Finally, it seems, cruise holidays are shaking off their ‘fuddy-duddy’ image and gaining popularity with holidaymakers of all ages, whether young couples and honeymooners seeking a romantic escape to far-flung destinations, families with children who want the convenience of round-the-clock mealtimes and unlimited on board entertainment to keep the kids amused or older folk who prefer to travel the world in the stress-free comfort and style of a modern cruise ship rather than having to endure long-haul flights.

This new-found and rising popularity of cruise holidays is big business: cruises from Southampton, Britain’s foremost cruise port, annually carry more than half a million passengers to destinations worldwide and as more and more holidaymakers are bitten by the cruise bug, those numbers are steadily increasing.

Anyone new to cruise holidays can find the prospect of adjusting to, and getting the most out of, life on board a little daunting. To help cruise holiday newbies enjoy the very best cruise experience here are 10 insider tips for better cruise holidays.

1) Arrive at your embarkation port a day early
Whether you’ve booked cruises from Southampton, Liverpool, Dover or wherever, arriving at your cruise embarkation port the day before departure removes any last minute stress and avoids the possibility of missing your cruise due to unforeseen delays.

2) Don’t overpack for your cruise

You really don’t need to pack mountains of clothes for a cruise holiday, and nobody will care what you look like. Take only what is comfortable, practical and what you know for sure you will wear, and remember that cruise ships offer laundry and dry-cleaning facilities.

3) Take the time to familiarise yourself with the ship

Not only is exploring a cruise ship great fun, it’s also time well-rewarded when you want to be first in the queue for something ahead of passengers who are stumbling around lost because they didn’t take time to get their bearings on board.

4) Board the ship as soon as possible on the first day…

It’s pointless hanging around in your embarkation port if you could be on board your cruise ship and enjoying the facilities it has to offer. You’ve paid for that first day so get on board as soon as you can and start enjoying the cruise holiday experience.

5) … but be sure to get an early first night

It’s tempting to stay up late and take advantage of everything on offer on the first night of a cruise holiday, but chances are that the excitement is masking your tiredness. Getting an early first night means that you can wake up refreshed and fully enjoy your first full day at sea.

6) Don’t let the possibility of seasickness spoil your cruise

The causes of seasickness are part physical and part psychological. Modern cruise ships have been designed for maximum stability at sea, and nowadays seasickness amongst cruise passengers is a rarity. Over-the-counter remedies and seasickness wrist bands can help, as can taking a lower cabin toward the centre of the ship. However, the best prevention is to forget about the possibility of seasickness altogether, and relax and enjoy your cruise.

7) Don’t try to fit too much in

Modern cruise ships offer countless entertainments, activities and leisure facilities all day, every day. From wine-tasting to cake-decorating classes, yoga, dance and aerobics sessions, bingo, deck sports and anything else you can think of. A daily itinerary of activities will be provided allowing you to pick and choose those you like the most. But remember – activities are not compulsory; it’s your holiday to relax and spend exactly as you choose.

8) Book onshore excursions as early as possible

The most popular tours and activities in destination ports book up quickly. As soon as you have a list of bookable excursions (you might be able to obtain this from the cruise line’s website before you travel) decide which you’d like to do and book them without delay. Bear in mind that you can explore a destination port independently without booking a tour, but returning to the ship on time is crucial.

9) A little courtesy, friendliness and generosity goes a long way

Tipping cruise ship staff for good service is essential, so if tips aren’t included in the price of your cruise build up a stack of small denomination notes and coins to create a ‘tip fund’ before you travel. Appropriate tipping, accompanied by a friendly and polite attitude when talking to the ship’s staff can pay dividends in terms of extra perks and good service.

10) Don’t eat it all at once

With unlimited buffet-style food available whenever you want it day or night, and usually included in your fare it can be tempting to over indulge. Grazing is fine but it’s best to go easy on the free food unless you want to pile on the pounds. Overindulgence can be atoned for by on-board gym sessions, swimming or early morning jogs around the deck.

Featured images:License: Creative Commons image source
Amy Sawyer is a freelance travel writr and cruise enthusiast based in the UK. Follow her on Twitter for more of her posts.