Hooked on cruising – tips and advice

Philip King has cruised all over the world and knows his stuff.

He is full of helpful advice and tips about cruising – so in his own words, here they are!

1    When you book your cabin, take a look whereabouts on the Ship you are, as the position of your cabin may mean you get late-night noise from the ballroom below or even the 24-hour ‘behind-the-scenes’ staff areas where work goes on even when passengers are asleep.

2    The ship’s shore excursions are often very expensive. They are worth doing in remote places where there’s not much on-shore  tourist infrastructure but in European cities, for example, you can get off the ship and do it yourself which is much more interesting. My advice is do your homework and you might be able to get yourself a much better tour than by booking it with  the ship.

3    Don’t over pack. Some cruises are dressy but most aren’t so you don’t need to take a huge wardrobe of clothes.

4    Avoid the champagne art auctions on the ships. They often get people at weak moments but you end up paying a lot of money for art that’s not even original.

5    The same goes for on-board photographer services which are mostly really expensive too.

6    If you want to go to one of the gourmet restaurants on-board ship but think you can’t afford it, look out for any specials, sometimes these are on ‘port days’ when there is hardly anyone on     board, or on the opening night or last night.

7    Small ship or large ship? Small ships are often more expensive because they don’t have the scale to average costs out. But the atmosphere is often better because they are more intimate     and you get to know other people better. But unlike big ships, there’s nowhere to hide so a big ship might suit you better. The big ones are amazing but sometimes there’s just too many people and they are impersonal.

8    If you have children or teenagers the big ships are fantastic, with all the programmes under the sun to cater for them. People often say to me cruises are no good for kids but the kids clubs     are amazing. My brother went on a cruise with his family and their problem was their kids didn’t want to get off in each port !  But my brother and his wife loved it because for once they had a really relaxing holiday.

9    Ignore the Cruise Critic website. I stopped reading the reviews because people are hyper-critical. Don’t take it too seriously – you talk to 100 people and they all have their different views  and perspectives on every ship. Nothing’s perfect. Most cruise lines are pretty good.

10    Don’t be fooled into paying more for a cabin with a balcony than you need to… In the old days a balcony was a luxury on a ship, it’s now almost standard. Celebrity’s new ships have a lot more balconies and they are no more expensive than a non balcony cabin on other cruise line.

11    Don’t do the Caribbean in the hurricane season.

12    A risk of any cruise is bad weather. If there are a lot of ports on the itinerary, the ship will moor at one of them until the storm blows over. But sometimes the ship has to go through the storm to its final destination.

13    Above all, you are allowed to do nothing ! Despite many activities on-board and off, don’t feel you’ve got to rush around. Sitting on the deck with a drink and book in hand, that’s what cruising is all about. Don’t feel guilty about it!

Thanks again to Philip for his advice and to Rachel Sturges for writing this article.

 

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