Ask the experts: Latest cruise tips and advice
By Cruise International | 8 Jul 2022
Got a question about cruise holidays or travelling in the pandemic? We spoke to the experts who answered your latest reader questions with up-to-date advice and cruise tips you need to know.
I’m writing on behalf of a group of friends – we are in our 50s and we love to cruise every year. We’re all sad that formal nights seem to be disappearing though, as we miss the sense of occasion! Are there any cruise lines that still uphold black-tie?
Julie Peasgood, TV presenter and Cruise International contributor, says: “There have been changes in dress codes in recent years, with many passengers welcoming a relaxing of the rules, but you’ll be pleased to hear there are a significant number of cruise lines that continue to honour this cruising tradition.
“Match the elegance of your ship on board Cunard, which operates one of the strictest dress codes at sea with its black-tie Gala Nights. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, P&O Cruises, Saga and Royal Caribbean International all offer opportunities to don your ball gowns or cocktail dresses, and you can also pack your finery for Princess, Seabourn, Carnival, Silversea and Hebridean Island Cruises. So you can still dress to the nines at sea!”
We’re tired of airports so we’re thinking about a cruise from Southampton this year, instead of flying. Where can we get to from the UK without too many days at sea, as we like to get off the ship and explore as much as we can.
“A cruise from Southampton, or any UK port, is a great way to help reduce overall travel time,” says Andy Harmer, managing director of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia) UK & Ireland.
“Once you arrive at your departure point you will quickly be on board your ship, and from there you only need to unpack once – it’s a hassle-free way to start your holiday. There are various destination options from the UK, including sailing round Britain, to the Med, northern Europe and even the Caribbean. Speak to a Clia member travel agent, who can advise on the ship and itinerary to suit you best.
“Of course the further you travel, the more likely you are to have sea days. However, don’t be put off if you’ll be spending time at sea. Cruise ships have an incredible range of activities and events on board, from sports and spas to shows. These days you’ll have as much fun exploring on your ship as you will off it.”
I would like to go on a cruise this year but my husband is worried about feeling seasick. Is there anything you can suggest he do to prevent this from spoiling our fun?
Emma Furze, copywriter, Bolsover Cruise Club, says: “There are various ways to help prevent and reduce the effects of seasickness, even before you’ve stepped on board.
“When booking, try to request a cabin on a lower deck, preferably midship, which is where you’ll feel the least movement. A balcony might also be a good idea as fresh air can help ward off nausea.
“I’d also recommend getting travel sickness pills before you sail. They are easy to pick up over the counter from a high street chemist and will only cost a few pounds. While on board, try to keep hydrated. I’ve also heard plenty of people say over the years that looking at the horizon line will help steady you.”
We’re thinking of booking a world cruise, but they always seem to sell out so quickly! Are there usually waiting lists for these, or would we be better off booking back-to-back sailings instead?
James Cole, founder and managing director, Panache Cruises, says: “As with any specific cruise that you are interested in – a world cruise in this case – it is always best to book as soon as you possibly can, to secure your place at the very best price.
“First of all, if the sailing isn’t available to purchase yet, register an interest with your preferred travel agent so that they can book for you as soon as it is. However, if you only see the cruise once it has gone on sale then don’t worry too much – just give your agent a call and ask them to put you on the waiting list because places tend to come available over time.
“Alternatively, review the world cruise sectors to see if there are certain parts of the itinerary you would like to book as an alternative to sailing the full world cruise.”
We’ve never been on a cruise before but we’re keen to give it a go with a Med sailing this summer, but there are so many lines and option to choose from. Where do we start?
“The Mediterranean is a favourite with UK holidaymakers and ideal for anyone planning their first sailing,” says Andy Harmer, managing director of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia) UK & Ireland.
“As most cruise lines head to the Med during the sunny months, you have a wonderful array at your disposal. Decide which part you are thinking about: is it Spain, the south of France and west coast of Italy in the western Med; or something towards the east, including Greece, Croatia and the east coast of Italy? Then think about what kind of experience you would like: a big ship with more choice and options, or something smaller and more intimate?
“To help make the best decision, look no further than a CLIA-accredited agent. Travel agents are experts in matching their customers with the right cruise line, the right ship and the right itinerary. For first-timers, choosing a suitable cruise can seem a daunting process, but agents have the knowledge, expertise and access to the best resources to help. I’m certain you’ll find the ideal ship and itinerary to suit you. Bon voyage!”
I’m keen to go on a cruise but so many companies seem to charge almost double the fare as a single supplement. Are there any cruise lines that won’t penalise me for being a single traveller, and what do they offer for solos on board?
Sarah Wikevand, managing director of ROL Cruise, says: “The popularity of solo cruising is ever-increasing. When I worked on cruise ships, I hosted many solo traveller meet-ups and dinners, and they were always really well attended.
“Over the years, many cruise lines have introduced solo cabins, making cruising inclusive whether you’re on your own or with like-minded solo travellers. Many also arrange exclusive onboard events specifically for solo passengers to help individuals socialise, while others offer traditional assigned seating, which can be sociable for those travelling as a solo cruiser.
“The nature of cruising makes it an ideal way of travelling the world aboard your chosen ship, with the freedom to socialise as much as you wish. My advice is to speak to agents to identify solo offers or solo cabins, to help you find the right cruise line, ship and package to match your requirements and budget.”
With the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, is it safe to go on a Danube cruise and what rights do I have if I want to cancel?
“Currently, it is safe to travel on the Danube. River cruise lines are good at making nimble adaptations in the event of changing circumstances, and they would never put their guests in harm’s way,” explains Edwina Lonsdale, managing director at Mundy Cruising.
“There is no Foreign Office advice against travel to the countries you will visit on a Danube cruise, so there should be no expectation to be able to cancel without penalty. Having said that, many companies still have in place the flexible cancellation terms they introduced during Covid, allowing you to roll monies forward or move a deposit to a different booking. Take the time to talk it through with your expert cruise consultant.”
We missed out on our silver wedding celebrations last summer so we’re making up for it by splashing out on a big holiday to Alaska next year. Would we be better off upgrading our stateroom to a suite, or upgrading to a luxury line but with a more basic room category?
James Cole, founder and managing director, Panache Cruises, says: “When you’re booking a cruise for a special occasion such as a silver wedding anniversary, it’s important to get it right. I always advise customers to look at the total cost of the cruise, rather than the initial cost.
“Many mainstream cruise lines charge a lower ticket price – the cost to get on board – but have considerable extra charges for the likes of drinks, excursions, speciality dining, Wi-Fi and tips or gratuities when on the vessel. As a result, the costs can be a lot higher than originally thought.
“In contrast, most luxury and ultra-luxury cruise lines have a higher cost to get on board but include most or all the extras as part of the initial price, so the overall cost to cruise on a luxury ship is not as much as you might initially think. Also, on many luxury and ultra-luxury cruise ships, suites are the standard accommodation type so that’s included too, and with some you even get your very own personal butler! So our advice would be to consider a luxury or ultra-luxury line and compare the total cost of the cruise, not just the initial price.”
What happens if there are Covid cases detected on our ship – will we be conﬁned to our cabins or can we be tested and then get on with our holiday?
Andy Harmer, managing director of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia) UK & Ireland, says: “In most instances, passengers will be able to continue their holiday thanks to the cruise lines’ multi-layered approach.
“This includes additional testing, enhanced sanitisation, contact tracking and the use of isolation and quarantine for those who test positive. There are some differences based on the ship, itinerary and specific protocols, and passengers are advised to speak to their cruise line before departing if they would like further information.”
We tried our first cruise around the UK last summer and loved it – where should we go next?
“When UK cruising finally restarted after the cruise lockdown, it was lovely to see so many people taking advantage of these great-value UK cruises,” says Becky Fantham, Cruise International contributor.
“It seems like you’ve caught the cruise bug – there’s no going back now! Seeing as you loved the beauty of the British Isles, I’d wager you’d enjoy discovering the unspoilt, and rather dramatic, majesty of the Norwegian fjords.
“You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to cruise lines: I’d recommend the cool Scandi vibes of P&O Cruises’ Iona, Princess Cruises’ chic Sky Princess or brand-new British cruise line Ambassador, sailing from Tilbury.”
We haven’t seen our grandkids as much as we’d like during the pandemic. We’d love to take the family on a cruise, but what can we book that will have enough for all three generations to do – and enough space if we get sick of each other?
Julie Peasgood, Cruise International contributor and columnist, suggests: “I am a big fan of multigenerational cruises, having had quality time and a unifying experience with my daughter, her husband and 18-month-old granddaughter.
“Focus on the bigger, newer ships with plenty of facilities, kids’ clubs, entertainment and activities for all ages. We travelled with P&O Cruises, but other notable lines for families are NCL, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival and MSC.
“Arrange for adjacent or perhaps interconnecting cabins, though don’t feel you have to do everything together. Instead, choose a time each day to meet up and take it in turns to pick the venue. For destinations, think about the Caribbean, Europe or even Alaska, and consider excursions that appeal to the whole family to create happy memories on land as well as at sea.”
Got a question? Get in touch with our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.