How to book your first cruise
Perfect destinations for new cruisers
If you haven't cruised before, knowing where to start can be tricky. Let us recommend some of our most popular itineraries to new cruisers.
Where should I go on my first cruise?
Whether you’re looking for sun-kissed beaches, historic cities, or breathtaking natural beauty, there are plenty of fantastic cruise destinations to choose from. Regardless of where you go, you’ll enjoy superb value for money, excellent dining options, outstanding entertainment, and the opportunity to explore numerous locations in one holiday - all without needing to unpack in between each one.
Here are our top recommendations for first-time itineraries - all of which prove very popular with guests who have not sailed with us before.
Transatlantic Crossings: the iconic Cunard cruise
Experience an ocean journey unlike any other with a Transatlantic Crossing. Providing the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this popular cruise will allow you to indulge in life’s greatest pleasures, as you make memories to last a lifetime. Sailing from Southampton to New York, or vice-versa, you can explore everything your ship has to offer as well as soak up the spirit of celebration, knowing that one of the world’s most iconic cities awaits upon arrival.
This cruise is perfect for those that care more about the journey than the destination, and want to experience every inch of luxury travel on board with Cunard. Though most of our ships sail the Atlantic at some point during the year, this route is best experienced on board Queen Mary 2 - the world's last ocean liner in service. Thanks to her build, she can offer a smoother journey than her fellow Queens, and guests on board can enjoy unique features such as her planetarium, Illuminations, and the largest library at sea.
A Mediterranean voyage is a popular option for first-time cruisers. Follow in the footsteps of philosophers and poets and tread where Roman Emperors once roamed on a journey through the Mediterranean Sea. This cruise will ignite your imagination and feed your soul in a way that only this part of the world can.
Perfect for all seasons, a sun-drenched Mediterranean cruise will allow you to immerse yourself in the region’s rich history, mouth-watering cuisine, unique local culture, and of course, impeccable scenery.
If you want to seek the sun and make multiple stops, with history, culture and food thrown into the mix, then the Mediterranean may be a good choice for you. With a variety of itinerary lengths, it also makes for a flexible choice around your schedule.
If you have an urge for adventure, or the desire to explore somewhere with raw and untamed beauty, a cruise to the Norwegian fjords could be for you. On this cruise, you’ll discover a land untouched by time and shrouded in folklore, coming face to face with skyscraper cliffs, icy waterfalls and idyllic fishing villages. Whether you opt for a week-long cruise or a longer trip, a Norwegian voyage is sure to give you a magical insight into this wonderful part of the world.
Plus, with cruises throughout the year that depart from and return to Southampton, there is no need to fly to meet your ship, so you can bring as much luggage with you as you please.
Short cruises and mini breaks
If you're not sure you'll enjoy the cruising experience, or if your schedule doesn't allow for a longer holiday, then a short break might be the perfect solution. Cunard offers short cruises from Southampton lasting as few as two nights: just enough time for you to test the waters of this new way of travel. Visit European destinations such as Hamburg, Bruges, or Cherbourg, then either fly home, or simply sail back again! If you travel in the wintertime, you can experience traditional Christmas markets on shore, as well as the glorious festive atmosphere on board your decorated Cunard Queen.
Should you be looking for a breathtaking scenic voyage to tick off your bucket list, an Alaska experience could be the ideal first cruise. Immerse yourself in the many wonderful sights and sounds of Alaska including glittering glaciers, colourful totem poles, and the calming sound of whale song as you come face to face with the country’s wildlife. Though it's further afield (departures are from Vancouver), this unique part of the world is famed for being best seen by ship, and isn't an opportunity to be missed. Queen Elizabeth is the perfect vessel to see the Alaskan sights in luxury, with additional events on board - including a themed Alaskan menu with local ingredients, and a special Ice White Gala Evening.
With a laidback spirit, tropical landscapes, and year-round warm climate, it’s understandable why a Caribbean cruise is a firm favourite. As part of this cruise experience you’ll have the chance to soak up a variety of different influences as you hop from island to island in the sunshine, from the cuisine and language to the architecture and music.
If you don't mind travelling a little further, the Caribbean islands are well worth it, with year-round sun and a sprinkling of islands, each with their own cultures, harmonies and flavours. You could even celebrate Christmas or see in a New Year in this part of the world, with celebrations on board your Cunard Queen. A truly unforgettable first voyage.
FAQs on first-time cruise destinations
What is the best month to go on a cruise?
Although you can cruise all year round, if you are looking to keep costs down, cruising when schools are open tends to be cheaper than cruising during peak periods. For example, January, May, September, October, and early December are good times to travel. Of course, this also depends on where you are travelling to!
If weather is more your concern, it's worth researching each destination of interest. Cruises won't operate during stormy seasons, but if you're looking to spot the Northern Lights on your Norway voyage, or you wish to see the cherry blossoms in Japan, you will want to target certain months over others.
How do I plan a cruise for the first time?
The key to a successful and memorable cruise experience is effective planning. Here are some of our top tips for planning a cruise for the first time:
- Get your documentation ready well in advance
- Pack for all weather conditions - view our packing guide for more information
- Pre-book Shore Experiences and on board activities via My Cunard before you go
- Research your ports - My Cunard contains some helpful guides to get you started
You can also view our article 'Top tips for first time cruisers' for more useful advice.
What is the best place to go on a cruise?
This one comes down to personal choice and what you want out of your cruise experience. However, some of the most popular cruises for first-timers include Transatlantic Crossings, Mediterranean voyages, Norwegian fjords, short breaks from Southampton, Alaska cruises and the Caribbean.
How can I book my first Cunard cruise?
You can book your Cunard voyage either online, by phone (call charges apply) or via a trusted travel agent.