The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Cruising

Young couple clinking cocktail glasses while overlooking the ocean onboard a cruise ship

Don’t get us wrong, we love travel in all its forms. Whether it’s flying around Europe, road tripping along the coast or trekking mountains in Asia, we’re totally on board. But if you ask us, there’s something to be said for the pure bliss and simplicity of cruising.

Endless oceans, buffet dinners, cocktails, poolside relaxation, countless activities… it’s not hard to see why almost one in 17 Aussies took a cruise in 2018.

However, you’d be forgiven for being intimidated (or perhaps even a little scared) of these mammoth ships and what they offer. So, to make your first cruising experience an unforgettable one - for all the right reasons, of course - we’ve developed the ultimate beginners’ guide.

Go forth and cruise!

Why Cruising?

1. It’s Easy

Forget booking flights, airport transfers, accommodation, meals and activities - everything’s taken care of with the one ticket. Say goodbye to lugging your baggage from hotel to hotel!

2. It’s Fun

How many times have you found yourself in another city, Googling ‘fun things to do in [city]’? Cruise ships are packed with things to do, whether it’s lazing by the pool, catching a show, dancing… some liners even have their own water parks and go-karting tracks!

3. You’ll See Places Only Accessible by Boat

Some of the world’s most isolated and beautiful places can only be reached by sea, like Juneau and other parts of Alaska, New Zealand’s Dusky Sound and more.

Glacier Bay in Alaska from a cruise ship

4. It’s Good Value

When you add up flights, accommodation, activities, meals and drinks, holiday budgets can quickly get blown out of the water. With a cruise, everything is included in the one price. Opting for interior cabins and off-peak dates can make it even better value.

5. You’ll Meet New People

Even the most introverted travellers come back to shore with a new mate or two - it’s just the nature of cruising! In most cases, you’ll be dining in groups, so you’ll get to know people from all over the world and all walks of life.

Types of Cruises

1. Ocean Cruise

The most popular type of cruise around the world is a good old-fashioned ocean cruise. They’ll take you island-hopping through the South Pacific, sailing around the Caribbean and floating across the Mediterranean. Due to their popularity, ocean cruises also tend to rock the biggest ships.

2. River Cruise

River cruises have boomed in popularity in recent years thanks to their smaller, more intimate vibe. There’s usually less to do and fewer dining options on board, but the access to beautiful cities and quaint towns on narrower waterways more than makes up for it.

A cruise ship docked at the German town of Cochem on the Rhine

3. Luxury Cruise

Got cash to splash? A luxury cruise is for you. Think five-star cuisine, spectacular suites, non-stop pampering and ultra-personalised service. Like river cruises, luxury cruises are smaller and thus able to reach smaller ports not yet overrun by tourists. One day…

4. Adventure Cruise

Not interested in visiting busy ports with a floating hotel’s worth of other travellers? An adventure cruise might be just what you need. These cruises are all about the destination - we’re talking Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands and Iceland.

Best Cruise Destinations

1. Canada and Alaska

Want to get up-close and personal with bears, moose and otters and soak up some of the world’s most spectacular scenery? A Canada and Alaska cruise is the best way to do it. From the Inside Passage to Glacier Bay National Park, pictures simply don’t do this beautiful part of the world justice.

2. Europe

If you ask us, the best way to see Europe is from the rivers of France, Germany, Austria and Hungary. After all, wouldn’t you rather enjoy good views 24/7 than driving on freeways between countries? And don’t even get us started on the Mediterranean!

3. Vietnam and Cambodia

Southeast Asia is becoming one of the hottest destinations in cruising, particularly Vietnam and Cambodia. Travelling along the Mekong River will take you to some of the region’s most iconic cities and attractions, like Phnom Penh, Ha Long Bay, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An.

Cruise ships in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

4. South Pacific

It’s been one of the world’s most beloved cruising destinations for decades, and the South Pacific is still a popular choice today. From the idyllic islands of Tahiti, Fiji and Vanuatu to hidden gems in Papua New Guinea and beyond, you’ll never want to leave!

5. Australia

If you’re not keen on going far afield, you’re in luck, because Australia is home to some of the best domestic cruising experiences out there! Whether you want to take in the splendour of the east coast or soak up the beauty of Tasmania, there’s plenty of options for first-time cruisers.

Our Top Cruising Tips

1. Go Bargain Hunting

Cruises are a great value way to travel, but you can save even more by simply doing some research. Planning far in advance can get you some great early bird deals, as can checking Cudo - we’ve got new cruise deals all the time!

2. Forget the Drinks Package

Unless you’re a big drinker (and we mean a really big drinker), drinks packages really aren’t worth the money - especially since many ships will let you bring alcohol on board, albeit a small amount.

3. Pace Yourself

Unless you’re only doing a short cruise (i.e. three days), you’ve got plenty of time to check out all the ship’s activities and facilities. So take a breath, relax, and take it slow!

The pool area on board a large cruise ship

4. Be Fashionably Late

Speaking of taking it slow, the same applies to embarking and disembarking. By waiting a little bit longer, you’ll avoid the crowds and long lines at the port.

5. Don’t Be a Deck Chair Hog

This is one of the biggest pet peeves in the cruising world, and the cause of many a poolside fight. Be mindful of other passengers and don’t take up chairs with belongings while you’re off eating brekkie.

6. Disconnect

The Wi-Fi you can purchase on board is usually spotty at best and a total waste of money at worst, so skip it all together and enjoy a little digital detox. If you get desperate, you can probably find free Wi-Fi in port.

7. Bring a Power Board

For real, this will be a life-saver. Power sockets are scarce inside ship cabins, so bringing a power board can quadruple your charging power.

8. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Don’t worry, the chances of your cruise being derailed by an iceberg are (thankfully) slim. That said, travel insurance is still a must for protection in the event of a medical emergency, lost luggage or cancellation.

Now that you’re armed with cruising knowledge, it’s time to book your seafaring adventure and save up to 70% on your cruise with Cudo!

8 Things You Have to Do in Phuket

Click to read more