Cruising is incredibly good value for money, particularly when you break down the total cost and consider what is included in the price - accommodation, food and entertainment, just to name a few. Along with the benefits of unpacking once and experiencing a number of different places along the way - there's nothing that compares! As the cruising industry grows, cruise lines are focusing more on what the ships have to offer and ships are becoming a destination in themselves.
How to choose a cruise line
There are a number of cruise lines offering a wide variety of ships, itineraries and on board experiences. Cruise lines cater to all levels of clientele, from small luxury ocean cruises, boutique river cruises, themed cruise and expedition cruises. It's important to know what you are looking for in a holiday, what types of activities you enjoy, what sort of atmosphere you prefer and whether you like smaller or larger ships. Understanding what you want will make it much easier to find a cruise that suits you.
Appeals to the sophisticated cruiser or someone looking to experience luxury. Generally smaller ships, unique amenities and itineraries. The passenger to staff ratio is low, providing more refined personalised service - some even offer butler service. In most cases, all staterooms are situated for ocean views and most have balconies. Fine dining is experienced from the table setting to the food, wine and service. Attire is more country-club during the day and upscale/elegant in the evening. Kids programs are few to none.
A higher level experience that caters to all age groups and interests. Ships are well appointed with a unique blend of itineraries and on board amenities. Passenger to staff ratio is still low and service is excellent. Many ships have a majority of staterooms offering ocean views. Dining is upscale and well presented. Attire is more reserved or casual, with certain dress requirements in the evening. Programs for kids are offered, usually segmented by age.
Caters to first time and repeat cruisers of all age groups and interests. Ships are a wide variety of sizes, some are the biggest afloat, with a vast array of on board activities and amenities. Plenty of dining options on offer catering to all taste buds and ranging from upscale to casual. Dress code is usually relaxed, although most have formal evening, captains dinners where you will need formal attire for the occasion. Programs for kids are extensive and specific to age groups.
For those interested in exploring a destination in depth, visiting smaller less frequented ports and rivers a small ship or river cruise will be perfect. These ships are much smaller than your average cruise ship, allowing a more neighborhood-like atmosphere. Virtually all staterooms have a river/shore view and are well appointed. Dining is elegant. Entertainment can be found in conversing with fellow passengers, lectures, or a culturally enriching show. Attire is casual. Most do not have kids programs, but entertainment and excursions are enjoyable for all ages.
Which cruise ship is for me?
They same that the holidays you take are usually closely aligned with your personality. When it comes to cruise holidays, sometimes determining what kind of cruise ship is best for you can be confusing. At one end of the spectrum are the sleek mega-liners, at the other, the small vessels, but which will best match your personality?
If you like the festivity of being among plenty of people and fast-paced entertainment, you'll find it aboard one of the 12-15 story mega-liners. Multiple pool areas, kid and teen venues, energising activities from surf-simulators to nightclubs, and expansive dining options, are all designed to keep two to three thousand passengers buzzing well into the evening. Group activities cover a wide spectrum of interests, including culinary and athletic classes, games, to pool-side activities. Attire is usually relaxed, and depending on cruise line, evening wear stretches from casual to formal.
Catering to roughly 100 to 500 passengers, smaller ships can glide into more quaint and unique ports around the world resulting in experiences not attainable by those aboard the big ships. But the difference doesn't end there. Smaller ships usually offer enhanced ambiance such as meals on fine china, entertainment by classical musicians and upgraded stateroom amenities. Notable guest speakers, frequently experts in culinary, cultural or nature-related subjects of the region, will leave you with a heightened appreciation for the cities you'll be visiting. Dress codes are often country-club casual by day, elegant by night.
There are also mid-sized liners which are a variation between big and small, however attitude and service generally side with the smaller ship approach.
A cruise holiday should compliment your personality, and with so many options, there is a cruise to suit everyone! Ask us how we can Get You on your first or next cruise holiday.
Choosing a cabin or stateroom is just like choosing your room category for your hotel. Typically, there are four cabin levels to choose from, with a number of pricing levels varying based on the location of the cabin within the ship. Generally speaking a higher priced category is mid ship and on a higher deck. Below is a short overview of each cabin level - we can provide a more detailed outline of the options available for your specific cruise ship and itinerary.
Staterooms are nicely appointed, twin or quad share. There is no window/porthole or outside view.
Oceanview (or Outside)
Features a picture window or porthole, providing views.
Providing the convenience of a private balcony with patio furniture. Also allows for fresh air throughout your cabin.
Depending on the cruise line, suites can be very spacious, and can offer a separate bedroom or a number of rooms. Ideal for families and/or a group of friends sailing together. Suites are usually beautifully appointed and often come with other advantages such as priority check-in and private 'suite' clubs or lounges.
*Staterooms for those physically disabled are also available in most categories; advise your consultant for further details.
When to book
As with flights and many other areas of travel, cruise pricing is fluid and pricing is subject to change due to availability at any time without notice. It is best to book in your cruise as soon as you can. GMT Travel Co. offer a lay-by payment option which allows you to lock in today's price and pay to balance over 2-6 months. Allowing you to take advantage of the pricing at the time.
Cruise lines release plenty of deals throughout the year, offering a range of bonuses including reduced rates, free cabin upgrades, airfare discounts or inclusions, on board credit, or a combination of added-values. However, to secure your preferred ship, itinerary, cabin and any shore excursions, we recommend booking around four to six months prior to departure. Especially for travel during peak periods such as school holidays, special events or public holidays/long weekend, where you may want to book up to 12 months in advance.
last minute deals
Last minute deals are often available, which are great for those searching for a quick cruise get away. In most cases, last minute deals are what the cruise has left over stateroom availability from groups or cancellations, which means your choice of cabin will be limited. Last minute deals are not available on all cruises, however, if you are open to any ship, itinerary or cabin then this a great way to experience different cruise lines and destinations at a great price.
If you are travelling with children or as part of a larger group or you are after a specific cruise, it's better to book early to secure your ship, itinerary and cabin of choice.
Your cabin/accommodation as per ship description, meals, entertainment, use of ships facilities and taxes all being included in any published cruise price. Often you can prepaid gratuities, just ask your consultant if this is possible at time of booking.
On board extras such as mini-bar, spas, excursions, internet, casino gaming, drinks/liquor (on some cruise lines), laundry service, and babysitting, are generally excluded from the cruise fare and are to be paid on board as necessary.
choosing a destination and duration
First time cruisers are typically drawn to shorter cruises departing from home ports, whereas more experienced cruisers tend to venture off to more exotic destinations. But whether you're a new or experienced cruiser, you don't have to follow any guidelines to where you should cruise. Lay out a world map and nearly all major cities that sit on major shore lines are accessible by cruise ship; it all comes down to defining your travel preferences and sense of adventure.
You can choose a quick three or four day cruise to get your feet wet to a 180 odyssey that will take you around the world. However, most cruises are in the 7-14 day range. Also, when you travel might matter to you based on your level of enjoyment of crowds and/or weather. For example, the Mediterranean can be crowded and sultry in the summer, yet cooler and less crowded in the spring or fall. Alaska cruises operate between May and September each year with July/August the busiest period.
Shorter cruises typically attract a younger crowd, bringing the average age on board much lower than on a longer cruise. This is mainly due to the limited time most younger types can afford but it is also reflective of shorter cruises being perfect for new cruisers or celebratory groups.
Many new cruisers think even a 7 night cruise may be a little long for them but more often than not they come back just like an experienced cruiser, itching for more days at sea.