion.
Nic’s HOT TIP – If you want to keep the surprise for the person you are travelling with be sure to let your cruise expert know so they can organise this for you.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION – This could be a good night to book one of the speciality restaurants and splash out to really enjoy your special occasion.
- Cruising Secrets – CHECK – If you are a first time cruiser or an expert there can be a few hidden secrets that even the savviest of people don’t know about. A couple of these are that room service is free of charge except late night on certain cruise lines. On embarkation day most people swarm to the buffet lunch so this can be absolutely jam-packed. Many cruise ships have alternative venues open such as the main dining room, the atrium and the solarium. I know on our Baltic Cruise I discovered the delicious sushi buffet, which only a few people had discovered. To find out where these are ask a crewmember or check your newsletter.
Nic’s HOT TIP – Tipping or gratuities as they can be referred to are heavily apart of the cruising culture. This is historically done at the end of your cruise however if you want something extra done then slipping your room attendant an early tip can always help.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION – Remember tipping is voluntary and done like anywhere if good service has been provided. This is up to your discretion; the main people to consider are your room attendant and any outstanding bar or wait staff you have come into contact with.
- Pre & Post Accommodation – CHECK – When booking your cruise if you are not leaving from the city that you live you will want to think about getting there a day or two early or stay later to enjoy all of what the city has to offer. I know when we were travelling to the “Holy Land” our cruise departed from Athens and finished in Istanbul. Although Athens was not on my radar to visit at the time we spent one night and half a day there due to flight times and I was nicely surprised by this ancient city, with it’s beautiful architecture, abundant cafes, shopping and of course the striking Parthenon. Similarly arriving into Istanbul a city I had visited once before, seeing this amazing city from a different vantage point as we sailed in affronted with the stunning skyline of the old and new city was one to remember. We stayed an extra two days there going back to the ancient Turkish baths and basking in a traditional massage, soaked up the famous Bazaar and drank Turkish coffee whilst sucking on different flavoured shisha’s.
Nic’s HOT TIP – Location, Location, Location! When booking your pre and post accommodation make sure you are centrally located to the city’s attraction and you know how long it will take you to get to the ship.
Nic’s RECOMMENDATION – You can either organise a transfer to and from the cruise or simply grab a cab which normally works out to be more economical.
I trust you found this blog beneficial. We would love to hear from you and your experiences and of course any thoughts, feedback and questions you might have on the thread below.
To book your next cruise email us at firstname.lastname@example.org/1000-mile-test
Until next time.