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A beginner’s guide to cruising

Guidebook

Cruising is a great way to see the world at a different pace. It can give you a totally different perspective on places you’ve already visited, and is also a great way of experiencing places you’ve never seen before. If you’ve never been on a cruise, it’s important to know how it differs from other kinds of holiday. Here’s our rundown of the most important things to keep in mind before booking your first cruise.

Choose where you want to go, and find out when it’s best to go there
Just as when you’re booking any holiday, it’s important to go to the right place at the right time. While cruising the Amazon river can be a life-changing experience, you may not fancy it in June, which is when the mosquito population reaches its almost unbearable height. Make sure to thoroughly research the destination you’re hoping to cruise on travel websites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet before booking the trip to ensure you get to see the very best of the destination. As a country which takes Christmas markets to a whole other level, Germany is a great place to visit in the winter, while foodies will love a trip along the Rhône in summer, when the local delicacies are at their best and the vineyards are bursting with grapes. If you’re looking for a spring getaway this year, a cruise through Holland is the perfect choice, as the spectacular bulb fields are in full bloom and the Keukenhof Gardens are at their best. River Cruise Line offers a spring cruise along the Dutch waterways which includes a visit to the famous gardens, which you can book online here.

Know what you’re paying for
Make sure to check what’s included in the listed price of your cruise before you set off. Cruises are often full-board, but you should double-check this before you board to avoid any surprises. You’ll also need to know how much it will cost to join the optional excursions offered by the cruise line, as this may affect your budget. Another thing to know when drawing up your budget is the tipping situation, which varies depending on which part of the world you’ll be enjoying your cruise. On many European cruises, a service charge will be automatically added to your bill. Other cruise lines have a fixed tipping rate, which you can choose to vary according to how you’ve found the service. On US-based ships, you’ll often be given an expected gratuity you’ll be expected to pay in cash at the end of the trip.

Don’t get left behind!
Make sure not to lose track of time when exploring when you’re in port, as there’s a real threat that the ship might leave without you. While they’ll always give you a bit of leeway, make sure to always get back to the ship on time to ensure you aren’t left stranded.

Don’t ignore the dress code
Even the most relaxed cruises will usually have at least one formal night where guests are expected to dress up for the evening meal. Keep this in mind when packing for the trip — a blazer and tie will be suitable for men, and a smart dress will suffice for ladies. If you need any last-minute formal wear before setting of on your cruise, Marks and Spencer offers a great selection with next-day delivery.

Keep these things in mind when booking your first cruise, and you’ll be sure to have a great time.


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