What types of cruises are available?
Cruises come in a few varieties and we have outlined some of the details below so you can easily identify which one is for you. There is something to suit everyone.
Cruise: There are multiple variations of cruises but they tend to fit into three categories, regular cruises (those run at set times annually), cruises to nowhere (short cruises that take you out to sea and return again), and repositioning cruises (a cruise that relocates as they finish one scheduled cruise and start another from a new location).
Crossings: A crossing is a transatlantic or transpacific trip on board a ship. Only some cruise liners are built to withstand the harsher conditions of open seas, Cunard is the most famous line that offers this option.
River Cruises: River cruise liners are specially built with shallow bottoms so they can navigate through various locations and not get stuck. These are typically smaller ships and as such hold less passengers (approx 150 - 200).
Cruises are available in a range of lengths from a few days at sea through to a week or two all the way up to months. Eighty to one hundred and twenty day cruises are often broken into multiple segments so you can opt to join just a portion of the cruise, not necessarily the entire journey. For first time cruisers we suggest taking a shorter 4-5 day cruise to ensure you enjoy the experience and to learn what it is all about.
Short cruises can also be linked to other land-based holiday experiences and can include a return flight back home rather than a round trip via water.
It is common to have some sort of travel required in order to get to your ship. It is important to plan plenty of time and ensure you don't arrive late. If you are travelling by plane it is advisable to arrive a day early and stay locally to avoid any problems. Passengers are generally asked to be on-board 2-3 hours prior to departure.
Departing the ship can also take some time as they disembark in groups. When planning your return trip it is important to leave several hours of leeway to ensure you don't miss connections whilst waiting to clear customs.
What happens when I board the ship?
The process starts as you arrive at the cruise terminal. You will unload and attach luggage tags to your bags. This will ensure the staff put your bags in the correct room. Often there are multiple boarding lines split by location on the ship. Patrons will help guide you to the correct line to present your boarding passes and check in. You will be greeted by the ship's photographer for a photo opportunity right before you board the ship.
How do I pick the cruise that will best suit me?
This varies with each person as cruising comes down to personal preferences. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that might help:
Do I want a large ship with lots of people and activities or a smaller, more intimate one? What is more important - the ship or the destination it travels to? Do I want to be at sea or at a destination to travel and explore? Do I want a casual or elegant atmosphere? Do I want to dine at a set time or graze when I feel like it? Do I need a good kids club with activities suited to age? What kind of budget do I have? How long can I get away for?
How do I pick the cabin that will suit me best?
It is important to understand the options available on each ship. Most cabins are divided into groups of inside, ocean view, balcony and suite. Obviously this also escalates in price. The cheaper rooms are inside and the balconies and suites are more expensive. If you are on board to enjoy activities, explore the various destinations then a more affordable suite designed for the short amount of time when you are recharging your batteries might suit just fine. Of course the amount of people you wish to fit into your cabin will also be a governing factor. Quad share offers slightly less option than twin share for instance. Some cabins connect and will suit a family.