Cruises are a popular vacation option for many travelers. Cruise vacations allow passengers to visit different destinations every day (without packing and unpacking every day) at inclusive rates (includes lodging, meals, entertainment, activities, and more).
Follow these 8 great tips when selecting a cruise—your first, next, and every cruise.
8 Great Tips for Selecting a Cruise
1. Cruise Line
Cruise lines spend a fortune in advertising to accurately project their onboard personalities. Pay attention to marketing materials (brochures and websites) so that you are not surprised by a cruise line not matching your personal style. For instance, if people in an ad match what you are looking for, that is probably the cruise for you. However, if ads show people dressed in leis at a limbo party and you seek a quiet atmosphere, do NOT book that cruise. If another ad shows people in formal attire and you are a casual person, do NOT book that cruise.
Most cruise lines serve several destinations. Major cruise lines will have ships in the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, and other cruising destinations around the world. Even in the same region—like western Caribbean—itineraries vary, so make sure your preferred stops (ports of call) are included.
Larger ships offer more activities, dining options, and entertainment, along with a smoother ride in rougher waters. Smaller ships can visit small (and more exotic) ports and offer individualized service.
Flexible sailing dates means better deals. A Caribbean cruise in the middle of January costs a fraction of a New Year’s Week cruise. Popular cruises might be sold out of lowest and highest priced cabins more than a year prior to departure.
Your room type can make or break your cruise vacation. Do you want the lowest priced cabin, just to be on the ship and figuring you will do tons of activities? Or a top of the line cabin with an expansive balcony? These are the two most popular cabin types and they usually are booked the earliest. The likely scenario is you will fall somewhere in the middle, both in preference and reality.
6. Preferred Travel Agent
Every cruise line has travel agencies who book more passengers (than other agencies). These preferred travel agents will offer the lowest rates and best cabin selection, in addition to possible upgrades, onboard credits, or other gifts or incentives. Using the right travel agent might be the most important factor for selecting a cruise.
A repo, in this case, is not a ship which was repossessed for delinquent payment. In cruise lingo, repo is short for repositioning. A repositioning cruise occurs when the ship has to be delivered to another part of the world. For instance, a ship might do Alaska cruises in the summer and Caribbean cruises in the winter. In April/May and September/October the cruise line repositions the ship between those two destinations. Repo cruises represent great value, with per day rates lower than traditional cruises.
After doing Caribbean and Alaska cruises, jaded cruisers crave different cruising experiences. Such cruise situations—which are not limited to veteran cruisers—include transatlantic itineraries, South Pacific, Alaska Ferry, charters (crewed and bare), smaller ships, windjammers or clippers, river cruises, and freighters. You might be interested in an UnCruise adventure.
What other factors do you consider when selecting a cruise?