Cruise advice for seniors

How can you enjoy the salt air in your lungs, the open ocean at your feet, exotic destinations and boundless entertainment, all without stepping foot on a plane? All aboard, it’s time to set sail on an overseas cruise!

The flexibility, comfort and ease of cruise holidays make them a popular way to explore overseas, especially for older travellers. In this quick guide to cruising for seniors, we outline how to start your planning, look into some popular destinations and offer a few clever tips to help you enjoy smooth sailing.


Why go on a cruise?

Cruise holidays have great appeal to senior travellers for several reasons. They give you the flexibility to do as much or as little as you like, they’re a great way to meet like-minded people, and there are countless itineraries to choose from.

Cruises can also be far less physically and emotionally draining than your regular overseas trip; especially if you depart from a port in New Zealand. You can avoid all of the stress associated with flights, taxis, hotel bookings, buses and tours, and truly unwind while you’re guided across the seas. 

You can even enjoy a cruise around New Zealand if you’re looking for a shorter trip or want to experience all that our country has to offer.


How to choose a destination

Ready to start planning your dream holiday? Here are five questions to ask yourself while choosing a cruise destination.

1. How long do you want to travel?

Deciding on the timeframe of your trip will immediately narrow down the field of possibilities. If you’re looking for a week-long holiday, destinations like the South Pacific might be the best choice. However, if you’re open to a longer journey, then the USA or even an around the world cruise could be an option. If you're looking for a shorter trip, you may want to stick to our own beautiful waterways or experience the coastline of New Zealand.

If you’ve never been on a cruise before and are only testing the waters, consider booking a shorter trip in case it’s not your cup of tea after all.

2. Are you open to flying before you board? 

If you’d prefer to avoid getting on an aeroplane, you may be limited to the cruises departing from your domestic ports.

3. What climate do you enjoy?

If you’re hoping to soak in the rays while relaxing on a sunbed, an Alaskan cruise through ancient glaciers won’t be your best choice. Deciding on what climate you’re comfortable with is an essential first step.

4. Have you considered an adults-only cruise?

Kids can be a lot of fun to be around, but if you’d prefer to unwind without feeling like you’re babysitting the grandkids, an adults-only cruise could be the right choice. If you can’t find an entirely adults-only cruise that suits your travel plans, don’t worry most cruise lines have kids-free areas onboard where you can put your feet up.

5. Do you plan to take onshore excursions? 

Cruises aren’t all about enjoying the serenity of the sea; onshore excursions can be a great way to explore cities when you reach the port. Think about the destinations you’d love to visit and whether these are accessible during your cruise.


Three popular overseas cruise holidays

Now that we’ve covered the basics of planning your next trip, let’s look into three popular overseas cruise destinations for Kiwi travellers.


1. Pacific Islands 

Turquoise waters, dazzling reefs, idyllic islands and vibrant local cultures - it’s easy to see why the Pacific Islands are a premier cruising destination. Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa and Vanuatu are among some of the most popular destinations in the Pacific, where cruises typically run for 7-12 nights.

2. Europe

If you’re interested in onshore excursions along charming city streets, a European cruise could be the perfect fit for you. Shorter European cruises will require you to fly to a closer port before you board, however, you can also find longer journeys departing from New Zealand, often travelling through Indonesia and other Asian countries.

3. USA and Canada 

From the famous street corners of New York to the frigid coasts of Canada, American cruises are a bucket-list adventure for travellers from all around the world. As with European cruises, shorter US and Canada cruises will require you to fly to a closer port before beginning your journey onboard.


Cruise holiday tips

Whether you’re a cruise veteran or a first-timer, these six tips will help you plan your cruise holiday.

1. Create a packing list 

A detailed holiday packing list is essential for any trip. Items that can make your cruise more enjoyable include:

  • Sunscreen
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Seasickness medication (always discuss your travel plans with your GP and seek their advice regarding medication)
  • Hand sanitiser gel
  • Earplugs to dampen motor noise at night
  • A small portable fan if your cabin isn’t air-conditioned
  • A nightlight for your cabin, especially if you’ve booked on the lower levels
  • A dry pouch to keep electronics like your mobile phone and e-reader safe from splashes
  • Binoculars
  • Chapstick to protect your lips from the wind and sun

2. Book onboard entertainment early to avoid missing out

Stage shows, music concerts and dining can usually be reserved well in advance of your departure date. Remember to check with your cruise provider and don’t delay when reservations become available.

3. Remember your food safety

The quality of cuisine on most cruise ships is generally excellent, however always remember your basic food safety, especially at the buffet. Avoid hot food that has gone cold, and cold food that has gone warm.

4. Manage your medication 

Understanding ever-evolving airport security rules, maintaining a correct dosage schedule and accounting for unfamiliar food and drink can make travelling with medication tricky. To manage your medication while cruising, remember to:

  • Take prescription medication with you in case the infirmary is understocked.
  • Discuss your travel plans with your GP well in advance of your departure date.
  • Keep a list of your prescriptions and medication schedule with you at all times.
  • Monitor time zone changes (many cruises leave reminder cards after cleaning your cabin).

5. Monitor your health

Your health should always be your number one priority while travelling. If you start to feel unwell, don’t hesitate to present yourself to the onboard medical centre.

Cruises have an unfortunate reputation as a breeding ground for bacteria, causing upset stomachs and other illnesses. But by exercising careful hygiene, you give yourself the best chance at staying healthy.

An easy way to keep germs at bay on a cruise is to keep a small bottle of hand sanitiser with you to clean your hands regularly throughout the day, especially before eating.

6. Keep an eye out for last-minute deals 

Seniors with flexible travel dates can often take advantage of last-minute deals, where cruise providers offer considerable discounts to fill their cabins shortly before departure. Many of the major cruise operators have a dedicated page of their website listing available discounted journeys.

Some cruise lines also offer discounts for senior citizens, including Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises.


The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of the articles.

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