Congratulations! You’ve decided on your dream cruise destination and are ready to book! Follow our 12 top tips when making a cruise booking to ensure you avoid common mistakes.
1. Cruise information
Have all your cruise information to hand when booking a cruise booking. This may seem obvious, but we have seen customers who book the wrong sail date and it is very time consuming to make corrections after you have made your booking. And corrections can even cost you money.
Be sure to have the following information in front of you when booking a cruise:
- Name of the ship
- Departure date
- Number of nights
- Stateroom (cabin) category you have chosen and the number of cabins in each category
- Full name and date of birth of each guest according to the passport information
It is easy to book directly on the cruise line’s website and pay the deposit with a credit card. You will receive an email within minutes when you booking is confirmed.
2. Read the FAQ and Terms and Conditions pages
Read the Frequently Asked Questions section on the cruise line’s website before booking your cruise. You will find the answer to many common questions there. Alternatively contact us and we will be happy to help you!
The Terms and Conditions pages are super important. Don’t be tempted to skip this step. Understand the booking terms and cancellation policy. It is daunting when presented with so much small print to read. But it is important that you know what you are buying. When making a cruise booking, you are agreeing to enter into a contract with the cruise line.
3. Check and double-check your insurance coverage
When you read the title of the article you may not have expected travel insurance to make it on to the list for “Top tips for booking a cruise”.
But travel insurance is vital and you should never leave home without it.
You need to find out the answers to the following questions:
- How much will travel insurance cost for the type of trip you are doing and the length of time you are away?
- What exactly does it cover?
- Do you have cancellation insurance? Remember you cannot book cancellation insurance with the cruise line after you have booked, only when you make the booking. What does it cover?
- What will it cost you if you are forced to cancel your trip if you
- are denied entry into your destination ?
- do not want to travel due to health worries or concerns?
- need to cut your trip short?
Perhaps your home insurance or your credit card that you are paying with includes travel insurance and cancellation insurance? Ring your provider and remember to check! If you already have travel insurance you need to check exactly what is included in your policy.
4. Check visa requirements including for all ports of call
Check out the visa requirements of the countries you are visiting. If in doubt ask the cruise line or contact the embassy of the country you are visiting to be sure that you have all the necessary documents you need before you travel. Sometime the cruise lines will organize a visa on board the cruise ship when visiting certain ports if you book the cruise lines’ own excursion.
5. Passport information for booking a cruise
Have passports to hand when making a cruise booking. Full and correctly spelt names must appear on your booking. You would be surprised at how many customers forget they have a middle name or forget how it is spelt in their passport! Book the name in the order it appears in the passport that you will be travelling with. Some cruise lines will charge you if you have to correct a misspelt name later on.
6. Be sure your passport is valid
You must travel with a valid passport. Check that your passport hasn’t expired. Some countries require that you passport is valid for at least 6 months after the date you arrive home again. Always double check with the passport information of embassy of the country you are visiting. Check the validity date in your passport and renew it before you travel if it is due to expire.
7. Decide on a payment method before you book your cruise
How are you going to pay? Read the terms and conditions offered by your credit card. Find out if you get benefits using your credit card such as free cancellation insurance or travel insurance. Read the small print or call your credit card company before deciding on your payment method.
8. Look into cruise line loyalty programs before you book
Have you cruised before? If you have a membership number be sure to provide it when making a cruise booking (or ask your cruise company to add your membership number). Often you can get some free perks on board as a returning customer.
If you have cruised before but are choosing to book with a different cruise line this time, ask your new cruise line for the same membership level you had previously so you don’t miss out on the extra perks.
9. What happens if the price of your cruise drops after you have made a booking?
Yes, it can happen. Cruise prices can change. After you have made your booking, set up a price tracker using either Cruisewatch or Cruisetracker. You enter the details of your cruise and get information by email on prices for that particular sailing. You can then compare these prices.
We also strongly recommend around once a month up until you make your final payment, you check the price of your cruise on the cruise line’s website. The best way to do this is to set up a dummy booking for exactly the same cruise. Look at the price.
If you see the price of your cruise has dropped, ring the cruise line immediately. Often they will refund the different to you, give you on board credit or give you an upgrade.
MOST cruise lines do this, but not all. Check when booking your cruise by asking the question “What happens if the price of my cruise goes down between now and the time the cruise starts?”.
But it is essential you call the cruise line before you make your final payment if you find a price drop. Often once you have paid in full or started your cruise, no refunds or credits will be possible.
10. Special needs and requirements when booking a cruise
Do you have special requirements? Remember to inform the cruise line about special dietary requirements, physical disabilities or pregnancy.
And no, you are not being difficult. The cruise personell and cabin crew work really hard to give you an unforgettable experience. You have to give them the chance to be there for you.
11. Are you celebrating a special occasion?
Let the cruise line know when making a cruise booking! Often the cruise line offers special packaging and gifts if you are celebrating.
And again, do tell them. Give the cruise personel and cabin crew the opportunity to dazzle you!
12. Ask the cruise line about flight, hotel and transfer packages
Ask the cruise line about flight, hotel and transfer packages they can offer to tie in with your cruise booking. Fly-cruise packages are the best for those of us who do not want to book our own flights, hotels and taxis! Find our more about what you can do in your departure city for a pre-cruise adventure on our destination pages. Right now we have fantastic detailed itineraries for many cruises from cities including Rome, Barcelona, London, Venice, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Southampton!
13. Sign up to your cruise departure date Facebook group, Meet and Mingle groups or Roll Call groups
Not only is it great fun to get to know your fellow passengers before you start your cruise, you may also pick up some great cruise tips.
Explore Facebook and see if there is a group specifically for your sailing, then request to join the group so you can chat to cruise guests who are going to be on board your ship. Then we recommend you join the Meet and Mingle groups and Roll Call groups for your specific cruise. You do this through go onto Cruise Critic’s message boards.
Booking a cruise is fun – and good planning will ensure you avoid mistakes
Seems like a lot to think? It is. But you are booking a holiday that requires careful and thoughtful planning as it is costing you your hard-earned money and you must know what you are paying for. It’s not difficult, it just takes some time – but planning and booking is all part of the fun. Follow our top tips when making a cruise booking for a trouble-free start to your holiday!
And what a dream vacation you will have to look forward to – now go brag to your friends!