A First-Timer’s Guide To Booking A Cruise

Planning to book a cruise for your next vacation getaway? Trying it for the first time may be daunting, especially with a bunch of companies, agents, itineraries, destinations and ships to choose from, but fret not! There are many ways to book a cruise. Let’s narrow it down, shall we? First, you can either:

  • Contact a cruise line directly
  • Book through a travel agent
  • Use a third-party website

Booking directly VS Travel Agents

Going to a cruise line’s website to book directly may be the instant tendency. However, for first-timers with no knowledge about every cruise line out there, booking through a travel agent is more recommended especially if you don’t want to stress out regarding planning your itinerary. With travel agents, you can ensure that everything will be booked smoothly without going through the hassle of researching one by one on what each cruise line can offer, as travel agents can help you figure out which cruise line has packages and excursions that fit your personal style and budget. Not only can they offer seasoned advice, but they can also find good deals and promos for you! They can also assist you in planning your itinerary without feeling lost about where to go next from a certain point, as well as help you choose a cabin type. In case you didn’t know, some cruise ships have more than 30 different cabin types: inside, outside, balcony and ocean view are just a few of the categories to consider. For first-timers with seasickness, you may want to opt for the one with ocean view. Make sure to ask your travel agent about it! 

Beware of scammers though! If you’re feeling skeptical about using travel agents, make sure to look for ones who have been accredited by the Cruise Lines International Association. That way, you can make sure that they’re legitimate, as it proves that they are true specialists when it comes to cruises and have first-hand experience across the industry. To find a CLIA-certified agent near you, go to the Cruise Expert Locator at cruising.org and input your zip code.

Another safer option is to ask friends and relatives who have been to a cruise ship for referral. That way, you can be guaranteed that the service of the travel agent has been tried and tested by people you trust. 

If you need further help in booking a cruise or deciding your itinerary, I can assist you with that! Book a call here.

Best Time To Book

If this is the grand voyage of a lifetime that you’ve been dreaming for so long, then give yourself more time to save up and prepare in order to achieve that luxurious getaway experience in the most comfortable way possible! A window time of 6 months to a year will do, depending on your itinerary, destination, ship size and how extravagant you plan it to be. January and March are the peak season when it comes to booking, so if you plan to go along with the crowd, make sure to look for deals, promos and perks because usually, the fare is influenced by the week you purchase. 

Mediterranean Vs. Caribbean cruises

Now that you know how to book a cruise, the next question is where to go? The Mediterranean and the Caribbean are two of the most popular destinations amongst cruisers. Don’t know which you prefer? Here’s a brief comparison for you: Simply put, if you’re in for breath-taking in-land sceneries and cultural landmarks then you might want to choose Mediterranean instead, as it includes Europe’s most glamorous cities; but if you’re the type who prefers white sand, picture-perfect beaches, a dose of vitamin sea and some island hopping then the Caribbean is for you!

Cruise ships in Nassau, Bahamas

Some of the top European tourist attractions that you can visit with a Mediterranean cruise are Barcelona, Spain; Venice, Italy; Athens, Greece; Paris, France; Lisbon, Portugal and even Rome’s St. Peter, Basilica. As for a Caribbean cruise, some of the top destinations are the famous beaches of Nassau, Bahamas; Kings Wharf, Bermuda; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

What’s great with a Mediterranean cruise is that it would allow you to briefly experience various countries and ports without the hassle of checking in and out of hotels, waiting at the airport, and unpacking and packing suitcases. The ship simply arrives at the next city while you are sleeping or enjoying breakfast.

Frontal view of the architectural wonder of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Art of Catalonia), Barcelona, Spain.

However, in a Mediterranean cruise, most of the time, the ports are industrious, such as the ones in Spain, France, Italy and Greece, so there would be hardly anything worthy of your Instagram feed. Caribbean port stops, on the other hand, usually docks close to areas overlooking beautiful sceneries–either looking towards some lush tropical greenery, or looking down into the bluest of waters not too far from pristine beaches.

Meanwhile, if excursions are what you are looking forward to the most, you need to carefully plan your excursions in a Mediterranean cruise as it usually involves taking a day tour that lasts the whole day. Cruise ships usually dock in the morning and the city might be about an hour away from port, so you may have to be up early in the morning to meet your tour guides who will guide you on your way to avoid getting lost around the city. Meanwhile, a typical excursion in a Caribbean cruise only includes some snorkeling, a planned beach day, and a tour around an island. So most of the time you don’t have to wake up early to get off the ship, unless you wish to watch the beautiful sunrise.

In regards to the actual cruising, you may come across some rougher waters in a Caribbean cruise, as you won’t see land for the most part. Make sure to carry medications that help relieve nausea and vomiting with you, in case of unexpected motion sickness or sea sickness. As for a Mediterranean cruise, you’ll rarely feel that you are on a ship, as you will mostly see land the whole time and it’s usually smooth sailing.

Overall, if you’re the laid-back type of traveler, then it would be great to be at a more relaxed pace in the Caribbean, as you can enjoy your day however you please–be it spending a day laying on the beach or swimming in the crystal blue ocean waters. However, if you prefer sightseeing and absorbing the beauty of each new city then the Mediterranean is a great way to be able to peek into many different countries and then decide if you want to go back and visit one of them on a future land trip.

For more tips in booking a cruise, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! Book a call here.

Don’t forget to check out the 2nd part of this blog entry for our First-Time Cruiser Preparation Checklist, which includes a list of things to bring that you could print out as a useful reminder before your trip!

Bon voyage!

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