Think a cruise holiday might be for you – but not quite sure? We at Cruise&Travel Asia know that holidays at sea are relatively new to the region. So we’ll be running a regular feature each week to help you weigh the pros and cons.
To kick off – and remember, we LOVE to cruise – here are six things you need to know before you set sail.
1. Modern cruise ships carry anything from more under 100 to more than 6,000 passengers, so it’s important to choose the right size for you. To do that, you’ll need to understand the terminology that the cruise lines use to describe their vessels. As a general rule, large or resort ships carry 1,751 to 6,500 passengers, mid-size ships carry 751 to 1,750 passengers and boutique ships carry 251 to 750 passengers. Small ship refers to any vessels carrying less than 250 people.
2. As with ships, cabins come in all shapes and sizes. And we really mean ALL shapes and sizes! But generally, they’re in four categories: inside (no window or porthole); ocean‑view (with window or porthole); balcony (with small private balcony); and suites (separate sleeping and living area). Technology has expanded choices: inside cabins can now be fitted with ‘virtual balconies’, essentially large screens that stream live images of the sea. Single cabins are perfect for solo travellers while families can spread out in interconnecting rooms. Suite passengers can splash out on vast two-storey cabins with private gardens, in-suite spas and 24-hour butler service.
3. Cruising is excellent value for money. On-board meals, entertainment and activities are included in your fare and there are no transport costs. There are always extras that you can spend money on (like alcohol, premium restaurants, spa treatments or excursions), but if you’re on a tight budget you don’t need to pay a single dollar more once you step aboard.
4. It’s also a completely stress-free way to travel. When passengers are asked the number one reason they love to cruise, many answer: “Because I can really relax.” Cruise ship travel takes the worry out of a holiday on the move. You unpack only once, your ship moves effortlessly from one exciting city to the next, and the crew graciously take care of everything from serving the drinks to making he beds. The journey becomes an elegant voyage of discovery rather than a stressful battle with traffic, airlines schedules and queues.
5. Large cruise ships are cities at sea. If only life at home were as easy as this! Onboard, going between your favourite restaurant, a 3D movie, the store and the bar for a quiet nightcap only requires a few short elevator rides. These ships offer luxury brand boutiques, hair and beauty services, nightly entertainment, kids clubs, fitness centres and anything else you could want.
6. Most cruises will be a mix of ‘sea days’ (where the ship is moving and all passengers stay onboard) and ‘port days’ (where the ship stops at a destination). On sea days, you’ll be able to explore the ship and try out all the onboard facilities. The crew will also organise extra activities, like karaoke, trivia, sports tournaments, dance lessons and games. On port days, passengers are encouraged to get off the ship and explore the new destination either on their own or with an organised excursion booked onboard. Of course, you can always choose to stay onboard.
Have we convinced you? Tell us what you think – and tell us about your first cruise! We are keen to hear your experiences.