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Crafting a Memorable Holiday Part 3B: Cruise Holidays: Why, Who, What, Where and How

by | Nov 25, 2023 | Community, Lifestyle & Wellness, Lifestyle habits, Resources

Now that you have read about the Why, let’s move on to Where, What, When & How to book for your Cruise Holiday:

Where to for your Cruise Holiday:

When it comes to cruise destinations, my first recommendation will always be: Alaska Cruise. Alaska Cruise is only available during the Summer season, from Mid-May to Mid-September. During other times, it is pretty difficult to get in. And if you want to visit the famous Glacier Bay, then this is the only way. 

Glacier Bay National Park, one of the most magnificent wonders in the world, is a bucket list for many, and will be. 

Credit: Dave Bartruff / Getty Images

So with this, what better way to experience cruise than to choose this once in a lifetime itinerary, where you can sip a glass of wine on the deck or in your cabin balcony, enjoying the wonders of nature right before your eyes, hearing the thundering fall of the ice bergs…

In addition, with Alaska cruise, you will be able to join some exclusive excursions, from Whale watching, to brown bear spotting. I will highly recommend those who are interested to take the North/South Bound voyage, instead of a round trip cruise for Alaska at least, as most of the more interesting spots can only be seen at least beyond 3 days of cruising. Plus. If you end your cruise in the heart of Alaska, aka Anchorage, you will be able to extend your trip with a few days of land tour before flying back.

Another great itinerary will be the Mediterranean. In my earlier example, Mediterranean cruises takes you to many of the early civilization of Europe, from Naples to Santorini, from Barcelona to Florence, wild of the Ibiza to the holy of Istanbul… The beauty of the Mediterranean can be thoroughly enjoyed on board, at a fraction of the price of booking expensive hotels and paying 10 euros for a coffee…

Last but to me, not the least exciting, will be for Asians to try out cruising around the Caribbean islands. The Caribbean Islands, similar to the likes of Bali and Phuket, are located near the equator, thus, they are usually tropical islands. You will find familiar fruits such as bananas and coconuts around, with the weather tend to be warm and somewhat humid (though not as much as SEA). However, it is the settlements and culture that fascinates. It is in the Caribbeans that you can find the whole island speaking in perfect London accent (Barbados), should you close your eyes, you will think that you are in London; you can also find an island that has 2 names, “colonized” by 2 different countries (Saint Martin and Sint Maarten), and oh, did I tell you that in the French side of the island, you can visit the “naked beach” (you know what I am referring to), while on the Dutch side, you will find prim and proper behaving locals. Plus, it is in the Caribbeans that you can find pink beaches (Bahamas, Harbour Island; Bermuda), and the famous Bermuda triangle! 

As for those inaugural cruises starting from Singapore to Hong Kong or even Japan, if you are a first timer cruise goer, I would not recommend you so, as they tend to have more days at sea, unless you are a fan of activities on board, it may really be too boring for one… However, inaugural cruises tend to offer more perks (discounted dining credits to specialty restaurants, additional parties and activities etc), if you are someone who enjoy staying on board, this will be a great experience.


When to Cruise:

If you are planning to try out the above cruise itineraries, then Summer and Spring will be the best time to reach out. 

Alaska is only open for cruising From May – September (Summer), and most cruise liners only offers Mediterranean cruises around the same time. 

While though Caribbean cruises are offered all year round, the typical monsoon season around that area is from June through November. Other than that, Caribbean is good to go.


What itineraries to choose for Cruise

Now it comes to my favourite part, and will also be the deciding factor if you are going to enjoy your holidays: what kind of itineraries.

Taking the above examples, if you are looking at cruising in Alaska, and like me, you are coming from the other end of the globe (Asia), do set aside more time for this holiday, choose a more exciting route, than to fix your choice base on what is “most convenient”. 

Typically, Alaska cruises comprises of: Inside passage turnaround cruise, North/South Bound cruise and Cruise tours.

I will highly recommend taking Cruise tours that is North bound with land tours after, or at least a North/South Bound cruise. This means, you will take a one way cruise between Vancouver/Seattle and Anchorage which will take you all the way into the heart of Alaska. And should you do so, you have to ensure that your itinerary includes Glacier Bay National Park (GBNP). This is very important, as there are only limited passes Alaska issue out every year, for cruise ships to enter GBNP, just because a cruise offers North/South bound itineraries does not mean it will definitely call in GBNP. So take note when you go through the port of calls. At the moment, I only saw 3 cruise liners offering GBNP (and not every of the itinerary calls in): Princess Cruises, Holland America Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL).


Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

Credit: Norwegian Cruise Line


Above you can that these itineraries call into Glacier Bay National Park. 

While, Royal Caribbean Cruises, for example, will only call into Hubbard Glacier:


It is not that Hubbard Glacier isn’t exciting, but there is a reason why Glacier Bay is awarded as the National Park: you will be surrounded by tens and hundreds of glaciers, not just one. Inside GBNP, you will have the chance to experience John Hopkins Glacier (the most active one), Gilman Glacier, or Margerie Glacier, which often drops colossal chunks of ice into the sea.


I deliberately pointed at the cruise ship that was dwarfed by the mountains of Glacier Bay… Mind you, cruise ship going into Alaska typically range from 70,000 tonnes to 125,000 tonnes. Thus, just imagine how magnificent it looks.

So, if we are going to take such a long flight all the way to the other side of the earth, why not make best use of the trip?

Next, if you are choosing Mediterranean as your choice, try to look for at least 10 day cruise, as such itinerary will pass through several countries, so having sufficient time to explore is important.

*Take note: cruise with Santorini may have limited access for wheelchair bounded passengers as water shuttling may be required.


How to book a Cruise most suited to your budget

If you made it through till now, I believe you are somewhat set on wanting to try your hands on booking a cruise. With this industry maturing fast, you can even simply book it via your beloved travel agencies, or you can go straight to one of the cruise liners websites. However, there are still some tricks to with a set budget: look out for good deals.

Avid cruise goers who are particular about their cabin choice will tend to book 6-9 months ahead of their holidays. But personally, I have tried staying on different decks, different type of cabins, my suggestion is, grab those discounted offers and pay more attention to your cabin type if you are claustrophobic, and if you think you will spend most of your time in the room, sipping drinks by the balcony. Otherwise, an outside cabin (aka one with a window view) is good enough. Again, as I mentioned earlier, look out for wheelchair accessible rooms and request for that should you be boarding with your mobility aid.

However, if you are a light and early sleeper, avoid taking cabins that are near to public area (like those cabins near to casino, central lobby etc), as there will be lots of party goers or late-night hang around that might disturb your rest.

The only exception being Alaska cruise, where the cheapest price is always the start and end of the season, alternatively I would recommend taking from June earliest and end August as the last of the best choice. May is still considered pretty the start of the season, so you will tend to see less activities (such as falling logs of ice and moving glaciers) since it will still be cold, while September will be the end of the season, most of the action would be gone by then…So if you are able to see some good deals for June – July cruise dates, grab them!

There are actually so many things to look out for and to try your hands, but the beauty of going cruises, is that you should do some planning and checking through different cruise liners before putting your money down. So, I will leave you to explore more and we can share our “best practices” together.


Growing Needs would like to thank Ms Jeslyn Ho, who spent more than 50% of her time shuttling between cities over the past 25 years, for contributing to the article and sharing tips on travel for seniors.

About Growing Needs

About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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