Setting sail is one of the most scenic ways to explore a new destination and lucky for us, there are many options to choose from. The first step will be deciding where (and when) you want to tour, whether it’s the Mediterranean in summer or the Nordics in winter (to spot the Northern Lights). From there, you’ll find options ranging from short, 2-night cruises to longer sails of up to two or three weeks.
Once you’ve covered the basics, it’s time to start really envisioning your trip. From safety on board to the guest-to-staff ratio, here are 5 factors to consider when booking your next cruise.
1) Your safety on board
Let’s go ahead and get the logistics out of the way. Consider your health and safety top priorities. Yes, cruises are super safe but you could end up sick, even if it’s just a bad case of sea sickness. It might sound extreme (and it is), but there’s always the potential for needing Medical Repatriation (returning to your home country in the case of emergencies).
In these cases, you’ll likely receive initial treatment locally, so in this case, at the nearest port. However, you may want or need further medical treatment and prefer it carried out in your home country. It makes sense; you’ll want to see the doctors who know your medical history and can therefore make an informed decision about your health. Plus, being near your friends and family back home can do wonders for your mental health and overall recovery.
Medical Air Service is one of the most reputable options and for good reason. They can help you pretty much anywhere in the world, regardless of your insurance package. Even better, they’ll handle all the communication with public authorities, clinics and consulates, so you can simply focus on getting better.
2) The ship’s social atmosphere
We’ll cover this a little later on the post, but as a starting point, you’ll want to think about the “vibe” you’re going for. There are cruises for just about every occasion. Some are family friendly and include many amenities for young children, while others are more apt for young adults (like music-themed cruises where bands perform each night of the sail).
Other cruises might have a more cultural slant, such as cuisine, wellness or even fitness. It’s important to think about a ship’s atmosphere because you’ll want it to align with your needs. If you value cuisine and art, then maybe skip the party vibe and go for a more bespoke offering. Similarly, if you’re traveling with young children, make sure the ship has all the amenities that will help you relax on board.
3) The guest-to-staff ratio
When researching cruises, it’s important to think about the atmosphere on the actual ship. Yes, there will be off-shore excursions but for a significant portion of the sail, you’ll be onboard and left to your own devices. Most ships offer various forms of entertainment, from outdoor pools and swim up bars to fitness centers and spa treatments. That said, usually a smaller staff-to-passenger ratio means more personal touches.
When I sailed on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer, there were only about 900 fellow passengers, which is definitely on the smaller side compared to other ships that house two to three thousand passengers, and it did make quite a difference. It does usually come with a higher price tag, so consider this before booking.
4) Complimentary amenities vs. add-ons
Some travelers value a higher-end cruise, while others are fine with basic accommodations and prefer to spend their money offshore. As noted before, many cruise ships are designed for entertainment. You’ll probably find a heated pool on the deck, as well as a walking track to stretch your sea legs. Some cruises also offer private cabanas, for passengers craving a more quiet time.
Another aspect to think about is alcohol. Many of the less expensive sails you’ll see advertised include meals but not alcohol. So, if you plan to have several cocktails by the pool, you’ll be charged. For those who aren’t into the whole party vibe, this won’t be a problem, but it’s always good to consider ahead of time. A couple of drinks at the pool bar can really add up.
5) The layout of your room
While it’s easy to choose the most affordable stateroom option, really think about this one. Why? Well, cruises can be a bit overwhelming for the introverts among us and you’re going to need an escape from the crowds at some point. Coming “home” to a spacious statemroom, can sometimes be the way to recharge.
Many cruises offer 4 or 5 options, from Interior (the most basic) to suites (the most spacious and also the most expensive). If you’re not sure which to book, I’d recommend going for one with an ocean view. Bonus points if it comes with a balcony.
Have you booked a cruise before? Tell me how it went!
This post is in collaboration with Medical Air Service . All opinions are my own.
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