- Monday 12 August 2019
Our cruise experts weigh in on the tips, tricks and insider info which will ensure your cruise is smooth sailing:
The popularity of cruise holidays will continue to grow in the coming year, especially among 18-24 year-olds, according to the 2019 Travel Trends Report. Cruise operators are responding to this demand, as the choice of destinations and type of cruise holidays seems to be bigger and more varied than ever.
Travellers can now choose from specialist cruises such as wellness, active, foodie, solo, polar, etc.
Cruise holidays have traditionally had a reputation as something older people would book, but an ever-growing number of Millennials and Generation Z-ers are booking cruises. Here's why:
Having paid the entire cruise holiday before you travel, makes it easier to budget and takes away any financial surprises during the trip. A cruise holiday can include accommodation, meals, excursions and even tips. This makes it a relatively economical way to holiday.
For the real bargain hunters, there are some great deals out there. Especially during hurricane seasons, as there is less demand. We have a wide range of cruise companies to recommend to every type of customer. From 3-star right up to 6-star... there's one that can fit your budget perfectly.
- Multiple Destinations
Cruising is a great way to visit multiple destinations and even different countries in one holiday. What other type of holiday will let you visit the USA, Jamaica, Mexico and the Cayman Islands in one week?!
Or how about visiting the Baltic cities of Copenhagen, Tallin, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm as part of one trip? Another popular option is cruises which take in the Mediterranean ports of Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles, Florence/ Pisa, Rome, Naples and more. See more of the world, all from your luxury cruise ship, without having to unpack and repack your unlimited luggage.
- Ease Of Planning
Like an all-inclusive holiday, pretty much everything is taken care of during a cruise. All you need to worry about is when to queue for food, and what to do on shore excursions.
Generation Z and Millennials are inclined to seek the advice of a travel agent to book their long haul, multi-trip and group holidays. Now, they’re also finding that booking a cruise with the assistance of a specialist who knows the ropes makes holiday planning a whole lot easier as well.
- Cooler ships
Cruise lines are making an effort to shift their demographics by making their ships much, much cooler. The newest ships come equipped with lots of fun on-board activities like surfing, ice skating, sushi making and wine tasting.
The cruise companies are also upgrading their tech to attract younger people. Royal Caribbean has launched its nw ship Allure of the Seas, which features some high tech check-in software and also comes equipped with super-fast Wifi connection. They even have robot bartenders mixing things up at the bar!
Several of Norwegian Cruise Line's ships now feature a racetrack onboard. Inspired by the CEO's grandkids, they feature environmentally-friendly electric cars that can reach up to 30 miles an hour (!) and a lap which takes 8 minutes to complete. Their fantastic technology allows you to hear authentic race sounds like revving the engine or changing gears as you come to a corner.
Cruise lines are also adding destinations to their itineraries that offer more experiences and attractions which will appeal to a younger demographic. Think shore excursions with the possibility for volunteering or local experiences which offer cultural enrichment. On the more adventurous front, many cruise lines offer programs like mountain kayaking or dancing the night away on a private beach.
- Alternatives To The Open Sea
If you don’t fancy cruising the ocean, then try a river cruise instead. River cruises are great for getting right to the heart of the cities on your route. Excursions are normally included and you will have free time to plan your own shore visits or even try local restaurants. You can river cruise in Europe, Russia, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Egypt and more.
The cruise ships are obviously a lot smaller than the ocean-going cruise liners, and this gives you the opportunity to get to know more fellow cruisers. Even though they're small, river cruise ships still have a lot to offer.
Uniworld's SS Antoinette has a heated swimming pool, cinema, fitness centre, spa, a choice of dining options anda full-service bar. It's also decorated with fine Italian marble and a stunning 10-foot blue Strauss Baccarat chandelier.
The Victoria Mekong, which cruises rivers in Vietnam and Cambodia, has an infinity pool, jacuzi, movie room, games room, mini-golf course, spa and lounge bar. This ship also has impeccable eco-credientials... Solar energy helps power the systems and by the time the water used on board is returned to the river, it's already been recycled to be drinkable.
- Cruise Sickness & Medical Facilities
What to do if I get sick on board? Well it can happen to the best of us for a myriad of reasons, but generally sickness on board modern cruise ships is not a common complaint.
However, if you do get sick, call the the ship's doctor immediately. The clinics on board are equipped with the best of facilities to cater for all occurrences and the doctors and nurses are very experienced.
Before you go, visit your GP for anti-sickness recommendations if you feel that you may suffer. There are also over-the-counter remedies and wrist bands that are a great help. If you are on any prescriptions, make sure to bring a copy with you for the onboard doctor, in case you do need to visit the clinic.
- Accessible Facilities
All cruise lines are very aware of offering accessibility facilities for both adults and children. From embarkation to activities, restaurants, bars, theatre, cabins and other ship facilities right down to disembarkation- you will be taken care of.
We check each cruise company for exact details of their accessibility policies. For excursions, we recommend that you have a companion with you, as not all places of interest or transport in your destination may have accessibility facilities. Some cruise lines do offer limited accessibility excursions and we can advise you of those before booking. If you have any disability don’t be afraid to ask us to explore if a cruise would be suitable for you.
- Dress codes
Generally cruise companies have a generous and practical approach to dress codes. However, codes can vary from cruise line to cruise line. But don't fear a sartorial disaster- we can advise you of this in advance!
In general, gone are the days when you must wear a jacket and tie or dress suit, or evening dress or cocktail dress for dinner. Smart-casual is now the most common form of dress for this main meal. If you want to occasionally dress up in your best finery, then this is totally acceptable and a nice thing to do for special occasions.
Dress requirements can vary depending on the onboard restaurant in which you dine: shorts and t-shirts may be acceptable in the more casual restaurants, but you can easily check this out with the reception. If you don't want to pack much, we'd recommend going for smart casual for a full cruise.
- Spending Money
Accommodation, standard meals, most on-board activities and entertainment are all included in the cruise fare - as well as fresh linen and towels. With most cruise lines you have 24 hour dining, all included in your price. Some cruise companies may have an extra fee for speciality or fine dining restaurants – but this is rare.
Drinks are not included unless you have bought a drinks package in advance – this is something that we definitely recommend. Excursions are not included in your cruise price, but theatre shows and cinema shows are included- as are all the ship's public facilities.
Generally, cruise companies do not accept cash payments for anything. You will be given an onboard account against your credit card and this will be your form of payment. But be careful and don’t just use the card as if you have unlimited funds – inevitably when it comes to payment at check-out, you can be surprised at the size of the bill. It's very easy to spend more than you think- another reason why we recommend buying a drinks package in advance. Always check if there is a gratuity charge on your bar bill, as this can add up if you haven’t pre-purchased that drinks package.
Tips are the big item not included in your cruise price. All cruise companies charge tips, not only for cabin crew, bars, restaurants etc but also for the large number of unseen staff that make your cruise an enjoyable and safe experience.
Generally, tips can range from €8 - € 12 per person per day. Some cruise companies allow you to pay this before you go and it’s a good idea to do so, as you know then that you are only faced with on board purchases or excursions and can budget accordingly.
If you're going to be cruising to different currency destinations, you can avail of ATMs or a currency exchange office onboard. Another option is to use local ATMs at your port of destination. Your final bill can be in the currency of your destination. For example, in the Med it will be in Euros, while in the Caribbean your bill will be in US dollars.
While we're talking about money, it's also worth nothing is that most cruise line cabins are furnished with a mini-safe. Or, you can leave valuables with security at reception.
- Solo Travel
Every cruise can accommodate solo travellers. However, you'll be subject to the same single cabin cost as if you were staying in a single room in a hotel. River cruises often offer great value for solo travellers.
Some cruise lines have facilities for single travellers, but these need to be booked early. For instance, the new Harmony of the Seas has a small allocation of single inside cabins, as do Norwegian Cruise Lines and Fred Olsen Cruises.
- Smaller Ships
So, you don't like those large cruise ships? Well there are some great alternatives, from 3-star to luxury 6-star. Some of the most opulant liners are small ships from companies such as Silversea, the luxurious Seaborne and Oceania. The advantage of smaller cruise liners is that they can get in to ports that the bigger liners can’t.
Of course there are also the aforementioned River Cruises, which are ideal for anyone preferring smaller ships. Again, the advantage of river cruises is that generally you get in to the heart of the ports of call by just walking off your ship. You can also stay off board for shopping, sightseeing or local dining until the ship is ready to leave. Then, you can just walk back on to your ship as it sits by the riverside.
- So, Which Cruise Line Should I Book With?
That’s where we come to your assistance. Our staff have cruised on many lines and also visited many ships in port at Cork, Dublin and further afield. We have the knowledge and are happy to share that with you, so that you book the cruise line, itinerary and price best suited to you.
The information provided in this blog is of a general guidance nature; all cruise lines may have some differences in service etc, but if you get in touch, we'll talk you through those differences.
- What's Next?
So, you have enjoyed your cruise so much that you want to book your next cruise with the same line before you disembark.... Can you do this?
Yes, indeed you can! The reservations staff at the onboard reception will be happy to help you. Your new booking will automatically be sent to us and we can look after all the details for your next cruise. Just make sure to remind the onboard cruise expert to include us in the details.
Some of the cruise companies offer benefits to booking your next one while still on board: discounts, drinks packages, low deposits etc. The staff here in the Shandon Travel Cruise Centre have all that information and will be happy to take you through it.
We love cruising and are happy to share our knowledge of the best Cruise Lines to suit your budget and preferences. To start planning your next (or first!) cruise, get in touch:
- Call 0818 300205 or 021 4935806
- Email email@example.com
- Follow us on Facebook and Instagram
- Or call into us at The Cruise Centre: upstairs above the Shandon Travel shop on Cork's Grand Parade. We're here from 9:30- 5:30 Monday to Friday.