Travelling attracts people for a variety of reasons: For some it is all about relaxing, or exploring new places, or creating lasting memories. For others, financial freedom or retirement is the ideal time for new adventures or relive old ones that weren't possible during your working years.
Whether you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime holiday or you travel regularly, you want to make sure you're getting the best value for money. You're also looking for a stress-free holiday, where you're free to experience multiple destinations in a safe environment, without the stress of having to plan and organise it all yourself.
If this sounds like you, a cruise holiday could be exactly what you're looking for. The variety of cruise lines, voyages and potential destinations means that there is an experience to suit just about everyone. From small luxury cruise lines visiting hard-to-reach locations, river cruise lines exploring historic ports in Europe and Asia, through to the "floating theme parks", keeping parents and kids entertained for days.
In this blog, we share 5 of our tips for planning your cruise holiday to help you choose the right trip and make the most of it. For more tips take a look at our eBook: Top 10 Fine Cruising Tips.
1. Consider the Time of Year and When to Book
The best time to take a particular cruise will depend on your destination (often cruise lines will only offer itineraries during the times where the passengers will get the most enjoyment). For New Zealanders looking to escape our winter, Mediterranean Cruises and European River Cruises during July, August and September are very popular. For an Alaskan Cruise planning around the winter snows and the hibernation of wildlife is essential.
When it comes to deciding when to make the commitment and book your cruise, travellers who are selective about their accommodation type or standard (and on a cruise ship the location of your suite or cabin can be important) or who are looking at a popular itinerary which has a limited offering, are best to book early to avoid disappointment. Clients who book early often are rewarded with Earlybird discounts and have a greater opportunity to lock-in their preferred shore excursions and onboard activities.
2. Think Carefully About Where to Book Your Cruise
If you're considering booking a cruise with a company outside New Zealand, ensure you use a reliable source that is authorised by the cruise line to sell to New Zealanders. Some cruise lines don't permit "cross-border" sales of their cruises (i.e. they don't allow US travel agents to sell to New Zealander travellers) and reserve the right to deny boarding. Also, if something goes wrong or you need to change your plans, it's easier to work with a New Zealand Travel Agent than waiting on hold to talk to an anonymous overseas call centre.
If you're thinking: "that overseas deal is too good to pass up", often we can negotiate with the cruise line for them to extend it to New Zealand passengers.
3. Plan you Packing
Check with your Fine Travel Consultant about the cruise line's dress code so you can pack appropriately. For example, some luxury cruise lines have restaurants and events that require formal wear, and your Hawaiian shirt won't cut it! Certain cruise lines request "business casual" attire in evening dining venues (other than their casual anytime buffet restaurants). Others go for "smart casual" in evenings and more formal attire is not specified. Also, remember to include some warm layers as the wind at sea can be chilly. If you've booked early, and have scheduled some activities, make sure you pack appropriately for them.
Pro packing tip: If you're not sure you're going to wear it, don't pack it! Remember, the cabins and suites can be smaller, so you don't want to be tripping over a huge suitcase, and you'll want to save room for some shopping...
4. Use Cruises to Explore Different Destinations
With so many cruise itineraries available, you generally can find one in the part of the world that you're looking to explore next (as long as there is a body of water!). If your plans include learning more about a particular region, its history, people and culture(s), many cruise lines host onboard experts. These experts give talks before you arrive in a port and while you're at sea (or in the case of Antarctica talk about the marine life) so you are set up to make the most of your time onshore.
Fine Travel works directly with cruise lines, a range of major wholesalers and cruise specialists to access the full variety of cruise itineraries available - whether you want to travel around the world, or just around parts of New Zealand you've never seen before.
Explore the options available and find your dream cruise itinerary.
5. Consider Different Cruise Types
Most of the cruise itineraries that we see advertised in the New Zealand market are short to mid length itineraries in a particular region, such as exploring New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific, or further afield, the Mediterranean. If you've done one of these cruises you may want to expand your experience into a different cruise type:
- World Cruises and Sectors: World Cruises usually last more than 100 nights, making many port stops along the way. Often you can join a World Cruise for specific sectors (such as between Auckland and Dover). Unpack once and explore the World!
- Expedition: These itineraries visit adventurous locations such as Antarctica or the Arctic and have a strong focus on teaching the passengers about what they are experiencing.
- River cruises: These are a smaller, more intimate experience, most commonly exploring the rivers of Europe and Asia. Your closer to shore so can get on and off the ship more often.
Also consider the expected demographics of your fellow passengers on the cruise. Look for a cruise that will meet your specific needs, such as cruises with only adults (and adults of a similar age range to you) or a family friendly cruise with kids clubs and activities. Some cruise lines have more of a mix of international guests than others (especially river cruising).
There's a cruise out there for everyone. Use our tips above to guide you through the process and get ready to set sail on your dream holiday. For more tips take a look at our eBook