Critical Questions To Ask When Booking A Cruise From Now On


Critical Questions To Ask When Booking A Cruise From Now On

Critical Questions To Ask When Booking A Cruise From Now On

Have you booked, or are thinking of booking cruises for next year or beyond? You need to proceed carefully if you are. In this episode of Tips For Travellers, I want to give you X big questions you need to ask yourself, your travel agent or the cruise line before it is too late if you are.

Question One: Are you willing to cruise with whatever protocols and rules are required when you sail?

Are you assuming that cruising will turn back time, and be exactly as it was? Maybe you are pushing your bookings out to later in 2021, as you hope that the ports will be open. The deck parties will be going. All the dining options running. Being able to go self-exploring in ports. Swimming in the pools and lounging in the hot tubs and more. Are you assuming that cruising will be reset and be back to how it was?

If you are, then you should pause and ask yourself: am I prepared to cruise with whatever protocols are required by the health authorities, cruise lines and ports?

There is no guarantee that the cruising experience and protocols will return back to how it was pre-pandemic. We cannot know what form future cruises will take, not even the cruise lines can at this stage.

As cruising returns

As cruising returns there are changes such as reduced capacity per cruise, Covid-19 testing before boarding, wearing of masks or face coverings inside, daily temperature checks, limits on numbers around the pool and in facilities like shops. Controls on capacity in the fitness centre and what events can be held and how many can attend.

In 3 months, 6 months or 12 months’ time, the protocols are no doubt going to be different. Maybe stricter. Maybe relaxed. We do not know. Only book a cruise for the future if you are clear you will willingly accept whatever the rules are at the time you sail. You may, like me, be one of those that is willing to do this. But, like me, do it knowing you do not really know what it will be like.

The current cruise contracts and booking policies mean you have to accept the protocols and rules that are in place at the time that you cruise. You will not be able to use dislike of the protocols as a reason to cancel and get a refund.

booking a cruise

Question two: Are you set on visiting certain ports in your chosen itinerary?

If you are heading to the Caribbean, is calling on Grand Cayman important to making your cruise a success as you want to visit 7-Mile beach, you really want to go to Cozumel to swim with the stingrays. If on a Mediterranean cruise, is that call into Barcelona key to visit the Gaudi buildings.

We do not know which ports will open to cruises and what the requirements will be. At this stage cruises have all the classic and standard itineraries on sale, saying they will be calling on ports they have for years. But we do not know if that will be possible. It is, of course, highly likely that ports that used to have cruise trade will want them back for the economic boost. But when they will come back is uncertain. The further out you book; it does feel more likely that a way will have been found to have cruises back.

However, if there are ports you absolutely want to visit, and they are the reason for booking a certain cruise, it is worth holding back until you know those ports are confirmed open to cruises. However, if you are more flexible and it is the lure of cruising, and the general region that is important to you then, like me, you should be much more inclined to book. So, if going to the Caribbean is more important that the specific ports then you should look to book. That is what I am doing.

Question 3: What are my cancellation or change of booking options?

Although we all hope things will be back to something normal, they may remain volatile until, or even, when vaccines are generally available. When booking make sure you understand what your options are for cancelling or changing bookings, and when final balances have to be paid.

If they are not flexible, then (like me) look for offers with really low deposits and short final balances payment timings. For example, I have found some as low as $50 with final balances only paid 60 days before the cruise, which means that if I want to cancel or cannot cruise, I only stand to lose relatively small amounts of money.

Looking forward

Booking a cruise and having something to look forward is tempting for many travellers, me included. However, as things are and will remain in flux, ask these three questions before booking and you should, hopefully, make decisions that you will not regret but be happy with moving ahead. Now that’s settled it’s time to book a cruise!

Gary Bembridge’s Tips For Travellers aims to help you make more of your precious travel time and money on land and when cruising the oceans or rivers of the world. To help you, in every video I draw on my first-hand tips and advice from travelling every month for over 20 years and average of 10 cruises a year.

View more of my cruising tips.



Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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