Are thinking of booking a cruise? I share our top ten things you should consider when booking a cruise. It might even save you some money!
I have recently returned from our third cruise with P&O (read our P&O Ventura Christmas Cruise Review). We never expected to become the family that loved cruising. I, for one, have a fear of the sea so you would hardly think that cruising would become a firm favourite of mine, but it has. We ended up on our first cruise as a last-minute booking due to our other holiday being unexpectedly cancelled. I was very nervous about what to expect but as it turned out all of my fears were unfounded. Cruising with P&O is perfect for families. However, there are some things that you might want to consider. Here are my ten things you should consider when booking a P&O cruise:
10 things you should consider when booking a P&O cruise
- Book direct and either very early or very last-minute. If you book early then you are eligible for the early saver price and you will have the pick of the cabins. However, booking last-minute means you can pick up a bargain, but, there will be less choice
- You should consider an inside cabin. We have always booked an inside cabin as that is by far the cheapest option. The first time we cruised I was concerned that I would be staying in a glorified broom cupboard; I couldn’t have been more wrong. It felt really luxurious and spacious. An inside cabin is also a really good option for a family with young children as you will probably find that they sleep really well as a result. Win! An inside cabin works well for us because it means that the sunlight doesn’t wake the kids and actually we decided that spending money on a room with a balcony would be a waste as we hardly spend any time in the cabin
Fun for the family?
- Is it a family friendly cruise? If you don’t like children then there are adult only cruises you can do. On the other cruises there will be children. Cruising is very family friendly and the kids’ clubs are the best I have come across. I can’t keep my two out of them. Kids’ club is at no extra cost and they can go all day and in the evening too. Make sure you register them as soon as you get on board.
- There will be formal nights. The men are expected to wear a tux or lounge suit and tie and the women a formal dress. If you try to eat in a restaurant on these nights and you are not in the appropriate wear then you may find that you are turned away. The same applies in the bars. Personally we loved having an excuse to dress up.
- If you haven’t cruised before then you might want to consider a shorter cruise first. 7 nights would be a good place to start.
How to save money
- If you find that you really like your cruise and want to do another one then you should consider booking on board. They offer lots of incentives to get you to book on board. You can book a future cruise with just £50 deposit and you will be rewarded with extra on-board spend. On-board spend is the money that you already have in your account when you board at the beginning of the cruise So you might have £200 pounds already in the account and then you can use that towards trips off the boat, alcoholic drinks etc. If you stay loyal to P&O then every time you cruise with them you earn points and this means you get put in a tier. The higher the tier you are in, the bigger the discount on board.
- Your cruise itinerary: Do you want sea days or would you rather be hopping from port to port every day? Some people don’t like sea days. We love them as we use them as a time to properly relax, use the facilities and let the children go to kid’s clubs. There is also lots of activities on board, something for everyone.
- You might want to bear in mind that booking the organised onshore trips with P&O works out more expensive than if you went direct. However, going with P&O does guarantee you peace of mind. We tend to sort ourselves out. P&O will always put a coach on to take you into the town, if it is a bit of a walk. This is either included in your price or there is a very nominal cost.
- What’s included with P&O? With P&O all of your food is included, unless you want to book in one of their specialist restaurants. You really don’t need to though as the food is so good in their standard restaurants. Water, coffee and tea is also included. You are allowed to bring on board with you a reasonable amount of booze for your cabin. Your cabin has a fridge where you can keep this. On-board entertainment and kids’ club is included as well as use of the swimming pools etc. You have to pay if you want ice-creams by the pool, booze, and coffees from costa coffee or one of the bars. You have to pay for their organised trips.
How do you tip?
- Tips: You need to be aware that a non-discretionary surcharge of £5.50 per adult per day is added to your final bill. Whilst we didn’t have a problem with this as we always found the service to be fantastic, it is something you need to be aware of so that you don’t get a nasty surprise. You can go to reception and ask for the surcharge to be amended or removed if you are unhappy with the service you have received. You also don’t use cash on board as you hand over your cruise card and settle your bill at the end of the cruise.
If you are worried about whether cruises are family friendly then worry no more. We have found them to be the most family friendly holidays ever. We enjoy them because we get to travel around without the worry and the kids are happy as there is so much for them to do.
Have you been on a cruise or are you thinking of going on a cruise?