Australia’s love affair with cruising continues, with more than a million travellers taking a cruise in 2014. We spent 10 million days at sea that year – almost 40 per cent of them in the South Pacific – and every day someone new discovers the joys of a cruising holiday. But there are a few things every would-be cruiser should know before they take to the high seas.
Choose the right cruise line for you
The popularity of cruising means there’s a greater variety than ever before, so if you’re a first-timer it’s important you choose the best cruise line for you. If you’re travelling with kids you might want to consider Carnival, Royal Caribbean or P&O. Meanwhile Princess Cruises – the company made famous by the Love Boat TV series – is routinely named one of the best lines for romance. (Some ships even have intimacy classes.)
Consider trying a sampler cruise
Not sure if you are ready to commit to a week on a cruise ship? Take a short or sampler cruise to be absolutely sure. Cruise lines such as Carnival and P&O offer three- or four-day cruises that are perfect for a long weekend away. Itineraries include city-to-city options such as Sydney to Brisbane, or even “out and back” cruises that head out off the east coast of Australia and return three days later.
Select the right cabin
Inside cabins can be significantly cheaper than rooms with a window or balcony but they are only right for certain types of cruisers. If you’re the kind of person who makes the most of everything on offer – and will only return to your stateroom to sleep – the saving could be worth it. On the other hand, if you’re travelling somewhere particularly scenic like Alaska, you’ll probably want a cabin with a view (and one on the side that faces land).
Think before you pack
Just about every cruise line has a dress code of some sort. That doesn’t mean every ship will require you to have a tuxedo in your suitcase but longer cruises in particular will almost certainly have some formal nights. Check the requirements for the particular cruise you have booked.
Plan your days in port
First-time cruisers sometimes forget to plan their days in port. Shore excursions usually need to be booked in advance and they often leave early in the morning so be prepared. With an average of just 8-10 hours in port you need to move fast. Before you leave home, review the itinerary and decide what ports you particularly want to explore and book a tour before you leave (or do the research necessary to go on your own).