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Top Tips from a Newbie Cruiser

Cruise Advice

With so many options for travel open to those with wanderlust, cruise is a sector often overlooked. It is thought of by many as 'old hat' and 'not for me'. Alas, I confess I was one of those people. However, my eyes have been opened to the idea of cruising, with a recent trip on Ponant's Le Champlain being quite a revelation.

Here are a few of the things that surprised me…

  • Staterooms

Lead in cabins are much larger than you imagine and are ample for two people to spend time in. The plushness of soft furnishings and the well thought out technology and storage locations, mean that staterooms feel comfortable and luxurious and you do not feel you are missing out. An area to consider however, are the bathrooms and the size of the shower, as these can feel compact and of course, if you love to be in the open, a verandah is a plus.

  • Direction of travel

It sounds like a myth, however it really does matter which direction your bed is located in your cabin. If you are a light sleeper or prone to travel/seasickness, it would be worth checking which direction your cabin faces before you travel, as well as which deck it is located on, as this can also reduce the likelihood of sickness.

  • COVID residual impact

You might be asked to wear a mask in common areas of ships, walking around the restaurant or selecting your choices from the buffet. It may be common to see staff and crew in masks as well. Masks may be worn on board if you feel more comfortable wearing one and your vaccination status will be asked for before boarding the vessel.

  • Lifeboat drill

Safety is a number one priority for cruise ships and on every voyage that sails over a 24 hour period, there is a legal requirement that a fire/evacuation drill is completed. This involves heading back to your cabin, finding where your lifejacket has been squirrelled away in a storage compartment and checking the documentation on the back of your cabin door for the location of your muster point, where you join fellow guests and learn what to do in the case of emergency.

  • Dietary concerns

Dietary concerns used to be something that would fill me with dread, as a sufferer from several allergies. Now, many dietary requirements are being catered for, whether they be for medical reasons or personal choices. Vegan and vegetarian menus and restaurants are becoming standard, labelling on menus clearer and staff knowledgeable about the dishes being served. That said, I would recommend speaking to the restaurant manager, just to make sure they understand your dietary needs fully, whilst you are on board.

  • Languages on board

The most common language on most cruise ships is English, however some companies are bi- or even tri-lingual and have announcements in more than one language. Le Champlain, for example, is a French speaking ship, whilst Hapag Lloyd's Europa 2 is German speaking.

  • Demographics on board

One of the major factors that contributes to people's perception of cruising is who they will be sailing with. Will there be children running unattended around the ship or will there be large generational gaps between guests? If this is an area of concern, speak with your cruise consultant who will have all the information you need.

  • Atmosphere

The atmosphere and style of the ship, its crew and staff can contribute massively to your contentment aboard. You might prefer a more discreet service, where crew remember your preferences without asking or you might prefer a more visibly attentive service, where questions are asked of you more often. Each cruise line is different and has their own ways of service and style.

Meet the author

Eleanor is a former Marketing Manager at Mundy Cruising

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