Booking a cruise for the first time can be an exciting but daunting experience. If you’re not familiar with how cruises work or the terminology used, knowing exactly what you’re signing up for isn’t always easy. Here are a few of the most common mistakes you can make when booking your first cruise – and how to avoid them!
Mixing up Your Dates
It may sound obvious, but one of the biggest mistakes you can make when booking your cruise is not checking your dates. Cruise lines often open bookings years in advance, which can lead to holidaymakers turning up not only on the wrong day but the wrong year! To avoid this, when booking your cruise, be sure to double and triple-check that you’ve selected the correct dates and that you’re aware of the duration.
You should also be clear about where your cruise will depart from, for example, is your cruise from Southampton? This is typically referred to as the embarkation port, departure port or even POE (port of embarkment.)
Not Checking Your Cabin Location
You should always research the location of your cabin before booking. The ship’s deck plan will not only show where your proposed cabin is located but also where it sits in relation to public areas, which is vital information if you’re hoping for a restful night’s sleep or lazy lie-in and find your bedroom is below the nightclub dance floor or kids’ club area!
The deck plan will also show whether your cabin is located near a lift or stairs, which can be useful information if you’re cruising with mobility issues or tire easily. You should also consider the view from your cabin (if there is one) and how much space you want during your trip.
Not Reading the Fine Print
Another major mistake people make when booking their first cruise is to not read the fine print. By skipping over this, you’d be surprised how many details you can miss and this can end up costly or embarrassing down the line.
For example, if you book your cruise under a nonrefundable or promotional fare, you may be unable to make alterations to your travel plans or cancel without incurring penalties. You should also be clear about the hidden costs of any ‘free’ perks, such as drink packages, as you may be expected to pay a mandatory gratuity charge (tip) on top of these.
Forgetting to Make Dinner Reservations
Dithering over dinner reservations is another rookie mistake on a cruise. While it’s nice to be spontaneous, the best restaurants will get booked up in advance and you don’t want to be left hungry! To avoid disappointment and queues, it’s best to make dinner reservations before you sail and make the most of any dining and beverage packages that are on offer.
Choosing the Wrong Cruise!
Picking the right cruise is about more than the cost and the destination. Remember that once you’ve boarded, you’re with these people for the duration of your holiday! That means you need to be confident that you’re going to enjoy the entertainment and activities that are on offer and that you have similar expectations to your fellow passengers.
If you’re looking for tranquillity and relaxation, a party cruise full of 20-somethings will be a nightmare. On the flip side, if you’re wanting a non-stop party experience, then a child-friendly cruise might be a disappointment. The good news is, that there are cruises to suit all tastes, from adults-only cruises to family cruises or educational cruises so by doing your research ahead of time, you’re sure to find something you’ll love.