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An industry-wide increase in ship sizes combined with the rising popularity of multigenerational cruising means it is likely you will find yourself onboard a mega-ship such as Ovation of the Seas sooner rather than later. Read on to discover how seniors can make the most of their experience onboard a larger ship, with advice on everything from check-in to choosing the best cabin and how to grab a bargain fare.

Seniors can save on a megaship

Mega-ships offer significant savings for retirees who can travel at short notice. With thousands of cabins to fill, there is sure to be one to suit you at some point during the season. Keep a close eye on trips with good availability, particularly as the departure dates gets closer, as these are prime candidates for deep discounting.  You should also sign up for travel agency newsletters which often contain deals that are so cheap they can’t be advertised on the company website.

Travel longer for less

Longer cruises tend to be cheaper, particularly if there aren’t many ports. Mega-ships are ideal for repositioning cruises and other extended itineraries as there is plenty to keep passengers entertained. Even if there are a lot of sea days, there is little chance of getting bored on a mega-ship.

Choosing an itinerary is easy

Getting on and off a mega-ship is easier than you might think as these vessels must dock at a wharf at each port. This makes them the perfect choice for seniors who would prefer to avoid travelling on a tricky to get in and out of tender boat to and from shore.

Best megaship cabins

Guarantee staterooms might save money but you don’t want to leave your cabin choice to chance on a ship like Ovation of the Seas or Quantum of the Seas. If you’re unlucky and end up at the far end of a mega-ship, you could find yourself (literally) walking for miles. Study the deck plans to see which cabins are close to the elevators or your favourite dining and entertainment venues and book your accommodation accordingly.

Not all inside cabins are equal

Inside staterooms are ideal for seniors on a tight budget. They’re the lowest and most affordable category you can book, simply because they lack a view. While some inside staterooms might be akin to dark closets with a bed and bathroom, the modern ones found on mega-ships offer budget-conscious cruisers an appealing way to save. Ovation of the Seas offers virtual balcony staterooms which show real time views on large screens in interior staterooms. With so much to see and do onboard, it is unlikely you will spend much time in your room much anyway.

Check-in online and do it early

If you are one of the first to complete your details when online check-in opens around 90 days before the ship is due to depart, you can also be one of the first onboard. Those who register early can choose the first boarding slot between 11.30am and 12pm. Completing your check-in online also saves hours at the pier. While others are filling in paperwork and having their photos taken, a representative from the cruise line will check you off using an iPad and invite you to go straight through.

Book your shore excursions early

It can be tempting to leave shore tours to the last minute but with so many cruisers in port, it is not uncommon for tours to sell out, particularly if you prefer to organise your own excursions. In destinations such as Hobart with a limited number of tour operators, you could be out of luck if you don’t pre-book your ship’s shore excursions and independent tours in advance.

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Reserve restaurant tables online

Popular signature restaurants like the theatrical Wonderland and dining events such as Chef’s Tables can sell out before some mega-ships have even set sail, especially on shorter itineraries. Make reservations in advance using the on-line cruise planner so you don’t miss out on your favourite dining venues.

Don’t rule out certain activities

While it’s true that waiting in line to boogie-board on the FlowRider surf simulator for the first time can be a little nerve wracking, especially if the other riders are younger than you, there is no need to worry. If you can lie on your stomach and then get up again without too much trouble, there is nothing stopping you joining the fun. Many mega-ship activities such as the FlowRider, iFly and bumper cars are suitable for most ages and abilities. Why should your grandkids have all the fun?

Disclosure: The writer loves cruising on megaships and trying out all the activities while she is onboard. 

Want more great cruise advice? Check out our tips for choosing the perfect cruise, cruising with grandchildren, cruising with tweens and cruising with kids of all ages, solo cruising, the best activities on Ovation of the Seas, doing a Transatlantic cruise with kids, cruising in Australia or Papua New Guinea, Iceland cruise tips, cruising on a megaship, scoring a bargain cruise fare, cruising the Mediterranean, making the most of a cruise ship kids club, luxury cruising with kids, and the Byron Beach Club onboard P&O Cruises. We have also reviewed Disney Wonder, Pacific Adventure, Celebrity Edge, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, Pacific Encounter, Carnival Splendor, Voyager of the Seas, Nieuw Statendam, Viking Helgrim, Pride of America, Coral Expeditions in Tasmania and the Great Barrier Reef, Celebrity Solstice, and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.