You’ve decided it’s time to book a cruise holiday... all that’s holding you back is the overwhelming task of finding the right itinerary, cruise line and cruise ship, then planning your time away and then actually making the booking.

If you don’t know where to start, or you’re just too busy and want to outsource the planning of your holiday, this guide is for you. We’ll help you decide where to go and share some insider tips from our cruise specialists.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be prepared to make your cruise holiday a reality.

Find a cruise line which best suits your cruise personality

Finding the cruise line or style of cruise ship that aligns with your style of travel can be the start of a lasting travel relationship. You’ll want to review the size of the ships in the fleet, the service level, the onboard atmosphere, the selection of restaurants, the decor and even the mix of fellow passengers.

We breakdown your three main decisions below.

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Luxury & Premium vs. Contemporary

1. Luxury & Premium vs. Contemporary

Everyone’s idea of ‘luxury’ is different and unfortunately, it’s one of the most overused words in the travel industry, so it’s important to do your research. ‘Contemporary’ cruises tend...

to appeal to a broader range of travellers. In many ways, this is similar to choosing a hotel chain. If you stay in 4-star and above accommodation when on land, then you are likely to enjoy the same at sea. Cruise lines like Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea and Oceania are likely to appeal.

In the contemporary space, we often see larger ships that are more focussed on the on-board entertainment. These tend to be the cruise lines that make headlines with passenger numbers equivalent to many New Zealand towns, and that often cannot berth in Auckland harbour.  Think more of a busy resort with waterslides, rock climbing walls and endless restaurants and bars.

Small, Medium or Large Ship

2. Take a Small, Medium or Large Ship

The decision between small, medium and large ships usually goes hand-in-hand with your preference between Luxury & Premium or Contemporary. Luxury and Premium cruise lines tend...

to operate small to medium ships (with some notable exceptions such as Cunard's fleet) and Contemporary cruise lines tend to have larger ships (such as Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises) focussed on a plethora of onboard entertainment options.

Small and medium ships are still significant vessels (think boutique hotel vs expansive resort) and generally offer itineraries that are more port focussed. Guests can spend time off the ship on shore excursions, exploring cities, towns and villages and soaking in the local culture (rather than perfecting the flying fox).

Larger ships will often have more sea days where time can be spent enjoying the entertainment onboard the ship. Guests can still spend time off the ship on shore excursions, however, the big draws include the many activities (everything from zip-lines to shuffleboard), dining experience, and live theatre and music.

3. All-inclusive or Pay-As-You-Go

3. All-inclusive or Pay-As-You-Go

Once you’re onboard your cruise there can be little avoiding the fact that you are a captive audience. Recognising that this can cause friction, some luxury and premium cruise lines...

 endeavour to help guests relax into their holiday by pricing on an “all inclusive” basis.

All inclusive will mean different things between different cruise lines. For some, it includes everything, like tips and shore excursions. For others, shore excursions and tips may be an additional charge.

A final piece of advice is that sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised to find that a Luxury or Premium cruise line's itinerary will be more affordable than an equivalent  Contemporary cruise line's itinerary once the additional onboard costs are factored in.

Planning an Antarctica Cruise

Antarctica Cruises are an area of travel where experience and expertise are really important. It is a significant investment of time and money and therefore it is important to consider:

* The time of year to travel.
* The style of cruise that best suits you (more traditional expedition or “soft expedition”).
* Not all cruises go below the Antarctic Circle (so it’s important to choose the right itinerary).
* Smaller ships, carrying fewer guests, are more likely to spend more time in zodiacs and onshore.
* Pre-existing medical conditions (and how that may affect your ability to travel and your travel insurance).

At Fine Travel we work closely with the specialist cruise lines and local representatives to provide our clients with an Antarctica cruise itinerary to best meet their needs.

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About South Pacific and New Zealand Cruise Holidays

South Pacific cruises are extremely popular with increasing numbers of ships domiciled in or visiting our part of the world each year.

At some time in our lives we’d all love to leave our footprints on a white sand beach in Fiji, Noumea, Vanuatu, or Tahiti, or explore the contrast of the Australian Coast; or snorkel the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef or enjoy the magnificent scenery of our very own New Zealand.

A cruise from Australia to New Zealand and/or the South Pacific, can fulfill almost every exotic adventure that a serious traveller could dream of. The beauty of many of these itineraries is that you can see as much of the South Pacific as you like in one cruise. An Australia/South Pacific Cruise can take you to many ports, depending upon your ship and sailing date. Some of the Australian and South Pacific cruises are now part of world cruise itineraries and can include fly/cruise options.

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European River Cruises

Europe has so many navigable rivers that offer wonderful river cruise experiences that travellers are spoilt for choice.

The Danube is the key to river cruising in Europe as the great river crosses from Germany through Serbia, Austria and Hungary into Romania before emptying into the Black Sea. It offers the greatest range of river cruise itineraries.

The Volga river in Russia allows you to discover the stunning architecture and unique cultural heritage of Russia’s most interesting cities. Moscow and St. Petersburg, can be visited on a cruise that combines the Volga River, the Moscow Canal and other waterways.

... and many many more!

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Mediterranean Cruise Holidays

For New Zealand travellers heading to the UK / Europe, a Mediterranean Cruise is one of the most popular inclusions in their itineraries. Each destination is a journey in and of itself. From small luxury cruise lines through to the impressive mega cruise ships, the number of cruise lines offer a variety of cruises. Select from the Greek Islands, Ancient Turkey, the Holy Lands or cruise the Western section and include Spain, France and Italy.

An extended Mediterranean cruise is simply a cruise vacation that combines ports from both the Western Mediterranean and the Eastern Mediterranean, typically beginning in Barcelona and ending in Greece or Turkey or of course in reverse.

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Asia Cruises

Asia is a land of contrasts – the largest continent, the tallest mountains, the longest coastline and three-fifths the world’s population.

A cruise is a wonderful way to see the region which extends from Burma and Thailand in the west through Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore through to Vietnam and Cambodia, China and Japan. With this range of countries and cultures there is something for everyone to enjoy and learn from. Ancient temples, great statues, bustling cities, forests and wildlife are just some of the experiences to be enjoyed.

Cruise Types
There are now cruise ships based in the region, predominantly in Singapore, that offer year round cruises. The Singapore cruises sail the Straights of Malacca up to Thailand or across the South China Sea to Vietnam and China. River cruises are increasingly popular too.

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Scandinavia & Baltic Cruises

The Baltic Sea allows travelers to visit a range of Scandinavian and Baltic countries.

From the fairytale castles of Copenhagen to the gilded palaces of St. Petersburg, Scandinavia and Baltic Russia cruise ports reflect over two millennia of history. The memories of Teutonic knights and Hanseatic merchant kings and czars come alive through a montage of architectural and cultural achievements. Baltic cruises really do encompass a huge variety of cultures and history.

While many cruises just operate within the Baltic some also include a visit to the Norwegian Fjords.

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South America Cruises

South America offers travellers a range of cruise destinations. From the glitter of Rio and Buenos Aires to the penguins and whales of the Straits of Magellan, to the Amazon, to the intriguing colonial history and South America is a destination of opposites, and one of the most exciting destinations in the world. With Air New Zealand’s direct flights from Auckland to Buenos Aires, a South American Cruise is more appealing than ever.

Cruise Seasons
Major cruise lines visit this continent between September and March. For cruises that sail round Cape Horn this is the southern summer and in general cruise ships that do South American itineraries return to Europe or Alaska for the northern summer cruise season. Specialty cruises operate year round.

Main Ports
Cruises to the Amazon and the north of the continent depart from Ft Lauderdale, San Juan, Bridgetown, Rio or Buenos Aires. Additionally the longer cruises can start from as far away as Southampton or Los Angeles. Cruises around Cape Horn and on the east coast start from Valparaiso, Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro.

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