How to make the most of your exploration cruise
Once you’ve booked your once-in-a-lifetime expedition cruise, you’ve usually got a bit of time between booking and departing. In order to get the most out of your cruise, it’s a good idea to do some research and preparation to ensure you get the most out of your cruise.
We’ve got 12 tips to help you do just that:
• Research your ports of call – Obviously when you book your cruise, the first thing you look at are the ports of call. Doing your research on each port pays dividends. You’ll know what you want to see and you’ll know what is unique about that port before you get there (that makes for a lot of “Ah-ha!” moments when you see something you’ve read about!). You’ll also be able to make sure you book an excursion that visits those places of interest.
• Book excursions before you go – If your excursions aren’t included in your fare, cruise lines often open up excursion bookings prior to departure. We recommend getting these in place as early as possible as they do book out and you may end up missing out on seeing something you particularly wanted to see.
• Book specialty restaurants – The same applies to specialty restaurants. Cruise lines will often open bookings up for specialty restaurants prior to departure so if you have a special event, or want to dine at a special restaurant, book as early as you can.
• Be prepared – Research what type of clothing is required, or if anything is included (eg. A parka and boots with Antarctic cruises). Also be prepared with extra batteries/USBs /storage devices for photos as well as things like drink bottles, medications, good walking shoes etc.
• Research the wildlife – Small ship expedition cruises have onboard experts available to give you an insight into the various species and behaviour you’re likely to see, but if you’ve figured out how to tell chinstrap penguins from adelies or macaronis, you’ll be that much better prepared when you come face to face with them. Likewise, if you’re heading to the Galapagos, finding out why the unique marine iguana has salt all over its head and why this iguana is completely different to any other iguana will greatly enhance your experience.
• Attend the seminars – The talks and seminars on an expedition cruise are invaluable. The ships have onboard experts who live and breathe this stuff and they’ve got a ton of knowledge to share. This is where you’ll find out about what kind of flora and fauna you’re likely to see, which species are endangered, what behaviours you might see and loads more.
• Notes/storing photos – Don’t rely on the cloud or internet as in some of the places you visit, there simply won’t be connection. It’s important to have some way of downloading your photos as you go, so if you lose your camera you don’t lose all your photos.
• Fitness – If your voyage involves a lot of walking, climbing or adventurous activities, be sure to prepare beforehand. Walking with heavy backpacks or cycling with the gear you will be carrying will ensure you’re in good shape to take on the adventures.
• Book spa treatments in advance – Some cruise lines will allow you to book your spa treatments before departing. If you’re on a cruise with just a couple of sea days, it’s a good idea to book these in as soon as possible so you don’t miss out.
• Check the inclusions/options for beverages – Some small expedition ships are all-inclusive which means your wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks are all included. Others will include some drinks with meals and others don’t include any. Check out what’s included in your chosen voyage and if beverages are additional, have a look at the pre-purchasable drinks packages (if available) and see if they will work for you.
• Choose your cabin carefully –Some ships have balconies for every cabin, others don’t. Some have full picture windows, others will have a porthole. If you’re going to a bucket-list destination, check the upgrade cost as it may not be a lot more. If you’re in your cabin while cruising Antarctica and whales start surfacing nearby and you’re peering through a porthole, you might wish you’d paid a little more so you could step outside!
• Book in advance – Most small ship cruise lines bring out their best deals first. Because they are not like the larger liners with stacks of cabins to sell, the small ships often sell out early. Cruise lines like Ponant and Silversea bring out their best specials first and they get progressively more expensive as they fill up and the closer they get to departure. The dollars you save by booking early may just allow you to add on an additional land stopover before of after your cruise!
At Ultimate Cruising we specialise in small ship cruises. We’ve done extensive training on the various cruise lines and destinations and we package them up with airfares, transfers and pre/post accommodation to make sure you have the experience of a lifetime. Our team have been onboard so feel free to take advantage of their experiences and advice when choosing the right cruise for you. You can request a call to have a chat with one of the team, or you can check out some featured packages here.