10 top tips on cruising this summer 

The trend to head on a cruise for your holidays continues to get bigger with more and more people opting to travel by sea. It’s become so popular that companies are continuously planning and  launching new and ever more exciting ships.

The latest launch you may have seen hit the headlines last week is the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas, the largest in the world! Harmony isn’t the only new ship the company has launched this year. Only one month earlier, the Ovation of the Seas joined the fleet.

Last month we joined the Ovation on the first leg of its repositioning sailing; it’s heading towards South East Asia and Australia.

The Ovation is much the same as its sister ship, Anthem of the Seas and having joined it on a Med cruise last year, we knew what to expect. Food, drink, entertainment, activities and chilling out. Actually that’s what most cruises are about; maybe that’s why our cruise count is in the teens now.

During that time we’ve learnt a bit about cruising and what to expect. Here’s our top 10 tips.

  1. Sign up to the mailing lists for cruise discounters. Cruisenation are good. Then head to your local travel agent (we use Oasis Travel) and get a price match. Sometimes you’ll get an even better deal when booking through them, we got a price match and an extra bonus of a cabin upgrade.
  2. Unless you are desperate for peace of mind, try not to book the flights with the cruise company, get your travel agent to price the flights separately, they can often be a lot cheaper. We ended up having an extra night before and after the cruise including accommodation for cheaper than the cruise company flight option. 
  3. Before you board, check in online, upload everything you can and need to and print out your boarding pass. The travel agent will be able to do everything. Ultimately it speeds up boarding time at the port. We got from luggage drop off to our cabin in 15 minutes. 
  4. Speciality dining. Restaurants on board are always pretty good, but the speciality restaurants are a lot more special and worth trying out. Royal Caribbean had a great pre cruising package for speciality dining which we’d definitely recommend you pre book.
  5. Drinks package. Always a hot debate on whether it’s worth it. Check out all the options and work out how much you’ll drink to figure out if it’s worth it for you.
  6. Tips. Sometimes already included, sometimes not. Your travel agent will let you know. You can opt out of this when you’re on board. But we always feel that the crew work so hard and provide such great service, and are often away from home for months on end to earn money for the family back home, that we’d be a bit mean to deny them something extra in their salary.
  7. Don’t get off at every port, unless you’re desperate to see everything. A day on board when many of your fellow passengers are off exploring is a great opportunity to explore the ship while it’s virtually empty!
  8. You’ll eat lots and lots, it’s hard to resist!!! Very hard!! So don’t use the lifts and opt for the stairs. And get in some relaxing laps around the running/walking track on board. It’s easy to reach your 10,000 daily steps, and the end result is you can enjoy all that glorious food and drink and not feel quite as guilty!
  9. Start your day by avoiding the rush at the breakfast buffet, and enjoy the free room service. Get breakfast delivered to your cabin, then sit out on your balcony if you have one, enjoy the morning sun, relax and tuck in.
  10. Research the ports of call before you arrive. Find out the top things to do in each port, search for free stuff to do. Cruise critic is handy for research and tips from other cruisers. Just do plenty of pre cruise research, and you could save a fortune by not paying for those expensive cruise company excursions.

Most of all, just relax and enjoying feeling pampered. 

Happy cruising!

Post Author: Belfast Times

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