From feeling the gorgeous sea mist on your face as your ship sails across the water to enjoying some of the most delicious cuisines onboard and unwinding in a comfortable cabin, there are many reasons why a cruise is a wonderful way to travel.
For this article, we asked bloggers to tell us their top travel tips for people over the age of 65 to make sure they have the most wonderful time throughout their cruise.
Know what you want from a cruise
Whether you prefer an eight-night cruise which includes the opportunity to disembark in several gorgeous European cities, or an around the world cruise lasting for several months which transports you to exotic islands fringed with palm trees and cold polar locations, you are sure to find a cruise to suit your taste and budget.
It is worth doing some research, especially if this is your first time on a cruise. If you are travelling with a partner, ask them what their preferences are and come to a compromise. No-fly cruises can help take the hassle out of travelling so you focus on enjoying yourself, what’s more, this type of cruise doesn’t have any baggage allowance restrictions which is perfect for those who struggle to pack light.
There are also cruises which are perfect for those who prefer colder climes. Consider taking in all of the beauty Norway has to offer during a Northern Lights cruise where you can witness Mother Nature’s most mesmerising light show illuminating the skies.
Cruises come in all shapes and sizes, with different prices, durations, entertainment and activities on board the ship as well as at the variety of ports which you can disembark if you want to. Ultimately, you want to book a cruise which suits you and anyone else you are travelling with. Being over the age of 65 means you are more likely to have the freedom and spare time to travel, so enjoy the research process and start looking forward to a holiday which will create memories to treasure.
Keep an eye on last-minute deals
While it is good to have preferences of cruise destinations it is also worth being open-minded and flexible when it comes to places and dates as this can save you money and allow you to explore somewhere new. As Gary from Tips for Travellers explains: “Look for cruises departing in the next 90 to 60 days. This is the deadline when travellers who have booked earlier have to pay their final balance, and the lines then work to ensure the ship sails full. Some of the best deals can be found there if you are more flexible about dates, ships and cabin types.”
Book your holiday via a cruise specialist
A cruise specialist will be able to answer questions and provide you with an array of choices to suit your taste and budget. Whether you want to book a last-minute trip or want to have an exotic holiday arranged well in advance, going through a specialist will help you find the best value package and the perfect cruise itinerary. Gary, who also runs the Tips For Travellers YouTube channel explains the benefits of using the expertise of a cruise specialist: “Don’t go it alone! All cruises and cruise lines are not the same, and so I strongly recommend that you use a cruise expert to help ensure you travel with the right cruise line, on the right ship, in the right cabin for you and at the best price available.
“They can also talk you through what is, and is not, included in that cruise lines fare and what you need to budget extra for on top of the fare. They can also work on all the transfers to the ports, like flights, and to and from the ship. This will ensure a stress-free cruise experience and mean much less work by yourself. They will always be able to get you the best prices and benefits. Ask them about no-fly cruises if you want to remove the hassle that modern-day flying entails too.”
Figure out what kind of cabin suits your needs
While it can be worth being flexible with cabin choices, it is worth knowing all the options available. Each cruise ships offers a variety of accommodation ranging from cheaper interior rooms to balcony/veranda rooms and larger suites.
Cruise cabin types:
- Inside: A cabin without a window.
- Outside: A cabin with a window or porthole with a view of the outside.
- Balcony: A cabin featuring a veranda which allows you to step outside in your own personal area without having to go to the top deck.
- Suite: A larger cabin, often with separate areas for living and sleeping.
Which cabin you opt for depends on personal taste and budget and accommodation with vary between cruise lines, so conduct some research before making a final decision.
Don’t leave packing for your cruise to the last minute, instead make sure everything is ready to be placed in your suitcases a couple of days before setting off. Mary, who writes at Other Thoughts, is a seasoned traveller and advises to pack proficiently: “Pack lots of mix and match separates, roll instead of folding, and where possible roll ‘outfits’ together. Don't take all your shoes! Instead pack a comfy pair of plimsolls or trainers for sight-seeing, sandals which can be worn day or night, and maybe one pair of heels or dress shoes to really dress up.”
As well as carefully packing clothes, shoes and accessories, Mary also told us the importance of remembering you pack chargers for any electric devices you take on your cruise: “Don't forget chargers for your phone, tablet, camera etc, and a power pack for sightseeing. If you can, upload photos at the end of each day. I copy mine to Facebook on a private setting as a back-up in case I lose or break my phone. I would hate to go on what is so often seen as the holiday of a lifetime and lose my photos.”
Organise medication beforehand
If you take medication prescribed by your doctor, then make sure you have enough supply to last for the duration of the trip and speak to your GP well in advance if you have any questions or concerns.
As well as prescriptions, it is worth packing some aids to help you avoid seasickness on a cruise, advises Janice from An Open Suitcase: “When I was younger I would occasionally feel queasy when I cruised, so now that I am in my sixties, I take a variety of medications before embarking. On my last cruise, I was suddenly concerned about getting seasick, so my doctor prescribed a patch that you wear behind your ear while on board. I definitely recommend it, each patch lasts three days and I never once felt ‘off’ during the trip.”
Even if you don’t usually suffer from motion sickness, it is worth packing some kind of seasickness aid for emergencies. If you aren’t keen on taking tablets then it is worth looking into alternative remedies like an acupressure wrist band, which, when correctly placed on a specific point on your wrist can help relieve nausea.
If you become unwell during your cruise you will be in safe hands thanks to the ship’s on board medical staff. The ship’s infirmary is a useful hub if you encounter minor issues like seasickness, migraines and cuts to more serious medical conditions.
Know your limits
One of the benefits of choosing a cruise is the plethora of entertainment and activities available onboard. However, it is important to pace yourself as Janice explains: “I also recommend knowing your limits. As much as we would all love to see and do all there is available. Don't over plan. Taking advantage of any seminars offered on your ship like chocolate making, wine tasting is lots of fun and a great way to meet other passengers.”
The beauty of cruising is that you can do as much or as little as you like. If you feel tired you can spend a few leisurely hours relaxing in the ships’ lounge, in your cabin, or on deck.
Disembarking when your ship docks at one of the scheduled ports is a great way to soak up local culture and see new places, however, there is no pressure to leave the cruise liner if you don’t wish to.
Embrace solo cruising
Solo cruises are a wonderful way to experience the freedom to enjoy an adventure as well giving you the chance to meet new people.
Cruising solo has become a much-desired holiday experience for many people over the age of 65 because it offers a safe and secure environment to make new friends and visit a new location almost every day. Alex from A Life Well Travelled explained why solo travel can provide people with plenty of social opportunities: “Some people choose to cruise on their own and so the social activities are beneficial. Keep an eye out for the daily alerts and newsletters as to what is happening on board, so you can go along. Even if you're with a group already then many of the activities are a nice way to bond.”
Alex also told us that she had a great time joining in with evening quizzes and games on board a cruise: “It was a really great social event and a nice way to meet other people on the cruise. Having a few familiar faces around the ship was lovely and it was also a nice way to interact with some of the crew.”
No matter where you choose to travel, or which cabin you book, cruise holidays are a great way to experience myriad locations while travelling in style. Once on board, all you will need to think about is having a wonderful time because the cruise ship staff will take care of everything else.
Image Credit: Karsten Bidstrup/Hurtigruten, Agurtxane Concellon/Hurtigruten.