Cruising can be a great way to cover a lot of territory in comfort. But choose wisely, as not all cruises are created equal. We’ve hand selected the best of what’s on the market, for French barge and canal cruising, the rivers of Europe, and small-ship seas cruises to Greece and beyond! Check our Ventures site for details. And the next time you book a cruise, ask these 6 questions.
1. What are the port charges? Beware that port charges are rarely included in the package price, so factor them into your trip costs.
2. What does the price include? Are excursions included? What extra costs might you incur? Many companies include all or most of your excursions. But others charge extra for activities. Be sure you understand the potential excess fees.
3. How will your arrival and departure work? Are transfers to and from the airport included? Does the company offer special land packages or hotel options for your time before or after you embark? You may want or need to add time in your arrival or departure city.
4. How big is the ship and what amenities does it have? We suggest looking for smaller boats and have curated a collection of more intimate, small boat cruises with excellent service in an intimate setting on our Ventures site. Ships like mega yachts can dock at inner ports that are inaccessible to the big ships. Ask about the staffing and service on board.
5. What paperwork is needed? Visas are required for travel to places like Cuba. And your passport must be valid for 3-6 month beyond your planned return date for most destinations.
6. What services are included? Look closely at things like meals, beverages, and Wi-Fi as policies and inclusions vary by product and destination. Be sure to budget for alcohol and tipping.
Bonus tip: Experts advise you to book your cruise through a tour operator for better service. Companies like Untours have special relationships with big vendors and cruise operators and can sometimes advocate for you in a pinch. Also, you can tap your agent or broker’s expertise, get more personalized attention, discover ground options that pair well with your cruise, and sometimes qualify for special perks. (Untours offers a free $100/cabin onboard credit.)
Asking a few smart questions can save you headaches and surprises. However you choose to cruise, have a bon voyage!