This article will likely answer some of those nagging questions about what it’s like to go on a cruise, from prepping to what to expect while on board.
Before You Go
Get a Passport
All cruisers will need a passport in order to travel. Even British people touring the British Isles must hold a valid passport which conforms to the entry requirements of each destination visited.
Best Time to Book a Cruise
The best time to book a holiday is generally as far in advance as possible. The booking sweet spot, also known as the “wave season,” is from January to March. This is the period when a lot of popular cruises first go on sale and travelers can get the best deals, as fares often rise as the ship fills up. Cruise lines often announce itineraries 18 months or more in advance, so the best cruising deals can be found by planning a trip well ahead.
Planning a cruise holiday early is especially important if there are specialist needs in terms of the type of cabin or stateroom. There are usually only a very small number of family cabins or interconnecting cabins on-board even the most modern of cruise ships, so it pays to book early to secure the accommodation needed. The same is true for disabled or solo traveler cabins.
Types of Cruises
With so many options available, choosing the right cruise line can make all the difference. Consider traveling partners, budget, experiences desired from a cruise, and dream destinations. Whereas expedition cruises go to some of the most remote parts of the world, luxury river cruises are perfect for travelling through land-locked countries and for visiting famous cities.
Booking Shore Excursions
For the best selection and guaranteed availability, cruisers should book shore excursions before travel, although it may still be possible to book once onboard. Excursions are usually included free of charge on luxury and ultra-luxury cruises, which is one of the main benefits. Always compare the total cost of the cruise and not the initial fare or ticket price.
What Kind of Clothes to Pack
These days, most cruise lines operate a casual dress code. Cruisers to warmer climates tend to opt for beach wear or shorts and t-shirts during the day and smart-casual wear in the evening. A few cruise lines will include a gala dinner as part of the onboard itinerary, where guests are invited to wear their finest clothes or dress to a specific theme. Travelers who are feeling unsure about the clothes they will need to pack for their cruise should speak to a leading cruise retailer.
Going along with what to pack, packing enough clothes for a long excursion is a difficult task for many. Luckily, cruisers are able to make use of onboard laundry services to get longevity from their luggage. Many cruise lines offer laundry services for passengers meaning they can re-wear their clothes and don’t have to worry about packing weeks’ worth of clothes. Such services are included free of charge on luxury cruise lines but are usually chargeable on lower tiered lines.
Arriving On Board
Many cruise lines allow passengers to check in online and upload all of security details electronically. This is also where vaccine proof can be provided if required for the countries being visited. Many cruise lines have their own mobile phone apps to allow passengers to easily update this information. Once check in is done, cruisers are encouraged to simply unpack, sit back, and enjoy the experience.
Be Prepared for the Muster Drill
The muster drill is a mandatory safety exercise which all passengers will have to take part in after boarding their cruise. Under Maritime Law, each cruise line is required to hold a safety briefing before departing, the drill familiarizes all passengers and crew with the muster station. This means everyone onboard knows what to do in case of an emergency.
Paying for Things Onboard
Every cruise line handles onboard payments slightly differently. As a general rule purchases are made using a cruise card, a multipurpose credit card sized card which also acts as an ID and room key. Some lines will give passengers a bracelet which allows them to pay as well. Increasingly, mobile phone apps are allowing people to book chargeable aspects of their cruise too from restaurant reservations to cruise excursions. Mobile phone apps can also be used to operate cabin-based technology such as curtain blinds and televisions.
Typically with luxury and ultra-luxury cruises, all entertainment will be included within the cruise package with the exception perhaps of the casino (if available). Although popular on US cruise lines many smaller European ships will not feature a casino at all.
Getting Back From Shore Excursions
If a cruise-line organized excursion is booked, the ship will wait for passengers to return even if late. Otherwise, it is the passengers’ responsibility to get back to the ship before it departs. Always make a note of the ship’s contact details plus departure time and make sure when booking any non-cruise organized excursions to allow plenty of time to get back on the ship. Don’t risk the chance of being left behind.
Healthcare On Board
For any sea-sick or unwell passengers onboard a cruise, most ships will have a doctor or extensive medical facilities, just ask any cruise staff for help. Any urgent cases of injury or sickness will be airlifted off the ship if at sea. All passengers are encouraged to take sea sickness medication or wear travel wrist bands just in case the weather turns bad.
Thanks to Panache Cruises for sifting through the most burning questions potential cruises passengers have to provide these answers.