Cruising during the holidays is anything but the typical ship experience you might find during less festive times of the year. While celebrating a holiday at sea means you can avoid the associated cooking and cleaning that the traditional holiday celebrating brings you, you’ll have the best experience if you put a little effort into planning the best holiday cruise you could ever imagine.
Here are 5 tips for booking holiday cruises:
When to Book
If you want to lock in your preferred itinerary, ship, cabin and dining group and have as much time as possible to look for affordable airfare, book early (nine to 12 months in advance). You might end up paying a premium for this level of security. However, most lines announce their best deals early and will adjust your rate if public fares go down after you book.
Whether you plan to sail from Southampton with the family, or taking an adult only cruise, deciding on a big-ship-versus-mid (or small) -ship is important.
Larger ships – This size has space for huge playrooms, swimming pools with slides and video arcades. This size is a great choice for families with school-age kids. However, these ships can sometimes be overrun with youngsters during holiday sailings, so if you want a quiet, adults only getaways, you may want to rethink it.
Mid-size ships – These are more conducive to parents with young children who want to socialize with other adults or multi-generational groups.
Small luxury ships – Small ships tend to have fewer kids and a more mature clientele. Most mainstream and premium ships have youth activities, and others have more creative and large-scale programming than others.
When booking airfare, remember that flights at this time of the year can be outrageously pricey. Try to book your flights early, or buy the cruise line’s air package. Another tip: At this time of year, it’s a very good idea to fly into your departure city a day early. With flights so crowded, or a cancellation due to weather might cause you to miss your cruise.
The holidays are a perfect time to splurge for a balcony, so you can make the most of your holiday cruise. Families should consider family suites that sleep multiple people or book adjoining cabins. But book early; the best cabins – particularly family suites and anything with a balcony may be booked way in advance travelers who celebrate this way every year.
Ships on a regular weekly schedule are likely to maintain their normal itineraries, so you may end up in a port on Christmas Day when everything’s closed but the cathedral and the beach. On the other hand, some cruise lines with varying itineraries will often try to arrange for ships to spend big holidays at sea. Decide if you want to be at sea on Christmas and look for ships that can accommodate for that. Cruises that last longer than seven days usually have a balance of port and sea time into their itineraries.