This year has seen many first-time cruisers set sail on their own maiden voyages. The excitement of looking forward to a break away from it all, yet also that slight trepidation of the unknown. What do we pack? Will we get seasick? Is the cabin big enough and where is it located? Are there extra costs? Do we need a Passport? Will we get bored onboard? All this and more will be answered just below.
Tip 1: If you haven’t booked already, BOOK!
Search online at Discover365 and grab yourself a bargain! Simply choose your dates, destination, cruise ship and your choice of cabin. If you are unsure, or would like some guidance, simply give us a call on 1300 830 786. One of our many Cruise & Travel Solutions Specialists can walk you through all of the options and even tailor a cruise holiday just for you.
Our next suggestions for those who are a little nervous about the whole cruising experience is simply to start small. Let’s grow the love of the sea before you set sail for adventure!
Tip 2: A short cruise is a quick taste-tester
One that lets you explore the ship, get your sea-legs and decide if the sailing life is for you. Think about a 2-4 night getaway that touches base at one or maybe two destinations, or a “cruise to nowhere” that sails out to sea and back again. If you are one of the few who don’t take to the sea, then you only have a day or two more to go. For those who get hooked go longer next time. Easy!
Tip 3: Think about what you want in a cabin.
After all it will be your home for the next few days. Inside cabins are relatively inexpensive and great for those who just want a room to sleep in. Some first timers are concerned about the size of the room and may need a window. That’s where an Oceanview cabin comes in handy. Although you cannot open the window, you can see the sea views outside. Of course, if you prefer to have an ocean breeze and a little more personal space, then a balcony cabin is definitely the way to go.
Tip 4: Orientation Onboard.
Once you are onboard you will notice the corridors all look the same. Unless you are in the public areas where there are pools, bars, cafes, shops, entertainment areas, dining rooms, casino, art galleries, disco, solarium and more, in which case you can generally tell where you are or where you need to go. For your cabin, an easy way to locate your deck is by looking at the deck plans next to the elevators, or you could download a copy of the online ship deck plans before you board. It’s also really handy that one side of the ship has all the even numbered cabins, whereas the other side have all odds! We suggest that you do a walk through the ship on the first day to get yourself oriented and you’ll be good to go.
Tip 5: For those of us who get seasick…
Or for those of us who think they just might, you are not alone, it’s a major fear of many cruise passengers. Chat to a cruise expert about it and about the location of your cabin. The centre of the ship is usually the most stable, with a lower floor to avoid the motion of the ocean. If you are in rough seas there will be some movement, although in calmer seas you will be surprised at how little wave action you feel. There is an onboard doctor if needed, however we suggest you keep an open mind, though read up on remedies just in case. (See our previous article on Seasickness)
Tip 6: Have you checked your passport?
Do you have a passport!? If you are cruising in international waters and touching base in foreign lands (and that includes New Zealand, the South Pacific Islands, Norfolk Island, New Guinea… Tassie is OK though J) then you need a passport. It must be valid for at least 6 months (some countries require longer). And this, along with any visas that are required are YOUR responsibility. No passport, no visa, no cruise.
It has to be noted that some Australia-only cruises eg 2-4 night getaways or cruises to “nowhere”may only require relevant ID like a drivers licence to board (depending on the cruiseline). This is because the ship is only sailing within Australian waters or is docking in an Australian port.
Tip 7: Cash.
It’s the all-important. Most ships will run on a cashless card system while onboard. Everything from drinks, onboard purchases, shore excursions and gratuities will be billed for payment at the end of your cruise. Keep an eye on your spending by asking for a printout at the purser’s desk or some cruiselines have an online check area. Let’s look at some other ways to save…
Tip 8: Beverage Packages really can save you money.
And pre-booking them before you board is easy too. Most beverage packages include beers, wines, cocktails, soft drinks and bottled water. There are also separate packages for Speciality Coffees, Only Soft Drinks and more, depending on the cruiseline. Make sure to check the terms and conditions to know what is and what is not included. Additional packages and shore excursions are also available for pre-purchase – always a good idea for the more popular options eg spa time or a MUST-SEE experience.
Tip 9: Contact with the World.
These days state-of-the-art WiFi is available on most cruiselines, and Internet Packages can be pre-purchased or are available while onboard (you may even have it thrown in as a perk!). WiFI means you have easy access to your families and friends to upload all those holiday snaps to make them green with envy. Note to self: To save yourself some time and money, when you are in port, find a free WiFi area for larger file sends (eg Macca’s, Starbucks etc), otherwise we suggest that you leave your phone in Flight Mode to save on pesky roaming fee’s.
Tip 10: Dress codes onboard are usually quite flexible.
Comfortable and casual is the way to go for daily activities. Good walking shoes for exploring exotic destinations and a sarong over your swimmers for when you are walking to/from the pool or spa. Add a little more polish for dinnertime, maybe go a little dressier in the main dining room or speciality restaurants. For the designated formal nights (usually at least one on most cruises) it is a chance to glam up – this can be as simple as a jacket and tie or little black dress through to full tux and floor length ballgown – depending on your chosen ship and how special you want to feel.
Tip 11: Bored when you’re onboard?
Don’t think so! Depending on your ship choice, activities could range for gyms, pools and spas, waterparks and giant slides through to adventure parks, rock climbing, ice skating, surf simulators, flying simulators, ball sports, roller rinks, dodgem cars and carousels. There are gyms, wine, gin and whisky tasting, martini making, cooking classes, movies, broadway-style shows, comedians, the circus and parades, to name a few. Then you have the new and interesting destinations to visit, with a whole host of shore excursions ready and waiting.
Tip 12: Life couldn’t get much better… or could it…
Tip 13: Gourmet dining.
Get ready to eat because you have choices from a BBQ under the stars to an all-you-can-eat buffet, white-gloved fine dining and afternoon high tea to Michelin-starred and celebrity chef creations. Think Jamie Oliver’s sharing menus, Curtis Stone and Guy Fieri’s succulent steaks and seafoods, the fusion cuisine of Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (Nobu), Jacques Pepin’s French-inspired cooking, Atul Kochhar taste sensations, desserts by Marco Pierre White and more. You may have to wait months to get a reservation in their land-based restaurants – cruising is your chance to live the high life at a fraction of the cost!
Have we convinced you yet? Are you ready to give cruising a try? Login online at Discover365 now or call one of our Cruise & Travel Solutions Specialists on 1300 830 786 – we’ll help to organise your first, or next cruise today!
Written by Jacqueline Hamilton