Our cruise ship deck plans will show you what is what (activities, amenities, serving what purpose), located where, changed when (newest upgrades / latest refurbishment review). All dining venues (restaurants and food bars) reviews also contain basic menu/cuisine information, and whether the dining options are complimentary, at surcharge PP or a la carte priced.
While we are talking pre-cruise homework, taking out cruise-specific travel insurance is advisable; even if you are not leaving Australian waters, Medicare and private-health policies do not cover medical expenses, which can be enormous on cruises. A good policy will also cover your expenses for cruises that are cancelled, unforeseen flight delays that mean you miss the ships departure and pre-paid port excursions that might have to be missed because of weather or sea conditions.
Major cruise lines offer discounts, perks or a free deck plan and cabin when a group books a certain number of cabins, whether it is for a bunch of friends or for a special occasion such as a wedding or anniversary.
If you are looking for less busy cruises, whether ocean-going or river, it is best to book in shoulder or low seasons. These vary according to destinations – in Australia, for example, the peak season is the Christmas school holidays and for European river cruises, you are looking at April to October. River cruises in Europe start operating in March and usually go through to December; Christmas-market cruises are becoming increasingly popular but the cold weather doesn not appeal to everyone.