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Cruise hints and tips for a newbie

(21 Posts)
fuzzyfozzy Tue 13-Sep-16 13:52:54

Hi. It's looking like my DH and I can book a cruise for next summer, never been on a cruise before.
What do you wish someone had told you about cruising?
I'm thinking hard about rooms, waste of money to have a balcony or money well spent. Where abouts on the ship should I look for a room?
Also, what's the deal with tips?

Greenteandchives Tue 13-Sep-16 14:12:21

So many 'it depends...'.
A balcony is great, but if you don't think you will spend much time on it, eg a cold weather port intensive cruise, it may not be necessary. Great for warm weather or scenic cruises eg Alaska, Norwegian Fjords.
Always book a cabin sandwiched between other cabins, therefore not under or over bar, theatre etc. Aft cabins are amazing for all round views but a long way to the lifts.
Research your cruise line carefully, as they all have a different feel, and appeal to different types of traveller. This is important. E.g Carnival is a partying line, Royal Caribbean is great for families, Celebrity is quieter, Cunard is quite formal, Disney is all about children and Disney fans, and then there are the luxury lines such as Crystal, Regent and Oceania. There are huge ships and smaller ships. All appeal to different people with different needs, but if you get it wrong to start with it will put you off, I think.
Use a website such as Cruise Critic, which will tell you everything you want to know by people who have cruised.
We have been hooked for a while, and have travelled to many parts of the world by ship, including the Far East, Arctic Circle for the Northern Lights,
Recently cruised South America and going to Russia and the Middle East next year. It is a very economical way to travel, although I appreciate that it would not suit everyone.
Tips are usually included in the price, but it is easy to check. You can give more where you feel you have had good personal service e.g waiting staff, cabin steward.
It's a minefield, so ask again if you need to.

fuzzyfozzy Tue 13-Sep-16 15:46:07

Fantastic reply!!

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Tue 13-Sep-16 15:57:55

Haven't got much time to post now, will try and come back later. My top tip is that once you have booked, research your destinations in depth, you only get a dsy in each so you need to hit the ground running as it were. You might decide to just get off and potter, but if you want to see specific things it really pays to be organised in advance.

elizabethcharlotte Wed 14-Sep-16 21:50:05

We are thinking of a cruise to the Norwegian fjords next year. Suddenly my husband is worried that he will be seasick! He has dreadful childhood memories of the ferry to Ireland! Please tell me he won't be seasick!

HatePaperDoll Wed 14-Sep-16 22:00:19

He won't be seasick. I get sick on smaller boats but I've only been seasick once ima cruise and that was when we sailed into a storm in the bay of Biscay on a transatlantic crossing. Under normal weather conditions, you are barely aware of the ship moving.

HatePaperDoll Wed 14-Sep-16 22:07:34

We always have a balcony cabin because I get a bit claustrophobic and being able to see out helps. I spent one night in an inside cabin and was fine but wouldn't have liked to do it for longer. On the other hand, my parents often choose inside cabins because there is so much to see and do on the ship that they are rarely in the cabin so a balcony is a waste of money unless they get a really good deal on it. They like to find a spot on deck to sit and read quietly or snooze if they want to. It's rare that you can't find a nice quiet spot somewhere on board.

We are cruising in Alaska next summer and have a balcony cabin as I want to wildlife spot (whales and birds) and gaze at glaciers while i drink coffee on the balcony in my PJs.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 14-Sep-16 22:14:11

We,ve been on two cruises and had promenade cabins both times, so you have windows and feel less claustrophobic, they overlook the interior atrium of the ship. I have a bit of a fear of heights and wouldn't be able to go on a balcony. To avoid seasickness a cabin midway along the ship is normally best I think.

If you go on Cruise Critic you will find a topic or thread for every destination, every line, every ship, every forthcoming cruise, you can ask anything there and someone will know.

HatePaperDoll Wed 14-Sep-16 22:37:06

Yes, midship and lower decks are better for avoiding sickness as there is less movement at those points. Aft (back) can be noisy due to the wake and prone to vibration during docking manoeuvres. Bow (pointy end) suffers a bit more vertical movement.

Schoolchauffeur Wed 14-Sep-16 22:45:25

Agree with the advice to use Cruise Critic. But bear in mind one man's meat is another man's poison- as has been said cruise lines do vary in tone/market. If it's just you and DH you may want to avoid the actual school holidays as on the larger more family oriented boats it can get very busy. We've just come off a cruise on Queen Victoria where there were about 10 children ( aged baby to 17) sharing what looked like a great kids zone and teens room, as schools had just gone back, but the previous week there were apparently 240! ( about 1900 passengers on board)
Think about how you feel about whole days at sea where the ship does not dock - you can see full cruise itinerary on a cruise lines website. We were only on for a week so enjoyed a day at sea as we found there was enough to do on board and spend time just relaxing, but others couldn't wait to get into port.
In terms of cabin choice, if you are thinking med or warm waters, a balcony is nice as you've a private outside space to sit, but not essential. Consult the deck plan for your ship. Mid ships supposedly best for stability/ not feeling queasy and higher up decks. I was a slightly wary sailor, but barely noticed we were moving so this may not be an issue for med summer sailings. Check what's above your cabin and avoid ones next to laundry or stairway as may be noisier.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Best trip we've done in ages- came straight back and started looking at the next trip and we never do that!!

fuzzyfozzy Thu 15-Sep-16 13:36:29

Loads to think about, thanks so much. I've been on cruise critic and I've seen a cruise 'exhibition' in Glasgow, worth the trip?

fuzzyfozzy Thu 15-Sep-16 13:37:09

Loads to think about, thanks so much. I've been on cruise critic and I've seen a cruise 'exhibition' in Glasgow, worth the trip?

Greenteandchives Thu 15-Sep-16 17:22:09

Hi. The cruise shows can be useful. Try and get tickets by googling, they are usually free online somewhere. Try and have a good idea of what you want before you go, and bear in mind the companies represented will want to sell you something! We went to one once, and came away having booked two cruises, but we got quite a lot of incentives, such as good prices, on board credit and a bottle of champagne. You will also have the opportunity to ask all your questions re tips, cabin placement etc. And a day out. smile

Squirrills Sat 17-Sep-16 14:38:05

We are just back from our second cruise with DS18 and DS20.
I never fancied cruising because I loathe the snobbery and pretension associated with it. I don't wish to be told what to wear or where and when to sit for dinner, and I have the British attitude to tipping.
We chose Thomsons because of the informality. Might not suit you if you want to wear long frocks / DJs and shake hands with the captain but for a relaxed family break it suited us.

As others say I researched the stops in great detail. We did Adriatic and so visited some fantastic cities including Venice, Split and Dubrovnik.
Cruise companies make huge profits on their trips and in some places it's well worth it but in many ports you can just hop off the ship and see the sights yourself.

Two years ago in July in the Med we sailed through hurricane (according to the crew). You couldn't stand upright, the restaurants were deserted and everyone was very sea sick. Other passengers said they'd never seen such conditions before but I had a hard time convincing DC to go on a second cruise grin.

PosiePootlePerkins Sat 17-Sep-16 14:57:46

I can highly recommend Tui Discovery, the new Thomson ship, we had a wonderful week on board cruising around the Med in August with our two DS aged 7 and 12. As a Pp said they offer a more relaxed family cruise, you can dress up for dinner if you want to but smart casual is fine too. Lots of activities onboard, including indoor and outdoor pools, mini golf, climbing wall, shuffle board, amazing shows in the theatre, live musicians, and more... we were never bored. A good variety of places to eat too including the usual buffet, a snack shack, two large restaurant areas, and two more exclusive restaurants (curry, surf and turf) which you have to book.
Excursions are extra but give you an opportunity to go ashore and discover more about the area you're visiting. Lots of ports can also be explored on foot or there will be a shuttle bus into town.
The hardest bit is coming back to reality and having to do chores!

BizzyFizzy Sat 17-Sep-16 15:11:52

We did a cruise with NCL many years ago , and three times recently with Thomson.

We love Thomson and find people who haven't cruised with them rather snobby. Their ships are medium sized and virtually all-inclusive. Their entertainment is targeted at British audiences. We've always been on the more formal end. Thomson has the best itineraries as their smaller ships can get right into interesting ports and tend to have longer times in port.

As for cabins, they should all be satisfactory. The cheaper ones should all be cleverly designed to make them feel non-claustrophobic. You really don't spend a lot of time awake in your cabin. It is nice to have an outside cabin on a high deck, but you have to pay for it. It depends how much you think his is worth. There is no right or wrong answer.

The benefit of a higher deck is that your cabin is near the action and you are not climbing endless stairs or using the lift. The disadvantage is that it could be a bit noisier, as well as more expensive.

Squirrills Sat 17-Sep-16 17:11:12

climbing endless stairs I have never climbed up and down so many stairs as last week. Cabin on Deck 5 and preferred pool on Deck 11. Up and down umpteen times a day grin.
I always avoid using lifts.
Made up for all the extra food.

BizzyFizzy Sat 17-Sep-16 17:16:28

Were you on Dream, Squirell?

We were on Majesty this year (and three years ago on the fantastic Adriatic Explorer itinerary). This year we were on Deck 7 (promenade), with the festivities being on 5 and 6. I only ever went to the pool deck (10) for the early morning sail in.

fuzzyfozzy Sat 17-Sep-16 20:09:35

Thanks so much for your ideas everyone.

GraciesMansion Sat 17-Sep-16 20:20:58

I've been on cunard ships a few times, with and without children. Service is outstanding. They're as formal or relaxed as you want them to be and the children love it - they would choose a cruise holiday over anything else we've done. Tips are automatically added to your room bill but there are lots of people (us included) who ask for them to be taken off the bill and just tip who we want.

Squirrills Sat 17-Sep-16 21:24:01

Yes Bizzy. We went up to Deck 11 for breakfast (not sail in as no early risers here) and DC liked the livelier atmosphere up there so we headed there after leaving ports. A second pool on Deck 9 was quieter but had better views.

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