Cruising – what you need to know

Flash back time… Let’s take a look at the life of cruising. We have taken three cruises out of Brisbane…my opinion – we need more ! Time to answer the questions of those who haven’t yet cruised.

Best place to book through? Check out every site you can find. For instance, P & O Cruises, Oz Cruising, Cruiseabout. What are you looking for? Compare the prices remembering to check if you receive some cabin credit, that can be a big plus. If you feel safer going through a travel agent then do so, it may be a similar price.

Booking early is usually an advantage as prices do increase periodically. By early I’m talking 12 months. Keep in mind, you pay $100-200 per person deposit usually, with the balance not due until around 75 days prior to sailing. To avoid credit card fees, ask for the EFT details, that way you can direct deposit into their account. Although make sure you include the correct reference details or you may end up paying for someone else’s cruise….! This is also a great way to pay your cruise off bit by bit. Each time I processed an EFT, I have always rung the booking agency to let them know.

If you’re willing to take a chance a few weeks out, you could be lucky as they sell any unbooked cabinets cheap. An excellent option if you’re not locked into dates. You too could wake up to these views.
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Which cabin is better? Well what do you want to do? Suggestion .. If you’re there to party opt for the cheaper inside or outside cabins. After all you only want somewhere to sleep and shower. Usually these cabins are lower in the ship. Not a bad choice if you’re worried about seasickness. The most balanced cabin on the ship will be the lowest level in the middle of the ship.

On the other hand if you want to relax and have some quiet time consider a balcony. Check the options carefully, the balcony cabin could well be close to the same price as a mini suite or even suite. Check the extras for each to decide what is most likely to be an advantage to you. Keep in mind, suites are generally close to top deck, towards the front of ship. However stabilisers do mean you barely notice the ship movement, unless it’s a very rough day. The beauty of being higher up the ship- you are closer to the pool deck.

Can you book an inside cabin and be upgraded to a suite? No. Even if it’s your honeymoon, anniversary etc, are you aware how ,many others are on the ship celebrating?…..It won’t happen. You may be upgraded from one level to another on your first cruise in a similar cabin or it may be the next grade up. Once the company establishes your spending pattern, plus if you’ve booked very early and paid before payment was due, the next cruise may see you upgraded to the next cabin level, only if it is available. Free upgrades are not generally advised in advance, you will be told on check in.

What is the attraction for cruising-? To be honest we have stayed here and there but when we cruise you unpack your bags on the first night then wake up to find you’ve arrived in different ports most days. Twice a day, no matter which cabin you book, your steward cleans, tidies and finally turns your cabin down. Food is included and supplied, a seemingly endless supply. Buy a bottle of wine in the cheaper bar then you can take it from bar to bar or back to your cabin, no need to worry about who is driving here!

Food, an important and major decision for my hubby each day. There is the buffet, which to be honest we prefer. Eat when it suits you plus you can choose your own tables. Whereas fine dining, you either eat with the same group of people every meal or you are placed at a random group table.

Our preference was buffet or the specialty restaurants on board. The fine dining was mechanical, rushed and definitely not as enjoyable as the other choices. However this is simply due to the volume of people they have to push through the dining room each sitting. The food on the other hand was superb, I would say that after three cruises we have never had a bad meal on board.

The main fine dining restaurant plus the buffet are included in your cruise price so no more to pay here. There are always a couple of specialty restaurants on board where you will pay a per head surcharge. A surcharge we were willing to pay to enjoy a smaller more personalised restaurant and service. For instance an eight course quiet evening at the Asian restaurant attracted a $20 per head surcharge, definitely worthwhile.

If you want to avoid the crowds on the pool deck, wait for in port days, head back to the ship before the main groups do and enjoy a chilled out time.

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Are cruises over run with kids? No, mainly due to the fact that under maritime law, there is a maximum of each age group, ie under 5 years etc, for each cruise. Plus kids clubs are awesome and any kids we did meet were usually rushing off to their next kids club activity. This applied on the Christmas Cruise we went on too. Yes the pool deck is a popular area for families, there generally is however an adults only bar, sun and pool area.

When first boarding your cruise, visit your cabin to work out your location in the ship and unpack if you like. For this first afternoon only, always take your lifejackets with you as you make your way round orientating yourself to where to find everything. The reason, there is always an emergency drill which everyone on board, including crew must attend. Generally this happens just before the ship sails.

Once this is over, ditch the life jackets in your cabin and head on up for the farewell party on the pool deck. Tip- send one person back to the cabin while one or more head up to secure your table on the pool deck.

Or if you’re not into crowds, pick one of the other quieter bars and chill out with those first cocktails ! No cash anywhere, your cruise card pays for all those extras, feel free to have reception print you off your account every few days to keep track of expenditure. On P & O it’s only your drinks and on board shopping with maybe a few extras here and there that you pay for. If you have kids, they receive their own cruise card. Make sure they understand that yes if opens the cabin door and pays for shopping and things but you still have to pay at the other end! We met some people who had trouble spending their on board credit, so if you’re a non drinker or on a budget you can cruise just for the cost of the cruise.

Different destinations will reviewed over coming months. Happy to provide more information if required. Leave a comment here or like Dine Live Travel on Facebook to send a private message.

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