Cruising guide for beginners: What you need to know

Cruising has a magnetic pull on seasoned sailors and newcomers alike — and here's why.

Picture drifting off to sleep in a luxurious bed after relishing a delectable meal and a night of entertainment, only to awaken in an entirely different location. Picture: Supplied

Picture drifting off to sleep in a luxurious bed after relishing a delectable meal and a night of entertainment, only to awaken in an entirely different location.

It sounds like the start of a captivating novel, doesn't it? However, this scenario isn't fictional—it's what makes cruising so captivating and its primary allure. Cruising promises a seat to this changing window view, a reality of modern ocean voyages, and a compelling reason to embark on such a journey.

But what exactly is the essence of cruising? Are your preconceived notions accurate, or is there more to the story? Cruising has a magnetic pull on seasoned sailors and newcomers alike—those who've set sail before and those who've never set foot on a ship.

While some may perceive cruising as costly, overcrowded, rigid, confining, and uneventful, today's reality is far from these assumptions.

**Reality #1: It's not just about sailing**

Cruising encompasses a vast array of options, from Mediterranean escapades around the Greek Islands to tropical Caribbean getaways. Cold regions are also part of the itinerary, with Arctic Circle expeditions and explorations of Scandinavian fjords. River cruises, less known but equally captivating, traverse the European Danube, American Mississippi, African Nile, and Asian Yangzi. For the sake of this exploration, let's focus on ocean cruises.

Imagine a floating luxury hotel, journeying from destination to destination. Ocean cruises provide worry-free holidays, with virtually everything needed for a memorable experience on board. Unique offerings like Arctic Circle voyages, granting an unprecedented view of the Northern Lights, exemplify the remarkable experiences that cruising presents.

Reality #2: Affordable luxury

Contrary to common belief, cruising doesn't have to break the bank. When considering that meals, accommodations, and entertainment are bundled into the base fare, cruises often prove more economical than resort stays. While extra expenses for drink packages, spa treatments, speciality restaurants, and excursions can add up, they generally align with land-based counterparts.

Off-peak bookings can yield substantial savings. Many top cruise lines offer "all-inclusive" packages covering accommodation, food, onboard entertainment, and select activities. Clarifying costs with travel experts ensures transparency and helps avoid hidden charges.

**Reality #3: Not just for seniors**

Cruising caters to a broad demographic, with the average cruiser age around 47. While longer itineraries might attract older travellers, families, groups, singles, and couples of various ages find cruises appealing. Cruise lines increasingly cater to adventurous spirits, offering activities like rock climbing, surfing, ziplining, and waterparks. Diverse shore excursions range from glacier hikes to stand-up paddleboarding.

**Reality #4: Far from boring**

Gone are the days of mundane activities like bingo and shuffleboard. Modern ships are entertainment hubs, boasting rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, surf simulators, zip lines, bowling alleys, gyms, video arcades, cooking classes, wine tastings, casinos, and much more. Daytime offers an abundance of options, while evenings feature shows, music performances, outdoor movies, lectures, karaoke, and piano bars. Each day offers new port adventures, from sightseeing to snorkeling, enriching the journey.

**Reality #5: Seasickness solutions**

Modern cruise ships are equipped with stabilisers that minimise motion discomfort. Unless rough seas and susceptibility to seasickness coincide, feeling queasy is unlikely. Choosing a cabin mid-deck and preparing with anti-nausea remedies provides added peace of mind.

**Reality #6: Freedom of space**

While ships sail between ports, passengers enjoy onboard activities, dining, and entertainment. Ships dock during the day, allowing ample time for exploration on land. The sheer size of modern cruise liners, akin to floating resorts, ensures ample open deck space, diverse entertainment, and connectivity options.

**Reality #7: Health-conscious offerings**

Cruise ships offer 24/7 dining and diverse menus, catering to health-conscious individuals with low-calorie, low-carb, and vegetarian options. Opportunities to stay active include gyms, yoga classes, jogging tracks, and active excursions. Port activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding provide calorie-burning adventures.

Cruising offers an unparalleled experience, but understanding costs and options is crucial. Research, talk to travel experts, and be aware of fees, gratuities, and onboard services. Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, or exploration, cruising caters to various desires.

So, reach out to Flight Centre's knowledgeable team of Cruise Experts and embark on a cruise tailored to your preferences. Your dream voyage awaits!