Re: Questions for you seasoned Cruisers..
Originally Posted by Rhian
I'm thinking of booking my first one for this coming August
Either southern Europe or the Canaries..
My first question is..
Does it make a lot of difference if you have an inside or outside cabin.. And is a balcony a must?
How expensive are things like food and drink and entertainment on board?
Being used to All-inclusive holidays I don't really fancy paying through the nose every time I fancy a drink or meal while we sail
I haven't read any of the other responses so apologies for any duplication.
For a first cruise I would 100% recommend you go to the Mediterranean. Either Western Med (which would typically do Barcelona, Rome and so on) or Eastern Med (which would include Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu etc) or a combination of both.
A KEY element of a first cruise is to get accustomed to the movement of a ship and that causes issues for many people, myself included. The ships's motion in rough weather can be initially frightening to newcomers who are not used to it and who think the ship is going to sink at every lurch. You learn of course that the movement is all normal and no problem at all.
For that reason I would advise AGAINST choosing the Canaries for a first cruise IF you are going to do a round trip Southampton to Southampton. Doing so would see you cross the Atlantic Ocean which is hugely fickle and invariably a rough ride.
Cruising in the Med is delightful as it is for the most part, a big lake. You don't get that much wobble in the Med.
If you are intending to Fly-Cruise then you'll find some great cruises that do both East and West Med. The ports are fantastic and the sailing is idyllic.
Choose your cruise line VERY carefully. Everything depends on what type of cruise you want, what type of people you want to be with and so on. There's a wide range of cruise lines. There are "chavy" party cruise lines with zero formality, constant party atmosphere and tons of drunk people. There are very formal cruise lines which others might deem old fashioned and stuffy where certain behaviours are expected. And there are other cruise lines inbetween.
On the basis that you are a classy chick who enjoys dressing up I would think one of the more formal/semi-formal lines would suit you.
I only cruise with P&O. It has a good balance of smart casual and formal nights. So you get plenty of ladies in lovely dresses and gowns and gents in tuxedos on formal nights and a more relaxed atmosphere on smart casual nights. It works for me. Cunard is a step above this, more formal and operates a "class" system which I doubt I would like.
In terms of cabins, YES it makes a hell of a lot of difference what type you have. Again it comes down to how you are likely to spend your time.
On my early cruises back in 2004 we had inside cabins. We spent almost no time in the cabin and were up and out and about all day. These days we chill out much more and love to sit on a balcony reading a book or watching the sea roll by and spotting dolphins and whales etc.
I will warn you now, once you take a balcony, you will never go back to an inside or outside cabin. A balcony cabin is utterly wonderful. Every time you go to your cabin you can just open the French doors and get a breath of fresh sea air and see the sights. Especially good coming into ports and absolutely essential imho on some cruises. If you can afford it, get a balcony.
Position is also vital unless you know that the ship's motion doesn't affect you. If you don't yet know, then definitely make sure you get a cabin which is "midships", right in the centre. Those cabins have the least movement. Do NOT be tempted to get a cheaper cabin right at the front or back of the ship. The movement there is horrendous in comparison if you hit bad weather.
Generally speaking the food is all-inclusive on a cruise. One of the reasons we all put lbs on !!!
Drink varies per cruise line. Personally, and it is personal choice, I wouldn't go with a cruise line where drinks were included or where there were drinks packages. That just results in people drinking to excess (to get their money's worth) and thus you get a ship constantly full of raucous drunks. Each to their own though.
Drinks on P&O cruises are priced about the same as your local pub. So no problem at all.
All the entertainment is included too. There's a "show" every evening in the theatre and a wide range of activities during the day such as dance lessons, seminars, crafting, aerobics, quizzes and so on. Nothing to worry about.
A tiny number of activities have small charges but not many. For example watercolour painting classes charge a small sum for painting materials.
If you do opt to go with P&O let me know and I will explain the different ships and what to expect. Ship selection can be important.