About to dive in on your first cruise and it all looks like a huge mess of the unknown. Let us try and shake it up a bit, and set you into thinking hard about how and why before you book. There are two things to choose, the SHIP and the DESTINATION.
Well, there are many more things, like you are entering into a contract with rules at sea, not rules you might think apply back home. Ships are safe, they have less than a third of the crime found on the main land, they have security and cells and they use them. You contract to have insurance, contract to abide by dress code, conduct etc….
SHIP Some people have cruise many many times, all on the same ship and all in the same place, and that may be you. That is what you call lucky, getting it right the first time. We have heard horror stories of how
“the ship seemed like a smoke filled casino” …
“wrong ship for you” we reply.
“But I was using my free travel miles” …..
So how do you choose a ship? If smoking is important some ships allow smoking in the casino, some have cigar rooms, some allow it on certain decks. If that is important, then some research in those areas is key. You cannot smoke in your cabin, it is likely your next cabin will report you, but on some ships your cabin steward can be sacked for not reporting you if you do smoke in the cabin.
If you like entertainment, then the variation is huge. We have heard people boast of great entertainment which was not for us, and that can work in so many ways. Some ships have West End shows, some opera singers, some classical hours. Some ships have a choice of three acts every night….
Food can be about volume, it can be about style. The large classic dining halls of uniformed waiters serving with silver utensils is the movie image that rings true on many ships. Yes most people do dress for dinner. So, enters a new variable dress. Black tie has on many ships now allowed a dark jacket shirt and tie and the ladies always look good. On some ships, after 6pm at night jeans are not allowed anywhere, not even in the buffet and gentlemen must wear a jacket. If dress is a concern then again do some research.
The answers fall in so many ways. The large ships like the Britannia and larger, have vast areas so some areas like the pub deck can be informal, smart jeans and a shirt at night. Here is an area of great fun, from quizzes to Karaoke. The casino is normally on this deck and also accessible in informal wear.
Ships make a great deal of money selling clothes to those who thought they would never need smart or formal wear. We will give you one of a million examples of how it can go wrong … you are having a great time on beach or deck and it ends with that passing comment
“shall we meet tonight, in the lounge?”
And you either suggest the pub, refuse, or buy some clothes. You will make life long friends cruising. Read your itinerary, there may be a masked ball night (same dress, wear a mask), there may be a black and white night, an Abba night, a Hawaiian night. People will dress, in vast numbers.
In short, the large ships offer more options, especially to multiple generations travelling together. Small ships can be more formal and dressy but have less options on entertainment.
DESTINATION – To fly to the Caribbean and wake up at a new beach each day is a great beach holiday, but you may never get a sea day. A sea day is a day at sea. The most sea days you will ever get in a row is about ten, ten days at e=sea and you know you have cruised. So a caribbean cruise is a beach holiday on a floating hotel, the trans-atlantic crossing is a serious all at sea cruise, and the Panama Canal to Tahiti is even more seriously at sea.
The Baltic cruise is a different historical city each day with so much to do you will want to go again and again, but you will walk your fit bit off the scale. The Fjords is majestic and peaceful with water like glass, but if you have been skiing regularly you might wonder what a lot of the fuss is about. However, ships going between contains is quite something. That Canary Islands is a good first cruise, normally from Southampton to Southampton, you will get to stop at Cadiz or Lisbon, may take in Casablanca in West Africa, get to see the beautiful Madeira and three of four of the Canary Islands. The Mediterranean is a great cruise, history and beaches, and the Greek Islands are fantastic. Then the World cruise is where you seriously unpack, the room is your home, and that cruise is nothing, absolutely nothing like a Caribbean cruise.
You might look for a great route, that has something special like Key West, or New Orleans, you may need visas and inoculations and sea sickness bands. But ships are prone to weather, so you can miss the whole of a Greek Islands cruise because the sea is too rough, and you will be looking to see if you took out missed ports insurance. These are so cheap if bought before you go, and there is no excuse not to keep them in your case.
If this blog has helped, all we ask is that when you have cruised you send us some tips so we can expand our tips for others. Share and enjoy your cruise.