Booking a cruise might sound, on its face, like a relatively simple task. But there are dozens of small considerations to be taken into account before you can make a truly informed decision. From destinations to cruise to, to the length of your voyage, to the cruise ship booking platform itself, booking a cruise can quickly turn into a daunting endeavor if you’re a first-timer, or if you’re not familiar with the cruise industry. To make the process as pain-free as possible, we’ve compiled a list of tips for booking a cruise. We can’t do it all for you, but we can certainly help relieve some of the stress that comes from starting at square one, we even provided tips on how to plan your next cruise trip. Here’s how to approach your next cruise booking.
How to book a Cruise: where to even start?
When deciding to book a cruise, the actual booking platform might not even enter your calculations. But it should. Seasoned Sailors might choose to do it all themselves, picking the cruise line that best suits their personality, and the itinerary that suits their travel goals. Even veteran cruisers, however, can benefit from working with our Sailor Services team at Virgin Voyages with a free service that helps sailors book their next cruise. Sailor Services provides end-to-end support with every stage of the cruise booking process, from choosing dates, cruise cabins, flights, and an itinerary to your pre-departure preparations.
There’s nothing wrong with enlisting outside help, either. Travel agents can be a hugely valuable resource for booking a cruise, scoring you great rates and giving you even more firsthand tips based on their own personal experience. Travel agents can be particularly useful for first-time cruisers who don’t want to tackle the booking process all alone.
Pro tips for booking a cruise
If you polled everyone who’s ever booked and taken a cruise, you’d probably get thousands of helpful tips about things to know when booking. We can’t cover everything, but we can hit the highlights, and give you a solid foundation to work from. According to our team, these are the things you should absolutely keep in mind when booking your next cruise trip:
- Choose the right voyage length for you - If you’re a first-time cruiser, you probably don’t want to sign up for a 16-night odyssey. We offer 4- and 5-night itineraries perfect for first-timers just dipping their toes into the cruising waters.
- Choose the perfect homeport - Convenience is key, of course, but you should also choose a homeport you actually want to explore, but preferably, one that is nearest to you. After all you’ll likely be spending a night here before your voyage departs, and maybe even a night once you return. Think of your homeport as a brief extension to your cruise vacation.
- How do you like to eat? - Are you a buffet person? A foodie? A restaurant connoisseur? Every cruise ship eats differently. If you LIVE for midnight buffets, Virgin Voyages might not be for you, although we do have after hours eateries. If you value elevated eateries with menus curated by Michelin-starred chefs, where the food is both all-included and endless, you’ll love our unique restaurants.
- Plan flights and hotels to maximize your experience - Get creative with your trip itinerary. Plan to spend some time in your departure port before setting sail, as a little added bonus to your cruise vacation. Our Sailor Services team can help you book flights, as well as hotels for extra nights, to maximize your experience.
- Don’t overpack - This tip technically applies to all travel, but especially cruises. People always show up with massive suitcases containing half of their entire wardrobe, only to discover that you really only need a swimsuit, shorts, a few light-fabric shirts, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Our restaurants have no dress code, so you can wear whatever makes you feel most comfortable aboard our adults only cruise ships. Unless you’re joining us for a lengthy transatlantic voyage or repositioning cruise, chances are you don’t need that third suitcase. We also offer a laundry service onboard to help out even more.
- Consider your voyage goals - What kind of voyage are you looking for? A romantic couples getaway? A bachelorette party? A family trip with adults? Knowing what you’re looking for can not only help you choose the best cruise line, it can help you book the right shore excursions and onboard activities, too.
- Choose the right cabin - What kind of traveler are you? A couple that needs nothing except an intimate stateroom and balcony hammock? Or a high roller looking to live the luxe life? From our standard Sea Terrace rooms (complete with mood lighting) to our VIP-level Rockstar Quarters with a range of special perks, we’ve got you covered.
- Pay attention to shore excursions - shore excursions aren’t just a peripheral part of the voyage, they’re integral to the cruising experience. The voyage you choose should be based on which destinations you’ll be visiting, and which excursions pique your interest while you’re there.
- How much sea time do you want? - If your ideal cruise is more about exploring far-flung destinations, you’ll want to book a voyage that maximizes your time on land. If you’d rather have plenty of time to discover all the ship’s luxurious nooks and crannies, a voyage with more time at sea might be more suitable. Our transatlantic voyages, for example, run for over two weeks, with tons of time at sea.
- Check the reviews - It sounds obvious, but it’s important to take the experience of previous Sailors into account. After all, if they got food poisoning from the Mahi Mahi, or absolutely hated the onboard entertainment, you should know before booking. Luckily, both Sailors and travel publications seem to be in unanimous agreement: you won’t regret booking Virgin Voyages. Check out our cruise reviews to see what all the hype’s about.
The right way to book a cruise is ultimately your way
All our cruise booking tips aside, there’s really no right or wrong way to book a cruise: it’s whatever works best for you. Maybe that’s enlisting the help of a travel agent to book a 10-night bachelorette party voyage. Maybe it’s going it alone, researching Shore Things yourself, and pulling the trigger on a more intimate getaway for you and your partner. To be honest, we don’t really care how you make your booking decisions, as long as you end up on a memorable voyage that’s the perfect fit for you.
Finding the right cruise is easier (and more fun) than ever with our wide range of epic itineraries. Check out our booking page.