Never been on a cruise before? Check out these tips for a first cruise. There are a lot of factors you need to consider while choosing the most suitable cruise for you. You may not be familiar with them. If you are confused about the plethora of options available, you’re in the right place. By the end of this article, you will find out everything you need to know for how to choose a cruise that is best for you.
How to Choose a Cruise
Things to Consider While Choosing a Cruise
It varies from person to person what they consider ‘important’ while choosing a cruise. We all have different priorities and goals when going on a vacation. Particular themes or vibes draw some of us more. You may be traveling with your family and looking for a family-friendly cruise.
Or you may be just looking for a weekend getaway and wish to embark from your nearest port. You may be willing to spend a bit of money to treat yourself, or you might be on a tight budget. You might have a set itinerary in mind or you might be flexible and want to explore.
Depending on your budget and the amount of time you have, the perfect cruise will also depend on where you want to embark from. If you have a destination in mind, as most cruisers do, start there.
Look into all the options available and begin to shortlist. If you do not want to travel a long distance to the port, you can start by researching the cruises available at your nearest port.
Choosing a Cruise That Matches Your Budget
For some reason, the word ‘cruise’ sounds expensive and brings up images of luxurious accommodations. That is not necessarily true, especially regarding the expense. With a little bit of research and smart booking, you can score pretty reasonable deals.
In fact, with food, accommodation, and other costs combined, you may find that cruising is cheaper than an inland vacation. If affordability is a priority, make sure to check out all the different levels of cabins most ships have.
You can also be on the lookout for impromptu discounts and other deals. You may even book off-season, for example, a Caribbean cruise before hurricane season. During Alaska season, the very first and last cruises’ tickets are often sold at reduced prices, so you can check that out as well.
How Cruise Lines Differ from Each Other
What mainly differs from cruise line to cruise line is the extent of luxury and their target demographics. Some cruises have options for in-depth exploration due to the length of their journeys. The Carnival Cruise Line, for example, is known to attract younger, more energetic crowds.
If you are a Disney fan, you could go for the Disney Cruise Line for a magical experience at sea. The mainstream lines vary hugely from the luxury ones. Within them, however, the overall services are quite similar.
Luxury cruises often offer a more intimate experience. They will focus on you individually and allow you to personalize accordingly. Due to the smaller sizes of their ships, they also often offer exotic destinations that other ships are not even able to reach.
Even though cruise companies market themselves with the fact that they have something for everyone, there are differences that set them apart. You have to keep your eyes and ears open while researching to spot their unique points. After you choose a line, look deep into the individual ships.
Newer ones may have innovative features and get booked rapidly, while the older ones may have noteworthy service and the traditional touch. It all comes down to personal preference and how well you conduct your research. You could check out cruiser reviews to read the personal experiences of other passengers.
Figuring Out if You Prefer Small Ships or Big Ships
A simple way to figure this out is by thinking about the kind of hotels you prefer. If you prefer staying in big hotels, bustling crowds don’t bother you, and you need to be engaged in some kind of activity throughout the day, big cruise ships are going to be more suitable for you.
Most bigger ships have every amenity and entertainment activity you can think of, including multi-cuisine restaurants, retail outlets, and even water parks! On the other hand, if personalized and more intimate getaways appeal to you, you should opt for smaller ships.
It is important to note that “small” ships could range from having 30 or fewer up to 1,000 people. The latter may not seem very “small” to you, but larger ships can easily accommodate 3,000 customers.
Also, when traveling on smaller ships, you are more likely to feel the swaying movements of the water. If you think that will cause significant discomfort in you, bigger cruises are a better option.
Finally, smaller ships are generally on the pricier side of life, so you have to carefully consider your budget before opting for one.
Looking for Cruises that You Can Drive to From Home
Good news for you if you live in America! There is a pretty high chance that your home is within driving distance (maximum of seven hours) from a port where cruises set sail. Ports from which cruises depart are known as homeports.
You need to carefully check which homeport your cruise will start from since they often vary around the year. In the US, there are homeports in Alabama, California, New Jersey, Washington, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, Virginia, and New York.
Don’t be disheartened if you are not currently residing in the U.S. A lot of other countries also have home ports that are at driving distance. For example, if you are based in Australia, the majority of cruises set sail from Sydney, but some also depart from Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Fremantle (Perth).
If you are in the UK, you can embark upon cruises in Southampton, London, Liverpool, Dover, and Greenock. As for other European countries, you can find homeports in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Venice, Copenhagen, and Athens, among many others.
Certain Times of the Year Are More Suitable for Certain Cruise Itineraries
There are even some itineraries available for cruising at only certain times of the year. First of all, you have to consider what your personal preference is. Do you enjoy indulging yourself in fall foliage or are you hoping to be able to take a dip in the ocean?
If you are looking for specific weather conditions, keep in mind that it will probably be a peak season situation, and prices are likely to be quite high.
Due to heavy monsoons, it is often recommended to cruise Asia during the months between November and March. The same goes for South America because it has nice and warm weather during that time of the year.
If you plan to spend your summer vacation on a cruise, you may target Europe, Bermuda, or Alaska. These three offer completely diverse experiences, but can be cruised from June to September.
The Duration of Your Cruise
Are you worrying that you might not be able to squeeze a long-haul journey into your schedule right now? There is no reason for you too. Cruises can be of various duration, ranging from two-night trips to 200-day long tours around the globe.
Even though you don’t need to take an extended cruise, you should try to take ample time to fully experience and enjoy the destination you are cruising. If you are looking to wind down and relax, you should allocate sufficient time for that as well.
Finalizing Your Itinerary from the Plethora of Available Options
This will depend on what is close to your heart. There is a multitude of ports available that have their own unique characteristics. If aesthetically pleasing things that can offer you retail therapy makes your heart happy, your decision will not be that difficult.
Cruises of the Eastern and Western Mediterranean offer lots of cultural and history-rich experiences. If there is a certain activity you want to try out or a particular site you want to visit, you’re sure to find a cruise that offers it.
While you should be excited about your cruise, try not to focus all of your attention on a particular port. This may very well lead to disappointment. This is because weather can oftentimes be unpredictable at sea, which means that a port may be canceled, sometimes with less than 24 hours’ notice.
There may even be a medical emergency that could cause the cruise to alter its route. All in all, things may go wrong, so keep your expectations and excitement flexible.
You are now one step closer to embarking on the perfect cruise for you. Even though choosing your ideal cruise may seem complicated, now you know how to choose a cruise and the cruising experience itself will more than makeup for it.