Planning your first cruise

Thinking of booking your first cruise? Granted probably not in the coming months with companies such as P&O Cruises looking to resume operation mid October. However come 2021 I’m confident cruise lines will be back up and running with new safety measures in place and there are great offers to be had!

I’ve been on 5 cruises in the past and there really is something magical about waking up in a new destination after sleeping in a bed that you’re already familiar with.
Here’s a rundown of tips and hints to book your first cruise or maybe something to consider before your next one.
1) know your expectations
Check your budget, allow money onboard the ship for alcohol, excursions in the port or spa treatments. Alot of cruise lines offer you to buy packages before hand this can save you money!

Also every cruise line has a different rule for bringing alcohol on so check before hand. Look at the ship, check the size, the amenties and capacity.
Check out the itinary. The last cruise I took 2 cruise lines had a similar route but one I had around 2 hours a day extra in each port!

2) know what to pack
I find going on a cruise the most challenging trip to pack for. I spent 5 weeks in the Philippines with 7kg hand luggage but took 23kg to 7 nights in Alaska on a cruise ship. You need to think about clothing for off the ship, how’s the climate? But also evening wear, swim wear….maybe even gym clothes for on the ship.
3)  time goes quick!
If it’s your first time on board a cruise ship time flashes by. It’s great to book a few days for a short break but time really does go quick. Especially if you get off at each port. By the time you get back on board change for dinner another day is over.
4) book a balcony….. Or not.
In my personal opinion a balcony cabin is overrated. My last cruise I did in Alaska and the price of a balcony was 600€ for a week more than an inside cabin. I read reviews saying that if you want to have the best alaska cruise you should take a balcony. But these are my reasons for choosing an inside cabin:
* I had the best night sleep, no day light to disturb me. Bare in mind in the height of summer night time darkness is around 4-5 hours.
* I saved 600€ this is 100€ a day to spend on board on drinks or spa treatments.
* It encourages you to leave the room, to explore the top decks and the rest of the ship.
5)  cabin location, you don’t realise until you’re onboard just how big the ship is. Cabin location can be key. Also being near the lifts can bring noise into the cabin that isn’t great if you’re a light sleeper.

6) arrival day
Bring a hand luggage bag with any essentials you might need like a toothbrush, swimwear, medicine and suncream. Your main case might not reach the cabin til later in the day. Either board early or late, not in the middle if you do it might result in a long queue to check in. When you arrive in the cabin check everything is working. You don’t want to wait til you go to bed to find out a light doesn’t work or you’re missing towels.
7) make plans
Look at the port of calls, check out excursions. I’d choose one day to stay on the ship or choose a short excursion so you can check out the ship when it’s empty. Talk to the crew, engage and ask for their views. 

8) think about your health!
It’s easy to gain weight on a cruise with endless food options thrown at you and a 24 hour buffet. Choose the stairs when you can. It’s normally quicker than waiting for the elevator and it burns some calories.  Check out your food options. It’s better to dine in the a la carte restaurants than fill your plate on a buffet.

8) Excursions, in each port of call there’s going to be an extensive list of excursions ranging from half day to full day, adrenaline or slow paced. Excursions can really bump up the price of your trip. It’s good even before booking the cruise to do some research on the ports and see what’s on offer. Often it is cheaper to book through over companies online. Just check that you will be back in time for the ships departure! Many companies offer a guarantee. You can also book dockside which may get you a last minute deal.

9) disembarking
Either leave early or late. Not in-between just like boarding. Remeber normally the a la carte restaurants stay open so don’t queue for the buffet.


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