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When you think of a cruise what do you see? A sedate early evening stroll on deck, before dressing for dinner and sipping cocktails to the muted sounds of an easy-listening jazz quartet? Think again.
These days you’re more likely to be on board a buzzing ship packed with everything from go-karting to water slides, zip-lining, Broadway shows and DJ club sets in the night lounge.
And of course, if sedate strolls and evening dress for dinner are your thing then there are plenty of cruise lines that will cater for that. But as interest in cruising has grown so the cruise lines have adapted to attract a whole new generation of seafaring holidaymakers.
By the end of 2023 it was forecasted that more than 30 million people worldwide would have chosen a cruise for at least one of their annual holidays. And that number is expected to grow even further in 2024, with up to five million more expected to join them.
Cruising had an uncomfortable voyage through the pandemic but has emerged as one of the fastest sectors to recover; passenger numbers are now already close to 2019 levels. It’s an impressive comeback given the media stories of mass covid outbreaks and ships effectively placed in quarantine as the virus ripped through them.
Now Covid is hopefully a distant memory, cruise lines have wasted no time in building back in anticipation of even greater numbers choosing this unique holiday experience. And they’re more conscious than ever about hygiene on board to give peace of mind to anyone still worried about sharing a space with hundreds of other people.
And the industry is also reporting increased interest from Gen X and Millennials in a type of holiday once seen as the preserve of the over 50s and a mode of transport that had echoes of a bygone age.
As a result, they’re designing ships and attractions designed to lure a whole new younger generation of cruise passengers who are looking for fun and adventure rather than peace and quiet.
So, if you’re new to cruising where do you start? How do you choose the best way to dip your toes in the water and discover what more and more people see as the ideal way to take a break?
Here’s a handy checklist of the things you need to think about:
Budget: When calculating the cost of your cruise holiday make sure you factor in things like tips, on board costs, excursions, and the cost of getting to and from your departure port.
Type of cruise: There are cruise trips to suit every taste and preference. Are you looking for a classic ocean cruise on a big liner taking in a number of landmark destinations, or something more adventurous like an expedition cruise taking in less explored parts of the world like Antarctica or the Galápagos Islands? You could also consider a special interest cruise like one with experts on cooking, literature or wildlife to educate you on your journey. There are cruises designed for families with children or adult-only trips with a more grown-up selection of things to do.
Destination: It may seem obvious but where do you want to go? Are you just looking to explore the Med or do you want to discover the Caribbean or go further afield to the Far East? Your choice of destination will influence the next category which is length of trip.
Duration: Since it’s your first trip do you really want to commit to a 14-day stay on a luxury cruise liner or might it be better to start with a 5-day hop round the Med? Is it a trip to celebrate a significant milestone like a birthday or wedding anniversary or do you just want a taster to see if it’s something for you?
Cabin type: Each ship can have a wide range of cabin types from luxurious suites with a balcony to a small inside cabin – and a price to match. Think carefully about the different elements such as space and the level of comfort you’d like.
Departure port: This is a big factor – how easy is it to get to your departure port and disembarkation point? Is there a good range of travel options? How much extra time will you have to factor in to your trip length for example?
Passport and Visa requirements: Don’t forget to check entry requirements for the places you’re going to visit. Is your passport up to date and will you need a visa. How long in advance will you have to apply for any extra pieces of paperwork you’ll need for your trip?
Excursions and other activities: Have a look at what’s on offer in terms of excursions and trips you can take when you go ashore. Are you looking for a guided tour of local markets or something more invigorating like trekking water-skiing.
Timing: Take into consideration the best time to visit the destinations on your itinerary. Think about the weather and how busy places are going to be when you visit. Do you really want to stop in Palma Majorca in the middle of August? Or would you be more comfortable going in the Spring or Autumn when it’s a bit quieter?
Travel insurance: Don’t forget to factor in the cost of travel insurance. You’ll need to take out a policy specifically designed for cruise trips. If you are planning any adventure activities during the trip, you’ll need insurance for those too. And of course, like all travel insurance don’t forget to declare any pre-existing medical conditions. If you don’t you might not be able to claim on your policy. Use our checklist below to make sure you get the right cover.
So, here’s our guide to choosing the right travel insurance policy when going on a cruise holiday, which at Holidaysafe can be added as an extension to all of our policies:
Top tips for choosing the right travel insurance when going on a cruise:
So, once you’ve chosen your cruise and bought your travel insurance all that’s left to do is pack your bags and sail off into the sunset. Happy cruising!
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