ss5006_hz1If you’ve never been on a cruising holiday, you’re in for a treat. A luxurious and novel way to see the world, cruise ships take the stress out of travelling while ensuring you get to several different countries during your trip.

From exotic journeys to more compact itineraries closer to home, there are hundreds of options available to help you shape the perfect getaway.

When booking your first cruise, it’s important to consider a few factors that will really shape your holiday. Each cruise line offers a fantastic cruise experience; it is just a case of selecting the right cruise holiday for you.

Many people start with the decision on where they want to go – beach, scenery, wildlife, culture, history, or the cities and ports that you want to visit. Once you have decided, check with your CLIA member travel agent which cruise line offers that port or combination of experiences.

Not all cruise lines will feature the cities and ports that you wish to visit on the dates that you specify, so it is just a case of reviewing the available cruise ships and deciding which one is right for you. Do you like all of the choice and facilities available on a big ship, or the more intimate experience a smaller ship will offer – or something in between?

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The Spa on board MSC Fantasia

Type of Cruise Ship
Do you want a relaxing getaway with a touch of luxury, or a fun filled cruise with lots of activity and things to do? Are you going away as a family, couple or group? Each cruise line is unique, so do some research on the best for you. The itinerary of a trip is a good place to start.

Destination
Think about what you want to get out of your holiday, whether it’s a chance to see the big cities or the expansive landscapes beyond. Is sun a priority or might you prefer a cooler destination?

Length of time
Cruise trips can vary hugely, from three nights to three weeks to three months and beyond! Don’t just book yourself on a month’s voyage unless you’re sure that you’ll be comfortable with going away for that long. If you’ve never been away for more than a week or two, why not sample a sailing of this length before working your way up?

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A Royal Caribbean Junior Suite

Cruise holidays also offer fantastic value for money, but cruise lines do vary in what they offer customers. Generally, you can expect your main expenses to be covered: your stateroom or cabin, all meals in the main dining room/buffet (some cruise lines also offer complimentary room service), entertainment, onboard activities, plus usually – but not always – flights and transfers to and from the ship, if applicable.

What won’t generally be included are alcoholic drinks (or bottled water, although river cruises tend to offer this and a choice of wine or beer with dinner), dining in the ship’s speciality restaurants (there is usually a small cover charge), shore excursions (generally included on river cruises), gratuities, wifi, spa/salon treatments, certain fitness classes (such as Pilates and yoga), photos taken by the ship’s photographers, casinos, baby-sitting and laundry.

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Jamie’s Italian restaurant on board Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas

There are, however, some all-inclusive cruises, so it’s worth doing your research and checking what’s on offer before you book.

You’ll also find that many cruise lines and travel agents will offer special incentives for early booking. Once you’ve found out exactly what’s included, you’ll be able to relax.

If you’ve been inspired to take a cruise, use our Cruise Finder to find your perfect voyage.