If you are choosing a cruise, where do you start? Nicholas Dalton gathers experts’ top tips on finding and planning a cruise.

Liz Jarvis, Editor, went with Disney to the Bahamas on her first cruise

“All cruise ships are different, so it’s a case of choosing the ship that would appeal to you most,” says Andy Harmer, director of the Association of Cruise Experts. “It could be a larger ship with plenty of facilities or a small intimate one that can access ports other ships can’t. There are river and expedition ships that explore off-the-beaten-track destinations around the world. You need to decide the style of holiday you are looking for, then think about where in the world you would like to visit.”

Cruises from a home port – particularly if you live nearby – can be more relaxing and cheaper than those that involve flying. If you’re not sure whether cruising is for you, “try a short cruise,” suggests P&O managing director Carol Marlow. There are more short breaks than ever before, she adds, with P&O including entertainment from top names including Russell Watson and Britain’s Got Talent duo Jonathan and Charlotte.

Decide what is most important to you – the destinations or the ship – and work from there. Some cruises have a stop every day (so you’re on board for late afternoon and evening) while others can be at sea for days at a time.

champagne-glasses-for-web150Watch out for all-inclusive cruises, says Silver Travel Advisor – they can be great value for those who like a drink, but if you’re a person of more modest tastes you’ll be subsidising other passengers.

River cruises offer the adventure of a cruise combined with that of an escorted tour. Excursions and guided walks are included in the price – which is very good value if you like seeing a destination to the full. Many river cruises also offer wine with dinner, leaving little else to pay for.

My first cruise…

“It was with Disney to the Bahamas. My son was thrilled with the kids’ club, we both learned to snorkel and I couldn’t believe how much better I slept on a ship.” Liz Jarvis, Editor of Cruise International.

Read How to Prepare for a Cruise

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