With so many cruise ships available and countless destinations to visit, booking a cruise can be somewhat of a minefield. To help you sail through the process effortlessly, we’ve put together some top tips on how to book a cruise. Get the booking out of the way, and you’ll be out on the open water in no time.

Pick Your Location

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First and foremost you’re going to have to hone in on where you want to go. European ocean cruises can take you north for icy adventures among fjords and icebergs or south to island hop amongst the Mediterranean. Asian cruises let you bow down at temples and marvel at nature. Meanwhile, Caribbean cruises promise glorious turquoise-blue water and sparkling white sand. It’s good to have an idea of where you’d like to go before getting any further in the booking process.

Find the Best Time to Set Sail

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Once you know where you want to go, the next question is when. Keep in mind that seasons will impact your vacation, not to mention sea conditions. Check out the climate of the area you’d like to head to and make sure to avoid extreme weather like hurricane seasons. Most areas will have a peak season that offers optimum conditions, if getting the perfect weather is a must, then you’ll probably want to aim for the high season. If you can cope with slightly more variable weather, then the low season will give you temptingly lower prices.

Decide How You’ll Travel

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This may seem a bit of a strange one, but cruising isn’t all about, well, cruising. First, you have to get on the boat. If you choose to fly you can get to your destination more quickly, a tempting choice if you’re sun-seeking. If you’d prefer not to fly, there are cruise ports all around the world and probably one not too far from you. You can avoid airports and jump straight on board.

Set Your Budget

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As with any vacation, knowing what you can afford helps you book a trip that is within your means. The more you can spend, the more you’ll get, but that doesn’t mean you have to blow the bank. If you can afford to go all-out luxury, you'll have more cabin space, lots of extras and exclusive benefits. You can book a great cruise with a more modest budget too, though. The important thing is to check out what is included in the price and compare this to what you tend to spend on when you’re on vacation. If you like a drink, look for a package that includes them, likewise if you want to go on lots of excursions, make sure they’re not all going to push your budget over the edge.

Research Different Cruise Lines

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Chances are there are various cruise lines that visit the destination you’ve chosen. It’s worthwhile researching as many as you can and getting an idea of what they offer both on board and in terms of itineraries. If you have specific requirements then its worth checking that the cruise line can deliver. There are companies that are dedicated to multi-generation family groups, luxury travel or grown-up cruises with style at their core. No doubt, whatever you’re looking for there is a ship to suit.

Choose Where You’ll Snooze

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Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to enjoying your trip on the ocean. Inside cabins won’t have a window or balcony although some of the newer ships have virtual versions. If you need a bit more room than a standard cabin, you can upgrade to a suite that comes with a separate sitting room and more space all round. Make sure you check out the details of your ship and compare floor plans to ensure you have the cabin you need to get your well-earned rest.  

Make Your Booking

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Once you know where you want to go, how you want to get there and who with, it’s time to make the all-important booking. The earlier you can book, the more choice you’ll have, and you might even get an early-bird discount. You can book directly through the cruise line to get a personalized service, online if you prefer to do things yourself and don't want to chat, or through a travel agent to let them handle everything.