Planning a cruise can be overwhelming. There are so many things to consider – which ship? Where to go? And how long for? All Things Business spoke to Rob Gower of Dragonfly Traveller and he gave us his tops tips and do’s and don’ts when it comes to booking a cruise.
The key rule of booking a cruise is to book as early as possible. These days you can book most cruises up to two years in advance. Also, if you decide to book early, you can benefit from early booking offers such as onboard credit, free beverage packages and inclusive gratuity packages. This is also the best time to book if you are particular about which type of cabin you would like to stay in. The earlier you book, the more choice you will have.
You can also find some good deals if you book late, usually around three months prior to departure, as the cruise companies will be trying to fill the ship before departure. However, you will find that the best cabins will be booked by this time, so if you have your mind set on a specific cabin, these may not be available to you if you are booking last minute.
When looking to book your cruise, low fares don’t always mean the best value. You should look for prices that include items such as drinks packages, Wi-Fi, and shore excursions. You will most likely pay more in the fare price, but you will get better value as buying add-ons on board will prove more expensive and you and your wallet may have a shock at the end of your cruise!
Not all cruises suit everyone. You will find that the bigger ships come with plenty of onboard entertainment, water slides and wave machines, which are not to everyone’s taste. There are smaller ships with less passengers and some of the larger cruise ships carry thousands of passengers. What suits you is a personal choice.
When choosing the right cruise, it is important to get the balance of days at sea versus number of ports stops. For example, you may find that some Caribbean cruises look like a great deal, but you don’t get to visit all the islands. If you are a first-time cruiser, it may be best to talk to an expert and tell them what you like and dislike so they can find a bespoke cruise to suit you.
It is easy to lose track of time when you are on your cruise ship, especially when in port. Normally, when your cruise ship docks at a port, you get around eight hours on land. It is possible to pre -book excursions that fill your days on land via your cruise liner or travel agent. Although these can be expensive. One benefit of doing this, is they will make sure you are back in time to board your ship. If you do decide to make your own plans on shore and you are late back, the ship will not wait for you, so please remember to keep an eye on the time.
It is best to plan your personal itinerary before you go on your cruise if you can. Consider things like your dining options onboard and book tables at your chosen restaurants on the ship before your board. Also look at the entertainment options on the ship and consider if you need to pre-book tickets to anything.
Wherever you decide to go, plan as much of it ahead before you set sail. That way you get to enjoy your cruise and not stress over decision-making whilst on your cruise.
Rob Gower of Dragonfly Traveller works as a travel PA, building bespoke holidays and trips for customers. Call 01604 661100 or visit www.dragonflytraveller.co.uk to find out more.