5 Tips to Book a Cruise Holiday You’ll Enjoy
I’ve put together 5 tips to help you book your first cruise: what to look for, how to get the best deal and how to decide which cruise holiday best suits you. I suggest getting out a pen a writing down in point form the ‘dream and the budget’ answers. Don’t forget it’s a holiday so don’t get overwhelmed in booking! Let’s go…
1. Destination Selection
You can dream big, Maldives or Mediterranean, Carribean or Cuba – it’s about finding the way to make any destination work. When it comes down to your dream cruise just pointing and picking won’t do! You need to plan what you’re looking for.
How much can you afford to pay?
Where are your top three destinations?
By selecting your top three locations you can immediately rule out cruises which don’t depart or visit your preferred these ideal destinations.
A top three also allows you to ‘ballpark’ figure the price ranges of each region… surprise ‘exotic locations’ might not always be as expensive as you first thought!
Now take these three destinations and put them in order of medium price ranges from most expensive to cheapest.
The reason we put the most expensive location first is because these sale prices often have the biggest discounts. This should help you establish what kind of cruise you can afford vs your dreams.
Once you have your big three we can begin the Art of booking a cruise right for you!
2. Discounts and Upgrades
The real Art of booking a cruise lies in the ‘lies.’ You can be fed some great wishful dream holiday but not in the budget you thought, or get the budget version only to find you missed out on all the extras! It’s the subtle art of getting the extras at a discount, getting the dream cruise at discount or upgrades at fraction of the original cost that makes the real difference!
If you don’t know, there are a few excellent cruise booking websites which offer packages at a fraction of the sale price. They are best on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales but even pre-christmas sales have deals going on cruises 12 months in advance. Cruise expos also have great sales and don’t advertise these online because they need to price out the competition on the day when competing with many other cruise providers.
Upgrades may be downgrades if you don’t look into the finer details. Sometimes as advertised means you’ll get the deal but spend much more then you should have. Even more shocking is that you can pay 10x the amount you should have when it comes to day tours, excursions or drinks packages. The key is finding out what you want from an excursion and booking it directly with a tour company for the best ‘bang for your buck’. Discussing what drinks your actually going to have before booking the most expensive package helps too. And finally checking to see weather or not upgrades are available for certain customers, members or travel clubs can also help your hip pocket.
Each is element needs to be checked under your circumstances, and don’t be afraid to ask! Special offers are often missed because you didn’t take the time to question it!
3. Tours & Add-Ons
Tours are just add ons with a little more style, what style suits you is what makes the most sense. I always recommend you follow your passions, either cultural or culinary experiences so that no matter the cost, you can always say you enjoyed yourself!
When it comes to add ons onboard, the costs can quickly spiral out of control, but if you take a little time to check each section of your experience you can save yourself a lot of pain in the pocket! Check out the locations you are visiting and what tours are available through the cruise operator. Remember sometimes the cruise tours won’t include the most unique experiences, so check out local tours in the regions you are visiting!
4. Relax Party or Both
Relaxation is a loose term thrown around the tourism industry because it can mean anything from a torture hike, to hours on sitting on a lounge by the pool. It’s all about your personal preference. One person might enjoy the hike, while the same person would feel bored laying around for hours. It’s finding the right method of relaxation before choosing what each cruise has to offer!
The basic question you should ask yourself is what do I want to do with my party time on the cruise? By asking yourself these questions you’ll be able to inquire online to find the answer. Or inquire in store, expo or your travel agent to help book the right cruise for you.
There are so many options that it’s easy to get overwhelmed when booking a cruise. Hopefully you’ll find these tips in booking your first cruise and what to consider. Good luck, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
5. Booking Your Cruise
These are the three easiest methods:
Online is one of the easiest for those who are computer literate, but for those who get confused, overwhelmed and can’t run a mouse over the computer screen this probably isn’t your most effective solution. However, instead of booking online you can always review cruises using Cruise Critic or Cruise Guru by reading real honest reviews from real people. This can save you a lot of wasted time looking into cruises which either aren’t in your top three or not in your budget!
Not my preferred method but definitely the best method for those who need to converse with someone in the ‘know’. Granted you can talk online or by telephone but nothing is quite like speaking with someone from the industry who knows what you’re looking for before you do! It’s unfortunate but not many cruise outlet/stores survived the .com digital revolution but if you’re lucky enough to live near one…. it’s worth the time and effort! If you’re even luckier, check out a tourism expo or cruise expo! They have super deals which often last around 48 hrs but you can often find great discount package.
Travel agents don’t really get the credit they deserve, everyday they are seeking out the best deal for you at a tiny percentage of the total cost of your holiday. They can however miss the ball park if they don’t know their customer well or think they know what you want without asking! I suggest if you don’t have a trusted travel agent, look for yourself before bringing your top three dream destinations to them for bookings.
Each method has a positive and negative; for those who can navigate the internet, you’ll find what you’re looking for online yourself!
For those who aren’t sure, going in store or to a cruise expo will definitely help reduce the overwhelm of endless cruise choices! They also often give the best deals at expos too! And those who need a little helping hand, your best solution is to visit a travel agent with three top destinations in mind. But of course, choose the one method which is right for you.
Our Cruise Booking Experience
We’ve been wanting to take a cruise for over a year! But like most professionals, we’ve struggled to find time away from the internet and consistent work.
We’re about having the most amount of fun on holidays, and decreasing the amount of wasted time as possible; transfers, airport time, flight time and transits. That’s why we really like the idea of a cruise; enjoying our time on the ship and waking up in a new destination each day! Plus it’s all organised for you, so we’ll get to sit back relax and enjoy our holiday (rather than planning and navigating each activity with transport and meals).
We booked the 14 night Costa Fortuna Cruise primarily because over 14 nights it had a maximum of 10 stops and minimum sea days. The cruise falls over the festive season which ensures we’re not snowed under with work or preoccupied with our blogs. It also happens to be Mick’s birthday which will be really nice to would ensure a new experience for every birthday. The cruise included all the basic items and gives us the most amount of options when it comes to entertainment, relaxation and excursions. There are many Asian cruises with different lines but this one appeared to be one of the best value-for-money experiences. We’ll have to wait and find out in the coming month. Be sure to turn back in January to find out all the details with Costa Cruises.