Cruise Holidays: a guide for first-timers
Cruise holidays are always incredibly exciting, especially the first time around. It’ll be an adventure like no other, and you’ll likely have multiple questions on your mind surrounding your first cruise.
We’ve put together a simple guide, detailing all you’ll need to know about making the most of your cruise experience.
Research your route
Depending on your reasons for deciding to go on the cruise, you might want to spend all your time aboard or explore the ports you stop at. But not all cruise holidays offer the latter – researching the route beforehand will help you figure out where you’ll visit and when.
It’s actually quite common to be ashore every day, so if you’re someone who would like to venture to new destinations, ensure there’s plenty of port stops that allow at least a few hours to sightsee.
There’s a number of cruise holidays that offer excursion options in each port. These can include tours that cover nature, adventure, and special interests, as well as exploration you can carry out yourself.
Choose your dates
When you want to go on your cruise will largely depend on personal preference and the dates you can get time off from work or other responsibilities. But cruise holidays don’t often come cheap, so price can also be a big factor in determining when you book it for.
Generally, cruises will have peak, moderate and low demand throughout the year, with the latter often being the cheapest time to book. Peak demand usually occurs during the summer holidays and when the weather’s best, which is ideal for family cruise holidays. If these aspects don’t matter much to you, choosing dates which are lower in cost offers the added benefit of uncrowded ports.
Asia’s high season is November to March due to the weather, as is Australia’s. This is also the time that typhoons hit in Australia, so cruising some waters could potentially be tough. Canada offers average temperatures around 20°C and fall foliage viewing from late September to mid-October, and the Caribbean’s driest season is from December to April.
Plan events and activities
When deciding from the cruise holidays available, take a look at the common activities you can take part in. If you opt for the Caribbean, then you can get a thrill taking part in water sports; or, in Moreton Island just off the coast of Queensland, you can feed the dolphins and fishermen can catch a bite.
You could even learn new skills whilst exploring the ports, such as wrestling at the sumo museum in Hakodate, Japan. Or you can marvel at beautiful bird’s-eye views on a helicopter flight in Juneau, Alaska.
There’s plenty of events and activities to plan for whilst you’re onboard as well. Opportunities range from fencing training, boosting your photography skills, doing a spot of yoga, or being taught different languages or musical instruments.
What to pack for cruise holidays
Cabins generally don’t offer much space for your belongings, so try bringing the minimum amount possible. For cruise holidays in areas with a large mosquito population, consider bringing repellent. If you’re exploring or gazing at far distances, then you might like to take along a camera or binoculars too.
Clothing-wise, you’ll need to check the ship’s dress code in case formal wear is required for evening meals. Depending on the weather expected along your route, a rain coat, umbrella, sunhat and sun cream might all be necessary.
There’s also the absolute essentials – like travel documents and a passport or visa, as well as cash and bank cards. Ships offer only the basic toiletries like shower gel and shampoo, so don’t forget your washbag with your toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.
Additional tips and advice
You may opt to pick from a list of luxury cruise holidays to take time away from technology. But others may find a digital detox of that length to be a bit too long. Most ships will offer WiFi hotspots at varying prices - but check to see if this service is provided on your chosen cruise.
A common fear before going on cruise holidays is seasickness, especially if you either suffer from motion sickness or you’ve never been at sea before. If it does affect you, try to keep midship, and use acupressure bands, medication and natural remedies.
If none of these work, an injection can be provided by the ship’s doctor, though this could potentially require travel insurance. Other illnesses can affect you too when in close proximity to others, so get to know the symptoms of common viruses and the medical procedures and policies of your cruise ship.