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Smooth Sailing: Expert Tips for First-Time Cruisers

As the luxury cruise industry continues to boom, more people opt for a cruise holiday experience. However, the abundance of information and options available for first-time cruisers can be overwhelming. To make the most of your first-time cruise, planning and knowing what to expect is essential.

Here are some top tips and tricks from Panache Cruises, luxury cruise experts to help you navigate your way through your first booking:

  1. Book through a specialist cruise retailer can be hugely beneficial for first-time cruisers. A personalised service will help establish what suits your taste and preferences, making it easier to find the best ship. Specialists have the extensive industry knowledge and can take the stress out of the finer elements. They can also assist with advance onboard bookings, like shore excursions and dinner reservations, so there is less to worry about on arrival.
  2. Consider a ‘no fly’ cruise. Many popular destinations can be served by ships that leave their local port, negating the need to take a flight to join the ship. This has many advantages and takes a lot of stress out of the experience. When long-haul flights are required to join a ship, always consider the effects of jet lag. It is always sensible to arrive at your departure port a day early to help minimise the effects of long-haul travel.
  3. Pre-plan your trip Organisation is critical to making the most of a cruise trip. Those who book early will be the first to receive information and can get ‘first dibs’ on certain things. A range of activities and attractions will be on-board, so try pre-booking excursions and specialty dining reservations beforehand. If this is not possible, most cruise lines will also have a phone app, calendar, or planner that lists everything going on, allowing people to get ahead of the game.
  4. Research the cruise line. Different cruise lines offer very different onboard experiences, from entertainment to dining. For example, Oceania is the world’s leading culinary and destination-focused cruise line. While some lines offer resort-style ships full of activities like mini golf and arcades, others are traditional and more relaxing. Different cruises will attract people, so holidaymakers should consider their desired experience and vibe.
  5. Study cruise ports beforehand. Unlike mainstream cruise lines, many shore excursions are included with luxury and ultra-luxury cruise lines, which is excellent for ‘new to cruise’ customers. Nonetheless, it is still essential to research and book in advance. Cruise line tours can sometimes be expensive when not included in the fare, so don’t be afraid to research the ports and explore independent tours if this is the case. Researching the ports beforehand is critical for more adventurous holidaymakers who are keen to avoid the crowds.
  6. Pick a suite carefully. Holidaymakers should carefully consider booking their stateroom or suite depending on specific needs. The location should be an essential consideration. Those who struggle with walking should think wisely about where they would be best situated, and families should consider what facilities would be most convenient for them to be near. The suite will be ‘home’ for the trip, so cruisers should consider what is important to them.
  7. It’s all included. First-time cruisers risk being stung by the additional onboard costs of cruises, which always appear less expensive upfront. However, with luxury and ultra-luxury cruises, many onboard items are included in the ticket price, including all drinks, WI-FI, shore excursions, specialty restaurant reservations and gratuities/tips. Always price up the ‘total cost’ of the cruise when making comparisons.

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