Cruise tips & planning your cruise
Consider the important factors when planning and booking your cruise to ensure successful sailing. Whether you're new to cruising or an expert on the wide open seas, it's always good to have a reminder of everything you need to consider when planning your cruise... because if you get it right, you can rest assured you're about to create a holiday to remember forever. Follow our top tips for booking and set sail for the horizon today!» Cruise seasons
» Packing tips
» Email a specialist
The captain's top tips for booking your cruise holiday
Choose your cruise wisely
The first step in planning your cruise is to decide which of the types of cruise ships you want to set sail on. Big ship, small ship; warm water, glaciers; four nights or four months, it's important that you do your research. What countries do you want to visit? How long do you want to be away? What facilities are important for you to have on your ship?
If going on a large cruise ship, devote some time to choosing the right cabin. Things to consider: beds (singles or double), room to move, bathing facilities, position, to have a balcony or not and, of course, price. If you can afford it, we recommend upgrading from an inside room to an outside room with a view to the ocean, on one of the higher decks.
Where should you book?
When you plan and book any sort of holiday, and in particular a cruise holiday, it helps to have all the advice you can get. There are so many choices out there today that it can get a little confusing. A good travel consultant with personal experience of a number of cruise ships can be invaluable. Ask for help with cabin selection, dining options and travel insurance.
Shop early... or shop late
Cruise lines like to start filling the choicest rooms as much as a year in advance and generally offer incentives for early bookings. We recommend you book early so that you are assured of the cabin type and cruise dates that you want, otherwise you may miss out. On that note - consider booking an outside cabin with balcony... the extra expense is well worth it!
Know peak and non-peak times
The rule of thumb for travel in general applies to cruising as well: If the kids aren't in school, demand and therefore prices, will likely be at their highest.
Ask about special deals
If you're travelling with a group of people, quite often there are substantial savings to be made if you book as a group. Same goes for families - many cruise companies will offer children's discounts.
Elevator or not?
If planning on a river cruise, be sure to ask your consultant if the ship has elevators between decks as only some of the newest built ships do. All others require you to use stairs around the ship.
Most large ships run kids clubs and activity programs all year round, but double-check first. Obtain a program guide and let the kids rank the fun before you hop aboard.
However, if you are the kind of person who likes to make last-minute travel plans, prices sometimes drop as the sailing date approaches and cruise lines get anxious about filling cabins, so check with your consultant. However, this is not guaranteed - if you are sure you want to cruise, then don't hesitate to book well in advance.
If school isn't an issue for you and your travelling companions, consider travelling in the shoulder seasons, when the weather is still good but the crowds have dispersed. Ask your Flight Centre consultant for the specific shoulder seasons for your cruise destination.
If you plan to take the kids it's important to book early to avoid disappointment. All ships are capacity controlled as far as children go. They have a specified number of 0-3 years, 4-9 years and over 9 years that they will allow per cruise. Reservations will be denied if capacity is reached for a particular age group.
On the other hand, if you're taking a holiday to escape the family or to enjoy a romantic escape, then ask your Flight Centre consultant about child-free ships.
As mentioned earlier, making your booking in advance can also snag you potential savings. Often, if you book at least six months in advance, you can receive a large percentage discount off the cost of your cruise.
Finally, if you've sailed a particular cruise line before, mention it to your Flight Centre consultant, because there may even be a deal for repeat customers.