How to pick a cruise?
There are a dizzying array of choices and selecting the right cruise is usually an overwhelming task. Is it best to choose a cruise line or destination? Large cruise ship or small? What else is important to know?
I am been on all types of cruises and here are what I consider some important factors to consider when choosing a cruise vacation.
8 Great Elements of a Cruise Vacation
1. Cruise Vacation Destination
Do you want to go to the Caribbean? Alaska? Mediterranean? South Pacific? Galapagos?
Larger cruise lines may visit several different destinations around the world. But smaller cruise lines might specialize in a specific area of the world and could be the right choice for that cruise vacation.
2. Cruise Vacation Itinerary
After narrowing down the general region(s) you are most interested in for your next cruise vacation, look at the exact ports of call (stops). In the Caribbean, for instance, most ships stop in larger ports such as The Bahamas, St. Thomas, and San Juan. If you want to stop in a smaller port, like Antigua, choices will be limited (but that can be a good thing!). Also research the dates of travel.
3. Cruise Ship Size
Some ships are floating cities with over 5,000 people on board. Larger ships have more facilities and activities but are limited as to which ports they use. The smaller the cruise ship, the more flexibility is possible. Smaller ships will stop in smaller (and thus less overrun) ports, like Antigua.
Do you want to be pampered in a luxurious spa with gorgeous scenic views? Do you want to spend time in casinos, doing physical activities, lounging by the pool? After deciding on your destination, itinerary, and cruise ship size, it is worth digging deeper and comparing onboard amenities, services, and facilities.
Some people opt for a minimalist cabin with the expectation of experiencing all that the ship has to offer. Others want a luxurious cabin with an ocean balcony.
See also 8 Great Tips for Selecting a Cruise
6. Cruise Travel Style
Are you looking for an elegant experience with fine dining and dressing up for meals? Would you prefer a more casual environment? Or a mix? See 8. Cruise Line Personality below. Note that cruise line ads project the persona of the cruise vacation experience. This is true whether it is a brochure, TV ad, internet ad, or their website.
If you want an elegant, fine dining type cruise vacation and the ads show a bunch of people frolicking with umbrella drinks, it is not a great match.
Learn about the newest Princess ship: Exciting Discovery Princess Dining Options and Tips
7. Ask Friends
Asking friends and others with similar tastes and preferences is often beneficial. The message boards on Cruise Critic, CruiseMates, and other websites have fantastic recommendations.
8. Cruise Line Personality
Cruise lines spend millions of dollars annually designing ads for the right audience. Their ads may show people limbo dancing or an elderly couple enjoying scenic nature views; that is the cruise’s personality. You will be disappointed if you select a cruise that does not match your personality. This may be the most important factor.
Well, those are eight factors for selecting the right cruise vacation for you.
Note that I did not even mention cost, which for many travelers is the most important factor for choosing a cruise.