Cruise holidays have become one of the fastest growing travel trends. Traditionally, designed for the baby boomers or the wild partygoers, they now cater for all ages, interests, and budgets. People rave about cruise holidays, focusing on how many countries they have seen, the type of cruise and the amount of food and alcohol consumed.
When my annual leave was approved, at the last moment, I had two weeks with nothing planned. My parents suggested I travel to New Caledonia on a cruise ship. I was somewhat skeptical at the start. However, I must admit the idea of unlimited food, organized tours and a choice of onboard activities, was very appealing.
Here are practical hints which will turn you into an experienced cruiser
I have always researched and booked holidays online, utilizing a multitude of travel websites. I decided for my first cruise I would venture into a travel agent who specializes in cruising. There are cruisers for all ages, activities, and budgets. I wanted a personal recommendation and advice. The travel agent asked three questions;
What Type of holiday do you want?
Decide on the type of holiday first. There are cultural, beach and everything in-between on offer.
I wanted a relaxing, tropical island holiday where I could read and go on a number of well-organized excursions to beaches and local cultural villages. The main goal was relaxation.
What Type of Ship?
Cruise ships come in all shapes and sizes. Many ships are just like a self-contained village. I wanted a ship with a pool, outdoor area to sit in the sun, gym, spa facilities, a variety of restaurants and a cabin with a balcony.
Where you want to go and for how long
Firstly select where you will depart from. Then investigate the destinations and the type of organized tours on offer. I decided on a fourteen-day cruise, which departed from Sydney Harbor. It is magical sailing past the Sydney Opera House and through the Heads.
Sample a cruise for a few days
If you are unsure if cruising is for you, take a mini trip. This is a fantastic way to experience cruise life. Many cruise liners offer three to five-day sailing adventures. This will introduce you to cruising and what is on offer.
There are some things you need to pay for which are not included in the cruise package.
The Internet is incredibly slow and often difficult to get a connection when out at sea. Unless you must email, I suggest you leave this till you have returned
Drinks packages need to be paid separately. It can seem rather expensive at the start; however when you consider the drinks packages are for unlimited drinks, overall it’s economical. You just need to decide if you want an open bar or soft drinks and bottled water
On board spa treatments and excursions are also paid separately.
Only need to unpack once
There is nothing better than entering your cabin, unpacking and storing your luggage away. That’s it for the trip. Brilliant!!
Explore the ship
While passengers are boarding and the luggage are delivered to the cabins, it is a perfect opportunity to walk around the entire ship and get your bearings. Take note of what is on each deck, particularly the restaurants, gyms, and pools.
My cabin was on the top level just near the pool with most of the restaurants located on the middle decks. Perfect location.
As soon as you set sail, it is essential to find the concierge so that you can book your trips. There are limited numbers for each tour group, so it’s important to get in first. I suggest booking these excursions online before you travel.
The cruise ship excursion is fascinating. Exploring the kitchens, storage areas, large freezers and staff quarters is an eye opener, and highly recommended. I would suggest having this tour whilst at sea.
Make sure you take a lanyard on board the cruise. Your room key will have a code printed on the front indicating which drinks package you have purchased. When ordering drinks, give your lanyard to the bartender for swiping.
To my surprise, everyone wore a lanyard! It seemed to be a fashion accessory. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one and had to search the gift stores.
There is unlimited food available all day which suits even the most fussy eaters. Many ships have a main dining room, a casual buffet and a selection of specialty restaurants ranging in a variety of cuisines.
It is very tempting to have a three-course meal then venture to the all-day buffet and have a second helping of dessert. Don’t do it. I found out the hard way; a two-week cruise resulted in a weight gain of 8kg!! I rolled off the ship.
I usually look at ships and feel instantly ill. The travel agent suggested;
- wear seasickness wristbands. These elastic bands have a small hard ball which sits on a key pressure point
- drink ginger tea and suck on barley sugar lollies
- take sea sickness tablets
To my surprise, they worked!! I was not sick once. However, the sea-sickness wristbands caused dark bruises at the pressure points and I felt lethargic with the sea sickness tablets.
It feels like a real holiday!!
Cruising feels like a real holiday, once you organize and book the excursions, and extras, it is time to enjoy the entertainment, food and the excitement of visiting a new destination.