Your guide to cruising

Planning your cruise

Cruise tips & planning your cruise

Smooth sailing... planning your cruise

Consider the important factors when planning and booking your cruise to ensure successful sailing. Whether you're new to cruising or an expert on the wide open seas, it's always good to have a reminder of everything you need to consider when planning your cruise... because if you get it right, you can rest assured you're about to create a holiday to remember forever. Follow our top tips for booking and set sail for the horizon today!

The captain's top tips for booking your cruise holiday

  • Choose your cruise wisely The first step in planning your cruise is to decide which of the types of cruise ships you want to set sail on. Big ship, small ship; warm water, glaciers; four nights or four months, it's important that you do your research. What countries do you want to visit? How long do you want to be away? What facilities are important for you to have on your ship?

  • Most large ships run kids clubs and activity programs all year round, but double-check first. Obtain a program guide and let the kids rank the fun before you hop aboard.

  • Cabin selection If going on a large cruise ship, devote some time to choosing the right cabin. Things to consider: beds (singles or double), room to move, bathing facilities, position, to have a balcony or not and, of course, price. If you can afford it, we recommend upgrading from an inside room to an outside room with a view to the ocean, on one of the higher decks.

  • Where should you book? When you plan and book any sort of holiday, and in particular a cruise holiday, it helps to have all the advice you can get. There are so many choices out there today that it can get a little confusing. A good travel consultant with personal experience of a number of cruise ships can be invaluable. Ask for help with cabin selection, dining options and travel insurance.

  • Shop early... or shop late Cruise lines like to start filling the choicest rooms as much as a year in advance and generally offer incentives for early bookings. We recommend you book early so that you are assured of the cabin type and cruise dates that you want, otherwise you may miss out. On that note - consider booking an outside cabin with balcony... the extra expense is well worth it!

  • However, if you are the kind of person who likes to make last-minute travel plans, prices sometimes drop as the sailing date approaches and cruise lines get anxious about filling cabins, so check with your consultant. However, this is not guaranteed - if you are sure you want to cruise, then don't hesitate to book well in advance.

  • Know peak and non-peak times The rule of thumb for travel in general applies to cruising as well: If the kids aren't in school, demand and therefore prices, will likely be at their highest.

  • If school isn't an issue for you and your travelling companions, consider travelling in the shoulder seasons, when the weather is still good but the crowds have dispersed. Ask your Flight Centre consultant for the specific shoulder seasons for your cruise destination.

    If you plan to take the kids it's important to book early to avoid disappointment. All ships are capacity controlled as far as children go. They have a specified number of 0-3 years, 4-9 years and over 9 years that they will allow per cruise. Reservations will be denied if capacity is reached for a particular age group.

    On the other hand, if you're taking a holiday to escape the family or to enjoy a romantic escape, then ask your Flight Centre consultant about child-free ships.

  • Ask about special deals If you're travelling with a group of people, quite often there are substantial savings to be made if you book as a group. Same goes for families - many cruise companies will offer children's discounts.

  • As mentioned earlier, making your booking in advance can also snag you potential savings. Often, if you book at least six months in advance, you can receive a large percentage discount off the cost of your cruise.

  • Elevator or not? If planning on a river cruise, be sure to ask your consultant if the ship has elevators between decks as only some of the newest built ships do. All others require you to use stairs around the ship.

  • Finally, if you've sailed a particular cruise line before, mention it to your Flight Centre consultant, because there may even be a deal for repeat customers.

Packing for your cruise

Packing tips

Below is a list of tips to help you fit more into your suitcase, and your cruise:

  • Use zip-lock bags: large ones for sweaters and shirts; medium for underwear; small ones for socks and pantyhose; snack size for jewellery, labelled for each evening outfit

  • Squeeze out the air in each bag to make more space

  • Pack light to ensure you have space for souvenirs: The golden rule is half the clothes means bring twice the spending money!

What to take?

The following are some items we recommend to take on your cruise:

  • Comfortable walking shoes: as you'll be stepping off the ship to explore many exciting destinations, as well as walking around onboard!

  • At least one set of 'good' clothes: most cruises of five days or more include a formal night

  • A power point adaptor: to make sure you can plug in and recharge your appliances such as cameras, shavers, phones etc.

  • A multiple-point electricity board: just in case your room has only one or two outlets as you'll need it for recharging cameras, shavers, phones etc

  • A business-sized envelope to hold notes, ticket stubs, coins and brochures for each day of the cruise. When you get home you'll have a great 'holiday journal'

Ready to book, or want to find out more?

Contact your Flight Centre consultant for the best options for you. Call us on 0800 24 35 44, visit a store near you, or email a specialist consultant using our online enquiry form.

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