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A Guide for First Time Cruisers

Are you ready to set sail on the adventure of a lifetime? Cruising is one of the most incredible ways to see an exciting array of destinations, in a short amount of time. Not only that, but you get to enjoy pools, spas, restaurants, activities and an endless number of leisure facilities while you’re on board!

If you’ve never been on a cruise before, here’s a guide to help you on your way.

How Much Does it Cost?

No matter what your travel budget is, there’s a cruise for you. Trips range from ultra-cheap sale fares aboard 2 or 3 night mini cruises to luxurious 14-night transatlantic crossings. On average, it’s possible to pay approximately £500 for a 7-night cruise from the UK or Europe, to destinations including the Mediterranean and the Norwegian Fjords.

The team at Simply Holiday Deals searches the web for the best weekly deals on cruises, just for you. We look for the cheapest deals to the most popular destinations, so all you have to do is choose one, pack your hat, sunscreen and flip-flops and get ready to set sail!

What’s Included in the Price?

You’ll be happy to hear the price of your cruise generally includes much of what you’ll need for your entire cruise holiday! The most common inclusions are accommodation, main meals in select dining venues, many on board activities, transfers to and from the ship to different ports and nightly entertainment.

Extras that you may need to budget for include dining in exclusive, on board restaurants, drinks, shopping, arranged excursions on land, spa and salon treatments, laundry, tipping, internet access and special activities organised on board outside the general programme.

Before you go on your cruise, check out the different options for shore excursions, so you can budget in advance for the ones you’d like to participate in. These can range from snorkelling and diving trips to helicopter rides and adventure activities. If you want to save on shore excursions, there’s no need to do the arranged trips. Do your research on each destination before you go, so you can see what you want to see within your allocated budget.

What is the Accommodation Like?

While accommodation options vary from ship to ship, as a general rule, your room, or cabin, is very similar to a hotel room, in that it includes similar facilities such as housekeeping. The cabins are arranged in different budget categories, which typically fall into the following:

  • Inside cabins, which have no window on the outside.
  • Outside cabins, which have a small porthole and tend to be larger than inside cabins.
  • Balcony cabins, which have a private outside area directly attached to your room.
  • Suite cabins, which are the most expensive and generally include separate living and sleeping areas.

Choosing a room is a matter of budget consideration, your personal desires and the number of people you’re travelling with. If you intend to spend very little time in your cabin, you could consider an inside room and allocate your budget to extra activities. If you have a large family, get seasick or want to enjoy more luxurious accommodations, consider a balcony or a suite cabin.

What are the Dining Options?

One of the most exciting aspects of going on a cruise is the incredible array of food available! Most cruise ships, especially the larger ones, offer numerous restaurants, cafes and lounges for you to choose from.

The main dining room is the eating hub. Generally, you’ll find a buffet-style option with themed menus and a range of international cuisine to suit every taste. Be aware that many main dining rooms have a dress code and this will be specified when you book your cruise.

Most cruise ships also have speciality and fine dining restaurants, ranging from Japanese, French, Italian and gourmet cuisine which you’ll need to pay for as you would at a normal restaurant. Cruise cards are the most common form of currency, in that you sign for extras and pay the outstanding amount at the end of your cruise.

If dining is one of your favourite holiday pastimes, choose a ship with an array of options, which can also include hotdog stands, pizzerias, cafes, bakeries, barbeques and steakhouses.

What Activities are On Board?

Cruise ships offer an abundance of activities to keep you occupied at sea, especially the larger ships, which feel like a floating city with all the options of home. Most ships offer fitness centres, spas, hair and beauty salons, swimming pools, boutiques, art galleries and libraries.

Organised activities range from craft classes, guest speakers, dance classes and cooking seminars, to children’s activities including costume characters, games and sporting activities.

Nightly entertainment includes spectacular theatre and cabaret shows, live music, comedians, roving musicians, movie cinemas, discos, bars, lounges and specialised entertainment unique to each ship. If you want to go all out with activities, you can hop on board a cruise with ropes courses, bumper cars, rock climbing, roller skating, indoor skydiving, waterslides and spectacular atriums.

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What Do You Have To Bring?

In terms of packing for a cruise, it's very similar to packing for any holiday. Keep in mind that many of the more formal ships have a dress code in restaurants and in night-time venues, so it's important to pack at least one semi-formal outfit. Other than that, the daily dress code is informal and you'll find yourself in your shorts, dresses and jeans most of the time. Make sure you pack jumpers and long pants in case of cool weather, even if you're heading into a hot climate, for nights out at sea.

Here are the other essentials:

  • A daypack with water bottles, cameras, sunscreen and anything else you'd usually take on an all-day outing.
  • Electronics and entertainment such as books and magazines specific to you.
  • Toiletries, medications and first aid necessities. Most ships will have basic essentials, however they may be expensive and/or not what you require.
  • Alcohol/beverages - if the ship permits.
  • Reef shoes, snorkel gear or any other easy to pack equipment for easy access during shore excursions.

 That's it, you're ready to go! Bon Voyage, from the team at Simply Holiday Deals.