You’ve decided to take a Finland cruise. But how do you go about booking the best Finland cruise? Initially, you need to do a couple of things – talk to a travel agent to find cruises including Finland, or research yourself. You’ll set a budget to will help determine what cruise line works best for you. The peak season is costlier and the value season is the least expensive. The “shoulder” season – a couple of weeks before and after the peak is often ideal. There will also be European cruise lines sailing this area. Cruising Northern Europe is a shorter season, usually mid May to mid/late September.
Call your travel agent, or, if you don’t have one, one stop by and pick up some brochures about Finland and Northern Europe cruises at a travel agency near your work or home. By using a travel agent, they’ll check group space and may get you a lower rate if they can “place” your cruise with a large group. You may also get extra amenities this way – shipboard credit, a cocktail party, free photos, etc. Always ask for something extra, a travel agent might be able to get you some shipboard credit, or another amenity at no additional cost.
Study the brochures you’ve picked up, or by Googling some keywords – “European Cruises,” “Scandinavia Cruises,” “Finland ports,” “cruises to Finland” and similar phrases. Then visit these sites and cruise line sites and browse for information about the ports that interest you. Most cruises that include Finland stop only at Helsinki in Finland.
Read through the brochures and the online websites thinking about what you’d like to do on your cruise – enjoy late night clubs and dancing, shop ’til you drop, gamble in the ship’s casino and/or attend cooking and other shipboard classes, etc. Are you single and wanting to meet other singles? Do you want a gay cruise? Interested in fine wines or ballroom dancing? Are kids traveling with you & if so, is there a good children’s program on board? This will all help determine the cruise line(s) you should book with.
Determine your budget for your cruise. Once you’ve decided what ports you’d like to stop at, it’s time to set a loose budget.
Consider which cruise line(s) to choose from based on your budget, an itinerary you like and your available travel dates. NCL, Norwegian Cruise Line, is almost always the least expensive but Carnival, Royal Caribbean (RCCL) and others might have specials equally as good. HAL and Celebrity might be a bit more but they claim “no additional tipping” is necessary so that saves some money. Seabourne, Silversea and Radisson are more expensive but include wine and some other adult beverages. Crystal is the most expensive cruise line but it includes extras which get added on to your tab with the other lines. They usually have the oldest passengers of all the cruise ships due to the higher cost. Recently, the smaller luxury lines have been adding cruises to Northern Europe. Then, there are the European liners like Costa and MSC – these cruises are usually on smaller ships with less food choices, and less entertainment and other amenities the large “American” style cruise ships offer. They frequently allow smoking everywhere on the ship and carry a large percentage of European residents.
Take your budget and your list of ports to your travel agency or go online to some online agencies and look for Finland cruise line itineraries. As you match up your desired ports with the ships and dates you want to travel, your list of possible cruises will get shorter. See how your budget fits and eliminate lines that are too expensive. Keep in mind, the listed costs usually do not include taxes and port charges. On most lines you’ll pay for adult beverages, soda, ice cream and similar items. And, include the airfare you’ll be paying to/from your port of disembarkation, usually in Europe.
Determine, which port, is best for you to depart from. Try to pick a port you would enjoy spending an extra day or two in taking in the local sites.
Consider the activities you’re interested in. The crowds on Carnival are usually younger with more partying. HAL and Celebrity often have a slightly older crowd onboard. Longer cruises seem to attract older passengers. NCL offers “freestyle” cruising where you dine whenever you like but you won’t meet fellow passengers and make friends with them because you won’t eat with the same people every night. (Eating with the same group most nights is something I really enjoy.) Study and book your shore excursions as soon as you receive your cruise docs. These fill up quickly and might be gone if you wait until after you’ve begun your cruise.
Book your cruise now that you’ve made your choice. You’re ready to book your cruise either through a travel agent or with an online agency (site). You’ll put a deposit down, give them billing information plus full names, addresses, etc. for each passenger. You’ll get a date when payment in full is required and they’ll send cruise documents out to you a few weeks before your departure. Book a “guarantee” instead of a specific stateroom. If the ship isn’t full, you’ll be upgraded one to several categories above the stateroom guarantee but you will never go “below” the category guaranteed.