Each year nearly two million people take a cruise, but according to our research that figure would increase if it was not for one thing; lack of information. After speaking to one hundred people who have never taken a cruise before we found people were reluctant to book a cruise due to not knowing what it was like and first-time cruise frequently asked questions being hard to find.
Mr. Roberts from Manchester explained that he and his wife have considered booking a cruise for many years but were not sure if they would like it or not. He said: “I love to try new things, but a cruise does me nervous. The last thing I want to do is to go on a cruise holiday and find out that I am either over dressed or under dressed.”
Another person we spoke to was Mrs. Ward from Sale, Manchester who wanted to book a cruise as a 60th birthday present for her husband. However, she was worried about getting sea sick as well as being claustrophobic. “I know ships are big, but I felt claustrophobic when I went on a ferry from Dover, and I don’t want to go on a cruise if I feel the same as it would spoil my holiday,” explained Mrs. Ward.
It seems the lack of information available about what a cruise is like and frequently asked questions for first-time cruisers being hard to find; people are put off from enjoying a wonderful experience. So, we decided to speak to IGLU Cruise (www.iglucruise.com), the experts in affordable cruising holidays and asked them to answer some first-time cruise frequently asked questions.
First time cruise FAQ’s
What’s so great about cruising?
With almost everything included in the price, cruising makes fantastic value for money. If you choose a cruise and compare it with the price of a land holiday (taking into account flights, transfers, food, accommodation, activities etc) a cruise will win hands down on value for money.
Travelling to multiple destinations and unpacking once is a huge advantage of cruising. No other holiday can offer you this and with no luggage allowance you can take as much as you want. You can fall asleep in Australia and wake up in Fiji! Or visit seven different countries in as many days!
One of the biggest attractions to cruising is having everything right on your doorstep as you travel the world, including entertainment from Broadway shows and acrobatic shows to jazz bars and karaoke. Numerous restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world, often concocted by celebrity chefs. Bars like chic champagne lounges, ice bars and olde English pubs. Activities from surf simulators to TV game shows. Leisure facilities like world class spas, beauty therapies and services.
Is cruising suitable for young people?
Cruise lines cater for everyone and have rapidly grown to become one of the most popular holiday choices for families and young couples. However, choosing the right cruise line for you is important as some lines do tend to attract certain age groups. It has been revealed that the average age of people cruising is 50 years old, and the average age of a first time cruiser is 37 years old.
Will I be bored?
There is no possible way you can find yourself bored on a cruise ship. Whether you go away to relax, explore or try new activities a cruise ship has something for everyone. With rock climbing walls, ice-skating, game shows, parades and much more, the schedule of activities onboard a cruise is endless.
Will I get sea sick?
There is an extremely slim chance you will get sea sick onboard a cruise ship as they are large vessels that have been built with modern stabilisers to reduce movement. If by any chance you do happen to feel sea sick, the onboard medical facility can offer you complimentary medication to help. To avoid any chance of becoming sea sick choose a cabin in the middle of the ship, this will ensure maximum stability.
Will I get time in port?
One of the main attractions of a cruise is the fascinating places you travel to. Cruise lines will allow certain amounts of time in port ensuring enough time for you to see a fair amount of each location. Ships will travel during the night so they arrive for a full day in port. To fully explore a destination you can add a pre or post hotel stay to your cruise allowing you maximum time in your favourite departure port. Certain cruise lines are now starting to offering cruise and stay holidays in many destinations too.
Is it claustrophobic?
The ships are so large and have many different venues onboard that it never feels crowded. With so much going on at the same time it is unlikely you will continuously bump into the same people. If you are worried about this then we would suggest maybe going for a larger ship.
Do I have to dress formally every night?
Again, depending on what cruise line you choose the dress code may differ and some cruises are more formal than others. However, in general most cruises will have a couple of formal nights during your stay and the rest will be casual.
Will I just eat all day long?
This myth is completely false. Yes, food is an important part of a cruise and there is a wide range of cuisine available to you most of the time, however it doesn’t mean it is shoved in your face! You can eat when you want and as much as you want.
Choosing the right type of cruise
There are so many different types of cruises you can easily feel overwhelmed trying to work out which one would be best for you. Here are a few different types plus some highlights to help you narrow down your search.
- Mini cruise and taster cruises– Mini cruises and taster cruises are ideal for first time cruisers. Mini cruises usually last a couple of nights and make the perfect weekend getaway. Sail from the UK on a mini cruise and you’ll likely get a great introduction to Northern Europe as well as a great introduction to cruising.
- Cruises from the UK– Many cruise lines offer a great range of cruises that sail straight from the UK from ports like Southampton, Harwich, Tilbury, Liverpool and more. When you choose a cruise sailing from the UK you can start your holiday straight away and enjoy the hassle-free process of arriving straight to your port for embarkation.
- Fly-Cruises– A fly cruise involves catching a flight to meet up with your chosen cruise ship in your desired destination. This gives you the chance to travel far and wide, cruising to destinations you may never have thought possible. A fly-cruise is a great way to do one section of a world cruise where you can meet up with your ship to sample a section of the itinerary.
- River cruises- These types of cruises are fantastic for cultural immersion. You cruise directly into the heart of cities and most land excursions are included as standard. There tend to be more ports of call since less area needs to be covered meaning you can spend more time enjoying the destinations. They are a great starting point for anyone who may be worried about getting sea sick.
- Cruise & Stay- Cruise and stay holidays are a great way to see more of your desired destination. Spend a night or two on land in addition to your cruise and get the best of both worlds. Ideal for those who would like a bit more time to explore on land.
- Luxury cruise– If you prefer a more tentative service, larger staterooms and an overall more inclusive experience then luxury cruises are best suited to you.
- World Cruise– A world cruise does exactly what it says on the tin. Choose a world cruise and you can sail to several exciting destinations worldwide. World cruises can last from anything between 30 days to 6 months. Choose a world cruise if you have time to spare and want to experience a good variety of destinations.
- Themed cruises– From arts and literature cruises to Disney film theme cruises, cruises that take you to the Grand Prix, Calgary Stampede and Rocky Mountaineer and more! Themed cruises are all the rage and perfect for anyone with a real passion or hobby to top off a great holiday.
- Transatlantic Cruises– Transatlantic cruises have long been a popular choice for cruise holidays. You can sail transatlantic and experience a traditional British style cruise with Cunard. Your entire cruise will be spent at sea and generally these sailings arrive in New York where you can explore and enjoy the Big Apple.
- Single cruises– Many cruise lines are now catering towards the solo traveller than ever before. As well as offering low or no single supplements and dedicated cabins, they make arrangements for solo travellers to meet and dine with each other if they wish. Several cruise lines are now even offering dance partners for solo travellers.
- Yacht cruises- Perfect for anyone who loves the water – there is no other cruise holiday that offers so much opportunity for water sports, with most equipment included as standard. These cruises also appeal to anyone who wants a real adventure and wants to experience destinations that larger ships are unable. It is also a very romantic way to cruise and offers very high staff to guest ratios.
Choosing the right ship
One of the most important factors to consider when booking your first cruise is choosing the ship and cruise line that is right for you. With over 40 different cruise lines and hundreds of ships, it can be hard to understand the difference. The first thing you need to ask yourself is; what do you want from your cruise holiday? Do you like to go away to relax? Explore new destinations? Try new activities? Meet friends? Get a tan? Take the family away? All of these factors need to be considered when choosing a cruise ship.
There are larger ships that promote themselves as the main destination, smaller ships that are more port focused and luxury ships that offer much more of an intimate atmosphere. A common trend within the cruising industry is that the smaller ships will go to more unique destinations and the larger ships tend to go to fewer stops and visit larger ports. Therefore you need to weigh up the importance of onboard activity and destinations on your holiday.
Here are some recommendations based on the 2017 UK Cruisers’ Choice Awards.
- Best ships for first time cruisers: Freedom of the Seas, Norwegian Jade, Celebrity Constellation, Aurora, TUI Discovery
- Best large ships overall: Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse, Norwegian Jade
- Best mid-sized ships overall: Riviera, Thomson Spirit, Queen Victoria, TUI Discovery, Thomson Celebration
- Best small ships overall: Viking Star, Viking Sea, Saga Sapphire, Boudicca, Seven Seas Explorer
- Best for families: Harmony of the Seas, Thomson Dream, Norwegian Epic, Celebrity Eclipse, Britannia
A few final top tips
- Before booking your cruise, take a look through the Iglu Cruise website for more information on different cruise line’s and ships or simply call their sales team who can offer expert advice and assistance to help you find a suitable cruise.
- Sign up to Iglu Cruise’s newsletters. With so much competition in the cruise industry nowadays you can find some incredible prices which are snapped up quickly. Be among the first to know about the hottest deals with their email alerts.
- Book a cabin that suits you. If you think you will spend most of your time away from your room then you can go for an interior cabin, however if you want the true experience of being at sea , then make sure you book a balcony room.
Before you cruise
- Plan what you would like to do in the ports of call before you get onboard. Research the destination and try to get a list of excursions the cruise line offers.
- Pack appropriately, there is no luggage limit on a cruise so you take as much stuff as you like. There is likely to be a formal night so pack an evening dress/suit for this.
- Ensure you take the correct documentation; passports, visas, confirmation and onboard account form.
- Depending where your cruise is departing from it is often a good idea to spend the night before in a hotel, ensuring you do not miss the ship due to flight delays or travel problems.
On your cruise
- Ensure your onboard account is set up. When you board you are given a card that will be your room key, entry to the ship and used for all onboard charges. You can link this to your credit card, pay in cash at the end, or make cash payments throughout your cruise if you wish.
- Ensure you know your way around the ship, try to know your way from your room to the dining room, theatre and your favourite places.
- If you do not know already, find out how the tipping onboard works. Some cruise lines include gratuities in the price of your cruise, some automatically charge them to your onboard account and some leave it up to you.
- Every day you will receive a schedule of what is going on around the ship. Have a look at this every morning so you can work out what you want to see and ensure you do not miss anything. Good idea to pack a highlighter!
- Make the most of the ports. It is likely you chose your cruise because of the destinations, so ensure you wake up early and get off the ship as soon as you can to start exploring.
IGLU Cruise (0203 733 5557) said, that those who have been on a cruise for the first time are reluctant to go on a normal beach holiday, showing how wonderful a cruise is.
So, if you have always wanted to go on a cruise but was not sure what a cruise was like or what you should wear, we hope our frequently asked questions for first time cruisers has helped. Remember, if you go on a cruise or even a holiday, share your pictures with us at @In2townmagazine so we can retweet them and share them with our followers.