Andy Harmer, SVP Membership and Director of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) UK & Ireland, says it’s best to plan ahead when booking your next cruise holiday. Here are his top tips…

The way in which we buy has changed in so many ways over the years but, perhaps surprisingly, some aspects have remained very similar – the time of year we look for holidays and in particular, cruise holidays.

For those now thinking about dipping their toe into the world of cruising for the first time, it can be formidable as there is just so much choice – the size of ship, the style of cruise, not to mention the huge range of destinations.

Now is the perfect time to begin the journey which I personally think is part of the excitement of a cruise holiday. Planning ahead means you have the pick of itineraries and choice of cabins, you can pre-book certain onboard services and of course you can start to plan what you are going to do in each port of call.

I would strongly advise using a CLIA-accredited travel agent as they have the most up-to-date advice and are experienced in selling cruise holidays. These agents can be found across the whole country (discovercruises.co.uk).

Since destination is invariably the key focus, it’s often the easiest place to start. Consider the places and ports of particular interest and match these with cruise line itineraries for your preferred dates of travel. Then decide on your favourite type of experience. This can vary significantly – small, intimate ships or larger, resort-style ships; affordable cruising or ultimate luxury; ocean or river and everything in between.

Andy Harmer, Director of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

Some people like to plan all aspects of their holiday in advance, including excursion and restaurant choices, while others prefer to take each day as it comes. That’s the joy of a cruise holiday – it can be whatever you want it to be but it always offers the opportunity of waking up every morning in a different place, with personal service and a wealth of memorable experiences.

To help you choose your next cruise go to our easy-to-use search

Read Top 10 tips for choosing a family cruise

Read How to choose the right cruise ship

Read Top tips for shore excursions

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