02 Mar A first-timer’s guide to cruise holiday planning

Planning your first cruise holiday can seem overwhelming. There are hundreds of cruise companies out there, each with their own list of itineraries and exotic destinations. The best way to navigate the ever-changing cruise world is to decide what type of cruise you’re looking for first. Whether it’s a singles cruise for one, a romantic honeymoon cruise or a fun-filled family holiday, there’s a ship out there for you. This handy first-time cruiser’s guide will help you narrow down the options and find that perfect holiday on the seas.

Finding your destination

With an ever expanding list of itineraries, cruise ships these days travel to every corner of the world. The first thing that needs to be decided is how long you’d like to be on a cruise for. Some cruise ships are at sea for months at a time, while other journeys last only three to four days. The longest cruise itinerary was unveiled recently by luxury cruise line Mundy Cruising and visits seven continents over 357 days.

If you haven’t got over a years’ worth of holiday stored up, plenty of two to three week cruises travel to some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Leaving from the United Kingdom you can cruise to Portugal, Italy, Spain, the Canary Islands, America and Canada just to name a few. Decide first which country you’d like to explore, whether it’s the sunny shores of the Canaries or the glacier peaks of Alaska.

Choosing the right cruise ship

Now that you know your destination you can narrow it down to which cruise ship you’d like to travel on. Cruise ships are built for your entertainment and enjoyment and vary from child friendly fun-zones to quiet and peaceful adults-only ships. If you have children you might want to go with a ship that includes more kid-centred activities, like outdoor pools with slides, rock climbing walls and kids’ clubs to keep the little ones entertained.

Marella Cruises has several ships ticking these family boxes, including Marella Discovery 2 with game zones, baby centres and fun interactive shows. For a slightly more relaxing holiday, P&O Cruises have their own adult-only ships, Adonia and Arcadia, which cater to a more sophisticated customer and have extensive spas and impressive art galleries with over 3,000 works of art.

Picking the perfect stateroom

Choosing the right stateroom depends on your budget and the number of people in your party. A standard cruise ship cabin will be the least expensive option and run from about 120 square feet to 180 square feet. These cabins are small, but tastefully decorated and full of all the basic amenities you need including a shower, controlled air conditioning/heating, a closet, telephone and satellite television. You can also choose to pay a little more money and get a standard room with a porthole or window.

Going up from those you have your cabins with balconies or verandas, which mean you can lie on your bed and see the ocean. There are also suites which have their own sitting room and usually a bathtub. If you’re spending more than a few weeks at sea, a suite or cabin with a balcony will give you the most room. These more luxurious staterooms are ideal for travelling with more than two people, and often have pull-out sofa beds or an extra bedroom.

Planning your excursions

If you’re eager to get to port and explore your chosen destination, make sure to book your excursions ahead of time. Cruise ships have their own activity co-ordinator who organises specific trips at your destination. Whether it’s a cooking class, historic tour, beach trip or wine tasting there are bound to be several activities that take your fancy. Of course you can plan your own activities, but these structured events are handy as the cruise line will sort your transportation and all the little details for you.

There’s a lot to organise when it comes to your first cruise holiday, but once it’s done and sorted you’ll soon become your own cruise expert. Are you planning your first cruise any time soon? Let me know where you’re going in the comments below.

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Victoria Brewood

Hi I'm Victoria, a British girl from Manchester. After graduating from university I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5, so I packed my journalism degree into my suitcase to travel the world and find a way to make money at the same time. I now call London home, although I still travel whenever I can. I hope to inspire you to be your own boss, live life and see the world.

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