My recommendation on the 10 best sources of cruise tips and advice
There are 10 sources I recommend to stay informed, getting advice and keep up to date with the latest news in cruising when planning a cruise:
1) Cruise review, forum and community sites.
Cruise travelers are active online, posting reviews, asking and answering questions and sharing learning about all aspects of cruising, cruise lines and ships. Cruise Community Sites are invaluable for getting the latest advice and tips based on recent first hand experiences. They are friendly venues where you will get fast responses to anything you ask.
CruiseCritic.com is the largest and has articles, reviews and forums organised by cruise line, ship and interest group. The Roll Call by sailing enables you to discuss your cruise with others on the same cruise, and you can sign up to be invited to attend a free on-board Cruise Critic meet-up on many cruise lines.
Others include: http://www.cruisemates.com, http://www.cruisingmates.co.uk, http://www.cruiselinefans.com , http://www.cruisehive.com , http://www.cruisecrazies.com , http://www.cruiseline.com and http://www.cruiseminded.com
2) Cruise podcasts.
Audio podcasts are similar to radio shows that you can download onto your SmartPhone, MP3 media player or listen to online. The podcasts I listen to and recommend are:
- CruiseRadio.net . A weekly show by experienced cruisers Doug Parker and Matt Basford based in Florida. They include the latest news, interviews with industry insiders and ship reviews from recently returned passengers.
- Cruizecast.com . This show is run by Kayleigh and James Lay. Kayleigh is a vacation planner and they are regular cruisers. This show focuses on cruising and ports of call.
3) Cruise magazines.
There are many cruise dedicated magazines, usually targeted to cruisers from a specific country.
⁃ Porthole Magazine is the major magazine. USA based, it also offers international subscriptions.
⁃ World of Cruising is the major UK based magazine
Cruise Magazines also have email newsletters featuring the main stories and links to articles online, so sign-up with the magazines that interest you even if not in your home market.
4) Smartphone Apps.
There are a number of apps for both IOS and Android Smartphones. They include apps to find the latest cruise deals (e.g. Cruise Alert), controlling your spending on-board (e.g. Cruise Card Control), ship deck plans (e.g. Deck Director) and those for inputting your cruise to see who else is going, deck plans, port guides and tips and advice by ship (e.g. Ship Mate).
I use “Ship Mate” most often. It is free to download, and also has a cruise countdown clock, ship cams and the opportunity to upload and search photographs. The content works when you are off-line and so it becomes a useful guide once on-board.
5) Cruise travel fairs.
These are run either as stand alone events or within more comprehensive travel shows, and often showcase new ships, routes and special offers.
6) Cruise Books
The main cruise book is the “Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships” by Douglas Ward. It is the “bible” of cruise ships, and been published for 30 years. It contains specifications, statistics and a review of every cruise ship. It is updated annually, and provides a useful resource for doing detailed comparisons of ships you may be considering. I travel with it as it also satisfies the “geek” in me to understand the ships I come across in port.
7) Doing ship tours, in person and via video sites.
Cruise lines offer ship tours on turnaround days in port. Speak to your cruise agent, or cruise line, to be invited to tour a ship when in a port near to you.
A less time intensive way is to watch ship and cabin video tours on YouTube. I recommend watching passenger generated tours over the official cruise line videos to get an honest view without a marketing spin.
8) Cruise Blogs.
There are a number of blogs run by the cruise lines and senior crew on-board, and by fans.
9) Your Cruise Agent.
They will be a key source of information on latest deals, news and launches. I recommend : http://www.gocruisewithjane.co.uk