Saga, the leading tour operator for over 50s, and travel expert Judith Chalmers have compiled a selection of top tips for first time cruisers. Combined with Saga's selection of "newcomers" cruises in 2008, customers can now be fully confident about what to expect and how to prepare for a break on the ocean wave.
Cruising is the perfect way to relax in comfortable and elegant surroundings, visit plenty of interesting and enticing destinations, meet new friends and enjoy fantastic food and wine. Yet for some, going on their first cruise represents a world of "unknowns".
To help people who have not sailed on one of Saga's ships before get a taste of this wonderful holiday experience, Saga has put together a selection of four, five and seven night "newcomers" cruises onboard Saga Rose and Saga Ruby.
Among the taster cruises is Saga Ruby's Flavours of France and Belgium, a five-night journey leaving from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Departing June 29, 2008, Saga Ruby heads south to Amsterdam, and then continues to Le Havre from where passengers can visit Paris. The ship's final port of call will be Zeebrugge, where customers can join a day trip to Bruges. Prices for the cruise start from £734 per person, and include insurance and cancellation cover, travel to and from Newcastle, and all meals and entertainment on board.
Saga is also offering a choice of five seven-night newcomers themed cruises to the Norwegian Fjords in 2008, departing from Dover and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. For example, Saga Rose's Norway's Coastal Splendours cruise departs from Dover on September 2, 2008. As well as enjoying the breathtaking scenery of Norway's fabled fjords, highlights include a visit to Bergen with its colourful wooden houses and Bryggen waterfront, and the famous 'Iconic Norway' tour on the steep and dramatic Flam Railway. Prices for the seven-night trip start from £999 per person, and include insurance and cancellation cover, travel to and from Dover, and all meals and entertainment on board.
Newcomers to Saga cruises on these itineraries will receive a complimentary bottle of champagne and £25 per person on-board credit. They will also have the option to join an exclusive newcomers' cocktail party to make new friends.
Saga's travel expert Judith Chalmers' top ten tips for first time cruisers are:
• Do your research. Gone are the days when cruises only head to the Med. Now there are endless destinations to choose from – from Asia to Antarctica – and several regional departure points, so take the time to find your perfect cruise itinerary. Once on board it is helpful to have some prior knowledge of where you are visiting so make the most of the shore excursion booklets to plan activities which best fit your interests.
• Pack what you need. You are not limited by weight on many cruise ships, so if the cruise starts in the UK, you can afford to take more rather than less and cabins are often more spacious than you think.
• Orientate yourself. When you embark on the ship you might find yourself a bit lost – so have a good wander around to find your bearings.
• Get involved. All cruise ships offer plenty of activities to take part in, so don't be afraid to join in the fun!
• Stay fit and healthy. There is a wide range of food to enjoy on a cruise, so if you can, it is a good idea to walk off the calories with a brisk couple of laps of the ship now and again.
• Never be afraid to ask. Some people might worry that they don't know the right cruising etiquette. Just ask a friendly crew member who will always be happy to advise you.
• Keep an eye on the clock. It's easy to lose track of time when you are experiencing all the sights, sounds and smells of a new destination. If you leave the ship, remember to be back in good time.
• Unlike Saga, where all tips are included, many cruise operators do not include gratuities in the price of their cruises. If this is the case, remember to tip cabin and waiting staff at the end of your cruise.
• Stay in touch. A cruise is a great opportunity to meet new friends, and I find that many people exchange contact details at the end of their cruise … and organise another one together.
• Keep a diary. Writing an account of your cruise is a great way to relax on deck and will give a great reminder of your first cruising experience.
For further details on Saga Cruises please call 0800 056 5880 or visit www.saga.co.uk/travelshop
Saga cruises include: Insurance and cancellation cover; All port taxes; All meals on board, entertainment and 24 hour room service; All gratuities on board; Private chauffeur car service for passengers living within 75 miles of their departure port or airport, OR our new shared car service for passengers living between 76 and 250 miles of the port, there will be a maximum of four people sharing OR return travel by rail or coach or car parking nearby; All visas; Porterage of luggage at port; Captain's Cocktail party.
Photography of both ships is available on request
* Saga cruises are for people aged 50 and over. A travelling companion may be aged 40 or over.
* All prices quoted are subject to availability and are the lowest available at time of going to press
* Saga cruises are available direct and through branches of Thomas Cook
For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771118.