Meet our new cruise columnist, Tiana Templeman.
Too much cruising is never enough for me. I've spent more than 20 years cruising around Australia and beyond with my family, with friends and as a solo traveller. I've also worked as a cruise ship destination lecturer in Australia and New Zealand and met some wonderful fellow travellers along the way.
However, my first cruise was a disaster.
Seduced by a deal that seemed too good to be true (spoiler alert: it was), my husband and I boarded one of the infamous sexy-single-and-ready-to-mingle party ships which were the only option for local cruisers in the early 90s. We figured that if other travellers our age enjoyed cruising, we would too.
Big mistake. For a couple of naive newlyweds dreaming of romantic evenings strolling the deck, intimate dinners for two and the blissful serenity of the South Pacific, it would have been hard to pick a worse cruise. I guess it goes to show that I've never been someone who does things by halves.
In hindsight, it wasn't the fault of the cruise line or the ship that we had such a terrible holiday. Most of the other travellers onboard were having a ball. We simply chose the wrong cruise for us.
If there is one thing I've learned about cruising over the years, it's that you need to choose the right destination, the right cruise line and the right ship for you. Fortunately, there is now an incredible selection of cruise lines, ships and cruise styles to choose from, both in New Zealand and around the globe. And there is no need to spend a fortune.
You can go on that romantic cruise we first dreamed of, have an active getaway with the kids, celebrate a milestone with extended family, go on a culturally enriching expedition cruise, or journey to one of the world's most remote destinations, which few travellers will ever see. Or visit somewhere that was once considered remote but is now accessible thanks to the growth of cruising.
One of our favourite recent trips has been a seven-night trip to Papua New Guinea with our teenage son — coincidentally, on the line that my husband and I first cruised with all those years ago. It is important to keep up with cruise industry changes or you could miss the boat. Twenty years later, that same cruise line was virtually unrecognisable and our holiday was fabulous from start to finish.
Though it is great to have all this choice, it can make finding the perfect cruise more difficult. With so many new ships, cruise styles, deals, and destinations being launched all the time, it's not surprising many travellers feel all at sea. How do you create the perfect cruise holiday with so many to choose from? That's where this new column comes in. Every fortnight I'll be talking about all things cruising, from the best cruise deals, to information on hot new destinations and shore excursions, family cruise advice, cruise reviews, new ship news, cruise travel tips, and a first-hand look at different cruise styles.
I hope you enjoy the journey.
Three tips for the perfect cruise
Avoid school holidays
Don't sail during the school holidays unless you are travelling with school-age children. Cruise prices tend to be higher and your choice of cabin can be limited as ships tend to fill up fast. Even if you enjoy having kids around, you'll almost certainly end up paying more for your cruise.
Check the currency
Onboard prices may be in US dollars, even if the ship is sailing around New Zealand. This can make for a more expensive holiday than you had originally planned. Check the onboard currency before you sail and budget accordingly, so there are no unwelcome surprises when you board the ship.
Allow for flight delays
Allow plenty of time for flight delays if you are flying in on the day the cruise. If your ship leaves from an international port, consider booking a night's accommodation the night before it is due to sail. Bad weather or a mechanical issue can cause you to miss the ship, even if you are travelling domestically.
● Do you have a burning question about cruising? Want to know how to get the best deals? Which cruise line is right for you? How to make the most of your time onboard?
Email email@example.com with Cruise in the subject line and Tiana will be able to help.