Whether you are a first-time cruiser or a seasoned ship traveler, booking a cruise can often feel overwhelming. A wealth of options in itineraries, vessels, cruise lines and staterooms leave many would-be cruisers confused.
Since 1987, we have been booking amazing cruises for our guests and our experienced Travel Designers travel on ships every year to scope out the best rooms and amenities for our clients. Using our expertise, we have compiled a list of things to consider when booking:
1. Book early to get the best price.
Often people believe that waiting until the last minute will yield the lowest price on a cruise but we have seen over and over again that the best deals are most often found when a cruise is booked months in advance —plus it gives you more options in cabin location and type.
2. If you’ve never been on a specific cruise ship before, consider speaking to a travel agent before deciding on cabin location.
Where your room is located will dictate how much you enjoy your cruise. Those with motion sickness, for example, should steer clear of cabins in the front or back of the ship. Those who are sensitive to noise need to choose a cabin location away from the elevators and consider what is located overhead and underneath their particular room.
3. With so many cruise options available, there is a perfect cruise for everyone.
Ensure you are booking for your specific travel needs and desires. Don’t get stuck on a mega-ship when you really want a more intimate experience. Similarly, an intimate ship might feel too small if you’re looking for big-ticket entertainment. Some ships have the right amenities and staterooms to accommodate families with children. Research the ship and be honest about your need.
4. Don’t overlook the onboard enrichment and entertainment offerings!
Not all ships are created equal and onboard programming differs greatly between cruise lines and even cruise ships. One company may be focused on education programs —such as wine tastings and seminars from experts —another might have award-winning Broadway shows, and some ships will focus more on fitness and wellness. Examine these offerings closely to ensure they fit with your needs.
5. All-inclusive is becoming more common on cruise ships, but not all are the same.
Always check to see what’s really included: alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, shore excursions, gratuities. Perhaps you would prefer an experience that is more a-la-carte than all-inclusive? There are options available for both.
6. It may seem obvious to check the itinerary of a ship before you go, but keep in mind that two itineraries to similar destinations can be completely different.
Look closely at the ports of call to ensure you are happy with each stop. If you are headed to the Caribbean, for example, compare different cruise lines to see which one has more of the ports of call you want to visit. Smaller ships will sometimes stop at more out-of-the-way ports that big ships can’t reach. And always check that the season in which you are traveling is the best for that destination.
7. Book through a good travel agent.
While the internet has made booking travel accessible to everyone, there is still a lot of value in using a good travel agent. For starters, a travel agent who has first-hand knowledge of the cruise lines can recommend the right ship for your specific travel needs. Travel agents can also give you recommendations for which type of cabin to book on your budget and use their buying power to get you additional amenities you often can’t get if booking directly with a cruise line.
Contact a Cruise Professional at Tully Luxury Travel for more information on specific ships, itineraries and more. We are always happy to answer your questions and guide you toward an unforgettable travel experience.