If you’re thinking about going on a cruise next year, you’re among the hundreds of thousands of people who plan on doing exactly the same.
Figures published in March this year highlighted the immense popularity of cruises as a holiday option. According to the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA), the number of people leaving UK ports on cruises rose by 10% in 2012 to a record high of 962,000.
With cruises becoming increasingly popular among holidaymakers – and more affordable – experiencing life on board a cruise ship is more a reality than an aspiration.
So what do first-timers need to know before going on their first sea voyage to foreign lands?
Holiday hunt in advance
Generally speaking, the earlier you book the better the deal you will get. You will also enjoy the widest range of dates and cabins available, which may be best if you have non-negotiable preferences or inflexible dates. However, if you can be more flexible, booking at the last minute can save you money.
Choose your perfect destination
Cruises go all over the world so there is plenty of choice when it comes to selecting a destination. From the cultural gems of Europe to the sunny Mediterranean; from the bright white beaches of the Caribbean to the shining white glaciers of Alaska, there is something to suit all tastes.
Select your ship
Regardless of age, needs, preferences and budget, everyone can enjoy cruise holidays especially when you spend time choosing the right ship for you. Thomas Cook Holidays have an impressive fleet of cruise ships designed for different holidaymakers; for example Disney cruises may be more suitable for children and families whereas celebrity cruises are perfect for those looking for an indulgent holiday swathed in luxury.
Packing for a cruise
The great thing about cruising is that ships are generally very well-equipped and have everything you need on board, making it incredibly convenient and taking the stress out of a holiday.
When rifling through your wardrobe and choosing which clothes to take, remember to put a couple of smart outfits in your suitcase – some cruises have a formal night or evening entertainment that you fancy dressing up for. While you can buy toiletries on board, these are likely to be sold at a premium so it is advisable to bring your own.
Read all information provided
When it’s the first time doing anything, people often feel more comfortable when they know what to expect, so be sure to read everything you are sent before your holiday. You will also receive a welcome pack including maps of the ship when you step on board.