There are many cruise lines, destinations and styles of cruising, what best suits you for your Ultimate Cruise?
Across the globe, covering all the cultures under the sun, hundreds of destinations, all the world's cuisine, experiences you have only ever heard about, people and places you have never seen. A cruise will get you there with ease. We'll take a look here at the options, and ways to fine-tune to your needs so you get the most out of your cruise.
Unpack Once. Let a professional cook every meal. Wake up in a new port. That's a cruise.Let a cruise take care of YOU
How to choose? Which Line, which Ship?
Experience something new each day.
The choices are almost endless across ships that provide for Family, Expedition, Luxury, Destination, Cultural, Event or Food focussed sailings. Large ship or small? Of the big lines Royal Caribbean themselves have nearly 20% of all worldwide cruises. The next three — Carnival, MSC Cruises and Norwegian bring the total to over 50% of all cruises. Big, Big and Bigger - the Ultra Mega lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian can carry over 5000 people like a floating resort, yet still provide quiet spaces to counter the water parks and go-kart tracks. Of the other big lines Princess, Holland America and Celebrity offer a more sedate pace, while Cunard have a very traditional experience and suit that market accordingly. Carnival is renowned for being a family orientated cruise line.
River cruising is extremely popular in the Kiwi market and provides a variety of seasoned operators from Viking to Avalon, Uniworld, APT and Scenic all offering a differing take on this easy entry into the European river scene.
Expedition trips to the Arctic and Antarctica are increasingly popular with key operators such as Ponant, Lindblad Expeditions, Hurtigruten and Quark Expeditions, and many new players to the market such as Silversea, Viking and Scenic entering from 2022.
The luxury tip has always provided the utmost quality from 5 and six-star lines such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Silversea and Seabourn where almost every conceivable inclusion is provided from the flights & premium drinks to shore excursions. Food is often a key element in the luxury market, and many carry superstar chef based restaurants onboard.
Destination or itinerary?
Do you have a destination that you have always wanted to go to? The beauty of a cruise is that you can see multiple destinations in one area whilst enjoying the ship, see the port, and most probably wake up in a new one!
We recommend shortlisting places you have the greatest interest in, then looking at your other criteria, be it time of year, length or budget as these will often dictate what is available. Some areas like Australia operate virtually all year round, while others like Alaska have a defined season
A cruise is a great tester to see an area with ease, get an idea of it then see another the next day, all taken care of by the ship and not involving multiple airfares or hotels and transfers, so much cheaper.
The amount you spend on a cruise can depend on many things, primarily at the outset the line you choose and the level of cabin from inside with no windows to a suite or above! A cruise is many things in one - accommodation, transport, port transfers, events, evening entertainment, educational classes and lectures, cooking and beverage lessons as well as at least 3 substantial quality meals a day, all included in the one fare.
Also to be taken into account are the incrementals you may buy while onboard or during the cruise. Some of these may or may not be included in the fare from Wi-Fi to gratuities, laundry, alternative restaurant charges, speciality coffees, drinks over meals, and shore excursions.
Paying in advance may alleviate unexpected charges with some of these, the classic case is the drinks package most provide. Depending on the line it may be worthwhile if you would have 3 drinks in a day. This does not take long to accumulate if you envisage having a beer or wine in the afternoon after a shore excursion, then two Gin and Tonics in the Meditteranean sun prior to dinner! Remember there is no need for a taxi, your cabin is a stroll away.
For the ultimate in indulgence, or to celebrate a special occasion a cruise is just the ticket. A luxury cruise line is build around the concept of relaxation and being pampered in a beautiful environment. Many will include speciality restaurants at no charge, a full mini-bar that is replenished daily, or an open bar policy, and unlimited shore excursions.
Consider a suite?
Does your occasion warrant a luxurious suite? The Penthouse? Suites can have a grandeur and spaciousness that is truly astonishing, the very apex of opulence. Guests who desire only the best need not look further if the occasion deserves extravagance. Ring the Butler for a range of privileged services that could include garment pressing and serving your dinner in-suite, course by course. Pamper yourself with luxury amenities. Relax on your private teak veranda. Revel in your suite!
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
is an upgrade an option?
You might want to look at an upgrade and consider those benefits. It can be as simple as moving to a Veranda Stateroom where you might enjoy an expanded room service menu and free laundry service. Differing cabins offer an increasing combination of luxury, privilege and value. Some have a wealth of amenities and a host of exclusive benefits to elevate your experience. If such things as having the ultimate comfort of ordering room service from exclusive restaurant menu during lunch and dinner, unlimited access to the Spa and perhaps a complimentary welcome bottle of Champagne appeal, investigate this option.
Most cruise lines cater for children in some form or another, some specialise such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, however others like Viking have an R18 policy. If you have children then assessing there is a kids club is essential, if there is then rest assured kids will be extremely well catered for with events, the opportunity to meet new friends, dedicated spaces (to keep EVERYONE happy!) and trained hosts. There will be a ratio of cruise staff to children for safety purposes, so it is essential to book in early before slots sell out. Kids clubs on average run from dawn to dusk - breakfast until well after dinner - 10 pm in some cases, so parents can have a meal alone or go to a show. Kids love their independence in the safe environment of a cruise.
Family friendly cruises will normally have a greater pool area, play spaces and water slides as well as tailor games, dinner times and menus to a family environment. Off boat excursions will always include options suitable for children and teens. 24 hour room service is also great for hungry kids!
An Ocean or River Cruise
There are a few main differences between an Ocean or a river cruise. One is the size of the ship, Ocean ones are normally from 500 to 5000 passengers whereas a River cruise is approximately 300. River cruises may have 3 - 4 sizes of cabins, whereas Orean may have 10 - 12 from an inside with no window at 27 square metres, to the whole width of the ship at 300sqm. An Ocean cruise has sea days where the ship is your entertainment - these are great for relaxation. A River cruise will be in a new port every day, many times docked actually at the village or city you are visiting.
If you have a list of must-do inclusions on your cruise wish list this may determine if an Ocean or River cruise is more appropriate. You'll need to take into account if the ship will dock in the harbour and a tender is required, and how far from the destination the port actually is. Many Ocean cruises will require an international flight at the start and the finish, whereas a River cruise will normally be within one region.A cruise makes it easy to travel to a destination, where to stay, travel method and itinerary planning.
Things to consider
As we have summarised, there are many things to consider for a Cruise. Write down these, in the order of most importance -
River or Ocean cruise
Mega ship, mid, small or boutique
Specific destination or area
Event or Food focus
An individual cruise line is not all things to all people, assess your key needs according to the above and ask yourself some of the following questions -
Do you want to stay in touch on your cruise? Or 'disconnect'? Is the cost of Wi-Fi important?
Would you like to sample, try, and experiment with new cuisine? A cruise is a very good way to experiment and indulge in this as it is all paid for.
Is a Balcony important? Does the idea of having breakfast or a drink on your own private balcony at a new port appealing?
Can your cruise get you to places road or rail cannot?
Are the onboard spa or fitness facilities important?
Do you have to go in school holidays?
Do you want to leave from New Zealand, Australia or are the length of short flights to arrive and depart a factor?
Does leaving New Zealand's winter appeal?
Do you want formal nights?
Is exploring the destination of greater benefit to you than exploring the ship?
Do you want to travel solo?
Is dress code important?
Are you specifically after a kids free cruise?