Deposits and Bookings

Learn more about how to book a cruise holiday and the required deposits

Making the decision to go on a cruise is an extremely exciting moment. You can start planning what to take with you, what excursions you’d like to go on and what tasty dishes you can’t wait to try in all of the incredible destinations you’ll visit.

However, before any of that, you may have a few questions about making your booking. This can include anything from making an initial enquiry to adding extras like excursions and transfers to your package.

To help you choose and book a cruise which is right for you, here’s some of our most frequently asked questions from customers who have recently booked a cruise with us.


There’s a spectacular amount of choice when it comes to cruise holidays, and as well as selecting the right itinerary you also need to make sure you choose a cruise line which will offer the experience you’re seeking. Cunard for example is more refined and suited to mature passengers looking for enrichment and a more traditional cruise experience whilst Carnival cruise line is all about fun and has a more relaxed and casual ambience. To start with, we’d recommend taking a look at the Penelope Cruise reviews on each of the cruise lines we work with to get a better idea of what they can offer you.

From there you can use our Advanced Search to filter your holiday search by date, duration, cruise line and even by ship. However, if you’re interested in our Smart Packages which include flights and free hotel stays then try our Smart Packages page and filter your search by cruise line.

If you’re still feeling unsure, then you can always call us and speak to one of our Cruise Consultants. We take the time to listen to what exactly it is you are hoping to gain from a cruise and use our dedicated expertise to secure a deal that best matches your requirements. So whether you are travelling solo or with a partner, friend or the whole family, there is a cruise line that can cater for all.


This will largely depend on which deal you have opted for, but generally speaking your cruise will include onboard accommodation, food, activities and entertainment. If you opt for one of our Smart Packages, these include flights and more often than not – free hotel stays too.

Items that you can expect to pay extra for are beverages, spa treatments, speciality laundry services and shore excursions.


This varies depending on when you book your cruise, the cruise line you’ve chosen and where your selected itinerary is. If you are booking a cruise within 12 weeks of the departure date you may be required to pay the full amount.


You will receive your travel documents no later than 21 days before your departure date. If your booking takes place within the 21 days, you will be sent documentation immediately. They can be sent via email if you prefer the electronic method, or via post at an extra charge.

If you’re unsure about the travel documents you’ll need for your cruise. Visit our dedicated cruise documents page.


  • When you have chosen your cruise, you may want to think about pre-booking excursions to ensure you don’t miss out. Some destinations are going to be more popular than others and you don’t want to lose out on the opportunity to try an exciting new experience. Similarly, you can also pre-book spa treatments and speciality restaurant reservations.
  • Think about the destinations you are hoping to visit before making a booking, as the weather will play a huge role in your overall experience. Cruises to the Caribbean, for example, are generally cheaper between September and December when it’s considered out of season. For more information on cruise climates, visit our dedicated information page.
  • Don’t fly on the same day your cruise starts just in case of any flight cancellations and delays. In order to give yourself enough time to be transferred to another destination or to make sure you don’t miss embarkation day, make sure you book to fly at least one day prior to your cruise departure.
  • If you’re seeking more of an adult only cruise experience, think carefully about which cruise line you travel with. During the summer holidays especially, children make up a large portion of the ship population. However, there are some cruise lines which cater mainly to adults such as Celebrity Cruises, Cunard or P&O who actually have ships exclusively for adults (Arcadia and Oriana).
  • Be sure to ask about gratuities when booking. For some cruise lines gratuities are included, for others gratuities are at your discretion and for some, like Costa cruise line, tipping is compulsory at the rate of 8‎€ per person per day. This can quickly add up which is why we recommend including it in your budget.
  • Currency and spending money is also something to think about. Whilst you can use debit and credit cards almost anywhere, in some cases it helps to carry some of the local currency. If you’re going a cruise which has several ports of call that use different currency, you may want to order this in advance of your travel.
  • Check and budget for the cost of travel insurance. Although it is relatively inexpensive, it always helps to include extras like this in your budget to avoid the costs rising beyond your expectations.

Shore excursions and how to get the most out of them

So, you’ve made the first step to booking a cruise but you want to have a look at some of the excursions that may interest you. Below are a few key things to keep in mind when selecting the best trips to suit you:

  • If you know exactly what you want to do on your cruise, it might be better to book tours in advance to guarantee you a space. However, it is possible to book excursions onboard at either the reception desk or guest services areas.
  • For example, on a P&O cruise, you can book excursions at the Shore Excursions Office. The charges will be applied to your onboard account and tickets will then be delivered to your cabin.
  • Many shore tours offer reduced prices for children under the age of 12 years and free for those who are under 3 years old. Check the details of your shore excursion for specifics, as this could vary due to who you are cruising with.
  • Make sure you think about the activity level when it comes to booking excursions. Some can be quite exertive or require a lot of walking which might not be suitable for everyone.

For more information about shore excursions, take a look at our frequently asked questions page about the subject.

If you’re new to cruising and have a question that we haven’t been able to answer here, then why not ask us on Facebook or Twitter for a quick response.

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