Cruise report: It could be plain sailing if you make the right choice

 

To get the most out of any holiday, the first rule is to make sure it is the right one for you. When it comes to cruises, there is a bewildering choice of lines, ships and voyages on offer to the 1.8 million or so Britons expected to take a cruise next year.

The most thorough reference book for potential passengers is the annual Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships, which reviews nearly every ocean-going ship in the world. The 28th edition is out on 1 October, and its first ebook version launches this weekend, coinciding with the start of National Cruise Week. Its author, Douglas Ward, has sailed across the Atlantic 157 times, and spends about 200 days a year at sea. His mission: to examine every ship right down to the last detail. Here are Ward's top five tips for booking your dream cruise.

w Be wary of internet agents' prices. As with no-frills airlines' websites, all sorts of non-optional extras, such as port taxes, can appear at checkout.

w Book through a specialist cruise agent, in person or on the phone. They'll know the ships, and be able to answer any questions, as well as give perks such as on-board credit and cabin upgrades. There are plenty of excellent agents. For example, staff at both Mundy Cruising (020-7399 7670; mundycruising.co.uk), for luxury lines; and Bath Travel (01202 200740; bathtravel.co.uk), for big-ship cruising, can help you to choose your ship and cabin.

* Book early. The best cabins go quickly, and the longer you leave it, the less choice you have. If you are tied to certain times of the year, like school holidays, there could be no family cabins left. Get a price guarantee from lines such as Saga and (for departures from next April) P&O and Cunard, which offer on-board credit or cabin upgrades to the value of discounts introduced after booking.

* On the same budget, you'll have a better experience in the cheapest cabin on a five-star ship than in the owner's suite on a lower-grade one. Big resort ships spend about £8 per passenger per day on food, but upscale companies such as Silversea and Crystal splash out up to £20 pppd.

* The best ships for families are: Independence of the Seas (royalcaribbean.co.uk), with lots to keep teenagers occupied; Azura and Ventura (0843 374 0111; pocruises.co.uk), which have good nurseries; and MSC Opera (0844 561 1955; msccruises.co.uk), sailing from Southampton next summer. Under-18s sharing their parents' cabin go free (but must pay port charges of £105 each).

Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships 2013 by Douglas Ward (£17.99); insightguides.com/berlitz

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam