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Cruise Critic Offers Advice For First Time Cruisers

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Cruise Holiday Questions Answered

Each year nearly two million people take a cruise holiday. However, travel experts believe that number would be much higher if there was more information available about what a cruise holiday is really like.

Thousands of people turn to Facebook to ask important questions about cruise holidays while many more search the net. These questions include sea sickness on a cruise ship, when is the best time to book a cruise holiday, and the benefits of an all-inclusive cruise holiday. We decided to save people time and have spoken to Adam Coulter who is a cruise holiday expert from Cruise Critic to get some of those important cruise holiday questions answered.

We hope by having these cruise holiday questions answered that it will allow those people thinking of going on a cruise holiday to take the next step and make a booking, and enjoy the wonderful life that cruise holidays offer.


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  1. When is the best time to book a cruise holiday to get the best deal 

“Today, there may be more cruise ships to choose from, but there’s also greater demand, with more Brits than ever cruising each year. Popular ships sell out fast, particularly if you’re looking to travel in peak holiday periods, so, if you know when and where you’d like to go, it could be advisable to book early in order to secure your ideal ship, and preferred cabin before they get snapped up.

Tempted to hold out for that last-minute bargain? Yes, you might save some cash, but, know that early bookers can usually snag plenty of value-add promotions and incentives. These can often match the monetary savings you’d make on a last-minute deal, and are typically expenses you’d pay anyway.

Look out for early booking incentives, such as free drinks packages, free onboard credit, cabin upgrades or inclusive gratuities, and compare what different cruise lines and agents are offering. You can search and compare using our Find a Cruise tool.

Then, once you’ve booked in advance you’ve time to relax, research the ports you’re visiting, and look forward to the ultimate trip.”


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  1. tips on dealing with sea sickness

“Seasickness can be a concern for many a new cruiser, but this needn’t be too much of a concern as today’s cruise ship stabilisers help reduce the rocking motion on newer ships. If you’re particularly concerned that you may suffer seasickness, selecting a large cruise ship, and a cabin close to the ship’s balancing point (low and centre) can minimise the risks of motion sickness. Royal Caribbean has some of the largest ships in the world, and Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Cunard can also be good options.

If you select a oceanview or balcony cabin to look out of, this also can reduce sickness. If you’re really concerned you’ll suffer, a river cruise can be a good choice!

  1. Questions that first time cruises need answering

How much alcohol can I take onboard?

“The amount of alcohol you can take onboard is a hot topic for many a cruiser, and while it varies across the lines, cruise lines tend to have strict policies regarding the types of alcoholic beverages that may be brought onboard. For example, Azamara Club Cruises allows passengers to bring spirits, wine and champagne onboard for in-cabin consumption (bars and restaurants accrue a corkage fee), while sister company Celebrity Cruises doesn’t permit any alcohol to be brought on, with the exception of two bottles of wine per stateroom.

If taking alcohol onboard is particularly important to you, to avoid nasty surprises, be sure to check the individual cruise line’s alcohol policies before you book, and certainly before you travel.”


–     How do I pack?   

“With regards to packing, preparation plays an important part, and there are many hacks to utilise, so read up on these before you begin. For example, some key considerations include the ship’s dress code, what types of climates you might encounter on your itinerary, and how much space you’d like to save in your suitcase for souvenirs. For tips and advice, Cruise Critic’s ultimate guide to packing for a cruise is a great starting point.

But, if you find packing restrictions impossible, the good news is that if you’re on a cruise leaving from the UK, it doesn’t matter as you can take as many suitcases as you can fit into your cabin!”

–  Should I pick an inside or outside cabin?

“With various cruise ship cabins in different categories, as a new cruiser, it can be difficult to find the right cruise ship cabin, and know whether to pay extra for an outside cabin or not. There are, of course, benefits to both, and it’s really down to your personal preference. If natural light is essential for you, pick an outside cabin, or even a balcony if you’d like the external space. But, if you don’t plan to spend a lot of time in your cabin throughout the day, an inside cabin could be the ideal way to save some money. For more guidance, check out advice on how to choose a cruise ship cabin.”


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  1. The benefits of an all-inclusive cruise

“While there are varying levels of inclusivity across cruise lines, the reassurance that daily expenses such as meals, accommodation and onboard entertainment is taken care of is paramount for many, and intrinsic to the appeal. If you calculate everything that is included within the price of a cruise, they offer fantastic value when compared with a land-based holiday.

While the majority of the mainstream lines wouldn’t be classed as completely all-inclusive, lines such as Thomson Cruises offer a more inclusive proposition, with tips and service charges and flights included, while some of its ships even include alcohol within the fare.  Luxury cruises tend to include a lot within the cost, with some lines such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises including all alcohol, plus excursions, and Viking Ocean Cruises includes spa access, wine and beer at dinner and lunch, Wi-Fi, and even some shore excursions.”


  1. The difference between a river cruise and a normal cruise

“There are many differences between a river and ocean cruise. A particularly significant difference is that river ships are a lot smaller in size than ocean-going vessels. While river ships carry only a few hundred passengers or less, many ocean ships carry thousands. The smaller ship size means you’ll have less dining and bar options, though you’ll likely have a more intimate experience due to there being less passengers onboard.

Another key difference is that river cruises are typically more inclusive than ocean cruises. For example, while only a few ocean cruises include alcohol with lunch and dinner, almost all river cruises do so. Some river cruises also incorporate tours and excursions within the fare, whereas most ocean cruises do not. Do bear in mind, however, that while river cruise lines serve a good (and usually plentiful) three meals a day, many don’t include free snacks outside of meal times. 


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Onboard entertainment is another key differentiator. River cruise entertainment tends to be low-key, while some of the larger ocean ships have the capacity to offer multiple bars, theatres, cinemas, and even ice skating rinks. 

In terms of itinerary, river cruises pack in a lot, with port-intensive itineraries each day (sometimes more than one port in a day), whereas ocean cruise sailings may include several days at sea.” 

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