Cruise holidays are now almost mainstream for New Zealand travellers, but many are looking to join a cruise for the first time. Cruises from Auckland are a popular way to "dip a toes in the water" as the itineraries are close to home, can reduce wasted travel time in airports and there are many exceptional itineraries. In this blog we share 5 tips for choosing your first cruise from Auckland.
1. Start with a Shorter Cruise
Cruise holidays from Auckland come in a range of "shapes and sizes" from world cruises through to quick cruise escapes. And there's no need to sugar coat it: Cruises aren't for everyone.
When taking your first cruise holiday from Auckland (or from other ports in New Zealand) we generally recommend a shorter itinerary to start with. Although you may have researched different cruise lines and talked through the itinerary with your Fine Travel Consultant, there is no substitute for the onboard experience. And once you are onboard you have made the commitment.
Generally we recommend looking at 5 to 10 night cruise itineraries to start with.
2. Choose a Standard of Cruise Line that Suits You
There are a variety of cruise lines that offer a wide range of onboard experiences. Although "luxury" gets almost overused these days (and there was a time when all cruises were considered luxurious), it's important that you choose a cruise line that is in line with how you normally like to travel.
Generally we recommend that you look to how you have travelled in the past as an indicator of the cruise line that best suits you. Do you like more intrepid travel, only travel business class, prefer to lots of activities, or prefer non-stop entertainment with waterslides and extravagant shows. An Oceania Cruises voyage with its onboard cooking school may appeal or even the tradition and history of Cunard Line.
Other factors, such as whether you are taking a cruise with kids (or grandkids) will affect your decision. If you are taking the kids away on holiday, a cruise line with a great kids club will generally be more suitable (a similar thought process to choosing a resort in Fiji). If you are wanting a romantic escape with a loved one (or it's a special occasion), a smaller more intimate cruise line may be more suitable.
3. Decide Where you Want to Go (and Want to Do)
This may seem obvious, but there is a variety of choices when it comes to New Zealand cruises. Cruises departing from Auckland can just stay locally (exploring New Zealand ports), visit our Pacific Island neighbours or crossing the Tasman to Australia (Antarctica cruises from New Zealand are even possible). Deciding where you want to go may be just as important as the cruise line you choose.
A related question is what you want to do on your cruise. Some cruise lines such as P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises offer cruise ships that are more like floating resorts with all the entertainment onboard and lots of time at sea. Other cruise lines, like Silversea Cruises and Seabourn Cruises offer smaller to mid-sized ships that may not be a floating theme park, but they stop at interesting ports and shore excursions make up more of the focus.
4. All Inclusive Cruises Can Improve the Experience
When you're on a cruise ship your dining (and drinking) options are limited to what's onboard which makes you a captive audience (unless you choose to dine at one of the ports). Generally meals and non-alcoholic drinks are included but it is important to understand what is included (for example the buffet may be included but not the specialty restaurants).
Choosing an all inclusive cruise (that also includes alcoholic drinks) may feel like you are spending more upfront, but to know that everything is paid for and there will be no surprises on the credit card at the end of the holiday can provide a welcome peace of mind.
5. Travel With Friends or Family
A trend with many first time cruisers is to travel with friends, family or extended family. The option to share a quad cabin (four people to a cabin) on some cruise ships can keep the cost manageable and the variety of activities means that you can get a balance of together and "alone time".