Find Your Perfect Cruise

Ask these 5 simple questions to find the cruise that suits you.

Find Your Perfect Cruise

Did you know that Australia is the 4th largest cruise passenger source market in the world? For such a small country, we’ve got a pretty big appetite for cruising!

With an astounding 600 ship visits by 36 ships docking in ports all around Australia in the 2014/15 cruise season and cruise ads being flung at us from every angle, how do you find the right cruise for you?

Some travellers who’ve had or heard of a bad cruise experience may vow to never set foot on a cruise ship again. The ship may have been too busy and noisy, the activities not enjoyable, the food not what they had hoped for, or their cabins not up to scratch. Sometimes things happen which are out of your control and that can wreck the holiday for you. But sometimes it could just be that the cruise was not the one for you.

If you’ve never cruised before, it’s important to find one that you’ll be compatible with, otherwise you may be put off cruising for ever and miss out on what over a million Australians enjoy every year!

The ‘best’ cruise for someone else may not be the best one for you. As always, to get the best value out of your cruise, you need to do a little bit of research so that you actually spend your money on the things that interest you.

With that in mind, here are the Top 5 questions you should ask yourself to help you book the right cruise:

1. What do I want to do?

Have a think about what you’d like to do on the cruise:

  • What destinations do you want to visit?
  • Do you want to just enjoy the things on board the ship or are you an active person keen on getting out and do the off-shore excursions?
  • Is the type of food important to you?
  • Do you want lots of on-board entertainment?
  • Are you looking for a quiet relaxing holiday?
  • Are you bringing the whole family and looking forward to a family party on-board?

Usually, the bigger the ship, the more it can offer, in terms of food, entertainment and on-board activities. Of course, this also means there’ll be more passengers on board.

The advantage of smaller ships is that they’re more intimate, they can dock at smaller ports are and better able to take you to nature oriented destinations like Antarctica and the Galapagos – locations where the larger ships can’t.

 2. How long do I want to go for and when?

Deciding on the duration and timing of your trip will certainly help you whittle down the list of cruises you might choose.

  • Cruises can range from just 3 – 4 days (a cruise ‘taster’) to 100 day cruises and everything else in between. Carnival and P & O Cruises offer shorter trips of 2 – 7 nights, while Cunard and Holland America can offer 100+ day cruises!
  • As with all holidays, peak season equals higher cost and more crowds. But it also means desirable weather conditions, and for some countries, when a lot of the attractions are open. However, with the number of cruise lines operating and the different routes zig-zagging through the Northern and Southern hemispheres throughout the year, you’ll be sure to find a cruise destination that suits you.

3. How much do I want to pay?

Low-priced or Five Star cruise? Your budget will further help you to cull the list of possible cruise lines.

  • The advertisements you see for cruises are certainly enticing, with some charging less than $100/night for food, activities and accommodation, or offering free flights to get to your cruise. Make sure you read the fine print because the cabin you get for $100/night will often be a small ‘inside’ cabin with no windows looking onto the sea. If you’re keen on a room with a view, you’ll need to pay more. To get the free flight you’ll probably need to pay upfront for the whole cruise at least a year in advance.
  • Buying in advance is great if you’re able to, but make sure you look into getting cruise travel insurance which includes cancellation cover as soon as you pay. This means that if you unexpectedly get sick or injured before you leave for your cruise and need to cancel your trip, you can put a claim in to recoup the money.
  • On the budget cruises, the base cost usually won’t get you into the specialty restaurants, alcohol, tips for the staff, internet and on shore excursions. The higher end cruises usually include more in their up-front costs.
  • Whether it’s cheaper to book 12 months in advance or at the last minute is still up for debate and really depends on whether you’re able to book that far in advance or able to leave on short notice. In general, you should book 6 -12 months in advance to make sure you get the ship, cabin and itinerary you want.

4. What type of cabin do I want?

The cabin you get may make or break your holiday even if you plan to take advantage of all the facilities available, because you’ll need to spend some time there eventually! 

  • The location of the cabin is important. If you want a quiet, peaceful sleep, pick  a cabin away from the pool deck (unless you want to hear a lot of splashing or pool parties at the crack of dawn or late into the night), the bar, show lounges or self-service laundrettes. Also try to avoid cabins which are situated low and at the back or front, due to their proximity to the ship’s engines.
  • If you tend to get sea sick or claustrophobic, get a cabin with a window, a balcony or one that’s lower down and closer to the centre of the ship as there will be less roll and sway there. It will probably cost more, but may mean the difference between a great holiday and a dud one.
  • Balcony or no balcony? Depends! If you’re planning to spend all your time making use of the ship’s facilities – pool, sun decks, restaurants and shows, or on shore, it may not be worth paying the extra money for one. But if you’re keen on avoiding the crowds and having some private time in the fresh air, then a balcony would be ideal. Remember though, to take into account the weather at the time of your cruise – if you’re cruising in a cold location, it may not be pleasant to be sitting outside.
  • If you’re going on an Alaskan cruise, try to book a cabin on the right (starboard) side of the ship if you’re on a northbound cruise and a cabin on the left (port) side of the ship on the southbound trip – you’ll get a view of the fantastic coast line.
  • And remember, not all cabins in the same ‘category’ are created equal.

5. What type of traveller am I?

Cruise ships may look similar and take similar routes but they do tailor their on and off board activities to a specific market. For example, Carnival cruises appeal to the outgoing, fun-loving traveller while Celebrity attracts the quieter, introverted crowd.

Cruise Line

 Traveller Type

 Cruise Style*






Group of








Mid Range

High End










Coral Expeditions








Holland America










P & O


Regent Seven Seas


Royal Carribean





* Cruise Style definition:

Active  -  Travellers who are keen on participating in lots of on-board activities.

Foodie - Travellers who want a cruise that's focused on quality food, including appearances by celebrity chefs and cooking masterclasses.

Adventure - Travellers who want to get up close with the history, culture and  wildlife of their destinations, rather than spending a lot of time on board.




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Fast Cover - Sally

About the author

Sally is a travel insurance specialist and content writer at Fast Cover who enjoys researching new destinations for the monthly newsletters and Spotlight posts. A dumpling connoisseur and food blogger at heart, she has outlasted everyone at the stand-up desk and is the only reason the office plants are still alive.

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