Thursday, 13 December 2012 12:45 PM
If you are considering embarking on a cruise but are unsure whether this is the right type of holiday for you, there are several options that can help make sure your trip runs as smoothly as possible. Our guide will introduce you to some of the best.
Perhaps one of the options most deserving of your attention, specialist packages tailored towards first-time cruises are ideal for those who are either unsure what to expect or whether they will enjoy this kind of getaway. Not all cruise lines offer such services, so you should keep an eye out for them when choosing your tour operator.
There are several services such packages can provide. For example, you could be offered the chance to attend a get-together designed for those who are new to cruising. As well as meeting fellow first-time cruisers, you can also be introduced to key members of the crew.
Giving you an in-depth look around the ship, guided tours are another excellent option. These can take place soon after boarding, giving you the opportunity not only to familiarise yourself with your surroundings, but also to ask any questions you may have.
There are two key things to remember if you are keen to take advantage of a new-to-cruising package; the first is that while these are typically available on longer cruises, they are not on mini cruises. The second is that you will need to notify your tour operator after booking that you wish to be involved in this kind of programme, as you cannot join once the ship has set sail.
Another interesting option for first-time cruisers is taking a mini cruise. As their name suggests, mini cruises are somewhat shorter than standard cruises, lasting anything from a single night to five nights. While new-to-cruising packages are not available on these, their brevity makes them ideally suited to travellers keen to get their first taste of holidays on the water.
There is also a good level of variety when it comes to where you can go. For example, should you not want to travel particularly far afield, or if you are simply keen to see more of your home country, you can take UK and Ireland-focused trips.
Alternatively, there are some fantastic itineraries that include visits to places like France and Norway, as well as splendid seasonal sojourns, such as cruises to France's fabulous Christmas markets.
Careful cruise selection
Our final tip is simply to take care when selecting your tour operator and itinerary. For example, if you plan to take your first cruise in 2013, try to select something that departs from the UK, since this will make your travel plans easier.
Other things to consider – alongside more obvious points such as destinations – include what facilities each ship has, because this will vary from one vessel to the next, and whether your cruise has a particular theme. Some cruises are tailored towards different interests, such as photography or walking, so check what's available in case something like this would suit you.
Finally, should you be keen to spend some time being pampered in the spa or using other specialist facilities during your trip, it is worth trying to book these in advance. This is because they can often get busy and be more difficult to arrange after you have boarded.