Planning your first cruise? Then you want to know these tips!
Going on a cruise has been on my bucket list for ages. Why? Because I thought it would be so cool to see as much as possible in a short amount of time, and love the idea to not carry your suitcases everywhere and the days on the sea could serve as a threat for me to actually do absolutely nothing for a change, and surrender myself to the feeling of holiday. And this month was finally the time! My VERY first cruise is a fact. VakantieXperts invited me with their Zeetours on the AIDAprima for a cruise from Rotterdam to Hamburg, Southampton, Le Havre and Zeebrugge.
What it was like? I’ll tell you all about it in the new travel vlog, because I’ve been vlogging the entire week of my adventure on board of this gigantic cruise ship! The video can be seen underneath. Curious as to what this – for me – new experience of travelling has taught me? Further on in this blog I’ll share my 10 cruise tips that can come in handy if you’re about to go on a cruise for the first time just like me or are planning to book a cruise holiday!
10 Tips you’ll want to know before going on a cruise vacation
- A careless holiday: Cruises are actually just as careless as an all inclusive vacation, but the difference is you get to see a lot during this trip instead of mainly spending time in your hotel. Another big advantage for me is that you don’t have to carry your suitcases everywhere, as normally is the case when you’re on a round trip. You don’t have to worry about having cash on you or creditcards during a cruise. You pay things that aren’t included in the price with the same pass that also gives you access to your cabin and you pay your total amount at the end of the week at once.
- Who is going on a cruise? The guests on board of a cruise depends on the season. I personally think a cruise is something you’re doing with the two of you or perhaps with the entire family. A cruise is not that appropriate for solo travellers. There’s so much to do on board that it’s simply a lot more fun if you can share it with someone. Furthermore, cruises are definitely popular among the elderly (I would be lying if I wouldn’t appoint this), but what I liked to see is that cruises are very suitable for multi-generation travel: families with parents, children and grandchildren. Additionally you see lots of couples who are on holiday with friends and couples who are in their thirties with babies or young kids. Good to know: On the AIDAprima there are especially lots of facilities for young families.
- Choose your course: You probably already kind of have an idea about where you’d like to go to when you want to do a cruise. Perhaps the Mediterranean Sea, a cruise along several cities in Europe like I did or maybe you’d rather go to a tropical destination in the Caribbean. Compare the different routes with each other from different shipping companies to find the trip that meets your demands best. Make sure to look out for the amount of destinations you’ll be visiting and how long you’re staying in the harbour there to go out on a daytour.
- Check out the ship: Something else that’s very important when you’re choosing the cruise that suits you best, is the ship itself. At least as important as the course I would say! As you’re going to spend a lot of time there and it will be your hotel at sea during your vacation. For example, check out the year the ship was built, how big is it, what the cabins are like and what’s included in the price.
- Pick a shipping company: There are so many different shipping companies and cruise ships you can choose from. Via VakantieXperts you can check out the entire selection by Zeetours, which is one of the largest providers when it comes to cruise holidays. The land of origin of the cruise ship and the harbour where it departs from has a great influence on the nationality of the guests. For example, AIDA is a German company and because of that there are a lot of Germans on board and the spoken language on board is German. If you book a cruise at an American, Norwegian of Italian shipping company chances are there will be lots of guests originating from those countries.
- Book the right cabin: I mentioned it a bit earlier, but there are lots of different cabins and suits that you can choose from. From simple rooms to large suites met a sitting area and a balcony with a sea view. Of course the difference is not only in the size of the room, but also in the price. So make sure to consider what you find important during your cruise. Perhaps if you’re someone who’s into the entertainment on board and you’re at the bar or in the nightclub every evening till the early morning, a simple cabin is probably enough for you. Personally I find it really relaxing to watch my favourite series back in my cabin after dinner or have a drink with the two of us on the balcony, that’s my way of relaxing during a trip. So that’s why I personally would always choose for a cabin with a sitting area and a balcony.
- Check out the daily schedule: A cruise ship is enormous! For instance, the AIDAprima had 16 floors and dozens of restaurants and bars to have something to eat and to drink. Every day the daily schedule is delivered to your cabin to inform you what exactly there is to do on that day. Can come in handy for the days you’re out at sea! Because in the daily schedules you can also find special offers, like a discount on the spa, entertainment or a special theme in a restaurant. In the daily schedule you’ll also be informed on what exactly is inclusive and for what a (small) co-payment is necessary.
- This is how the board portal works: The board portal will be your best friends during your cruise. It’s an online surrounding with all the information about the ship and what there is to do. You can reserve everything you’d want to do during your cruise here. From booking excursions for the destinations visited during your cruises, to the making of reservations for the á la carte restaurants. I can recommend you to make these reservations for the á la carte restaurants as soon as possible (some restaurants can be booked for breakfast as well), because once it’s full they can’t welcome you and if you’re on the AIDAprima you’ll definitely don’t want to miss a dinner in the Rossini restaurant, the Steak House and the sushi bar!
- Internet on board: I always thought that when you went on a cruise you’d be completely offline, but no worries for the internet addicts among us. Because there is WiFi present on most cruise ships! Sometimes it’s free and sometimes for a fee depening on the type of user you are. You wouldn’t want to upload a video on YouTube, but for everyday things like checking the mail of posting on social media you can definitely buy an internet package for a couple of Euros per day on the AIDAprima.
- Explore the ship: And one more last tip. I can recommend you to, after you’ve checked into your cabin, take the elevator to the top deck of the ship and continue to walk around on every floor of the ship with your map in hand (trust me, you’re going to need it the first couple of days!) as a way to get familiar with which facilities, bars and restaurants are on which floor.
onto my next cruise…
I hope my personal tips are going to be useful to you if you’re planning on taking a cruise for the first time! Honestly, it already starts to itch to take my lover on a luxurious cruise to a tropical destination once. You can check out the selection of all the shipping companies in one via VX.nl, but for personal advice you can of course also stop by one of the 230 VakantieXperts travelling agencies across the entire Netherlands. Besides cruise vacations they also offer lots of other (sunny) holidays! I personally have a feeling you’ll be reading more about cruise holiday on Your Little Black Book in the future!
THINGS TO DO:
⋙ Canal Cruise by day or in the evening
⋙ A bike tour through Amsterdam OR Rent a bike by yourself
⋙ The best view over Amsterdam from the A’DAM Lookout
⋙ Visit Artis Royal Zoo
⋙ Rijksmuseum with the Dutch masters
⋙ Van Gogh Museum, a staple in Amsterdam
⋙ Stedelijk Museum for modern art lovers
⋙ MOCO Museum for street art
⋙ Photography museum FOAM
⋙ Amsterdam Light Festival (during winter months)
⋙ Cruise like a local with your own boat (great with good weather!)
ONE OF A KIND:
⋙ Discover the Instagrammable experience WONDR
⋙ Red Light District tour
⋙ Get out of town and into the Dutch country side of Giethoorn
| TIP: Buy an I amsterdam City Card. Save money on entrance fees to museums and attractions, public transport and profit from discounts on everything from restaurants to concerts. You can also skip some lines to make the most of your time in Amsterdam! You can buy a card for 24 hours up to 120 hours. Check the prices here >>
Our favourite hotels:
AFFORDABLE // €
☾ Generator Hostel: the best poshtel of the city located in a park.
☾ The Student Hotel: budget proof in trendy East.
☾ Het Volkshotel: affordable and with a cool rooftop bar.
☾ CitizenM: all you need is that XL bed (location near Amstel is great).
☾ Motel One: budget design hotel with locations at
VERY VERY NICE // €€
☾ Hotel V: with two locations and a great restaurant, in the city center and East.
☾ Sir Adam: with the coolest view over Amsterdam.
☾ Sweets: a unique stay in former bridge houses.
☾ Park Plaza Vondelpark: located next to Vondelpark and beautifully renovated.
☾ Hotel Dwars: small scale around the corner of the trendy Utrechtsestraat.
☾ Pillows Anna van den Vondel: great hotel close to Vondelpark.
☾ Hotel Mercier: new hotel in the cosy and historic Jordaan district.
☾ INK Hotel: lifestyle hotel in the heart of the city.
☾ The Hoxton: favourite lifestyle hotel right on the canals.
☾ Morgan & Mees: boutique hotel in Amsterdam West.
☾ Conscious Hotel Westerpark: in a beautiful building at the industrial Westergas area.
☾ QO Amsterdam: eco design hotel with a great skybar.
TOP LUXURY // €€€
☾ Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam: if you have something to celebrate this is the one.
☾ Pulitzer Amsterdam: on the canals at the border of the Nine Streets and the Jordaan.
☾ L’Europe: this hotel has the best spa with a view in Amsterdam.
☾ Conservatorium Hotel: located in one of the most beautiful buildings in town.
☾ W Amsterdam: with great restaurants and a rooftop bar with swimming pool.
Let’s get social
I really hope you enjoy your time in Amsterdam! On my Instagram account @yourlbb you can find more recommendations and new hotspots in town.
Follow @yourlbb on Instagram
In collaboration with VakantieXperts
Anne de Buck
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