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—whether for your first, next, or 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.
There are big differences between Viking River or Viking Ocean Cruises, Carnival Cruise, Celebrity Cruises, UnCruise, and other cruise lines.
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.
See also 8 Great Elements of a Cruise Vacation
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.
Also, departure ports may be a big factor. Even for Caribbean cruises, you can choose to depart from Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Mobile Alabama, and other ports.
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.
Check out the newest ship by Princess: Exciting Discovery Princess Dining Options and Tips
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?
14 thoughts on “8 Great Tips for Selecting a Cruise”
Other factors I am concerned about are cost and boat size. I prefer smaller ships.
Smaller ships can visit ports that larger ships cannot. Great choice.
I love your line about ‘repos’! And I think it’s all about the ship, since this is a cruise, not a land vacation – find the one that’s right for you.
Absolutely. Finding a comfortable ship, which will vary for each person, is essential.
Very interesting! Where do you find transatlantic cruises and repo ones? Interested to see if we might want these alternatives!
Well, you can look at each line’s itineraries. Repositioning cruises are usually longer than regular cruises, maybe 2-3 weeks instead of 1.
Some sensible tips all too easy to neglect in the excitement of selecting a cruise. Preferred travel agent and Repos are both things I’ll think about in future.
Hope it works out for you. Let me know.
Great post with things to consider. I’ve only been on one (Caribbean) cruise that a friend planned so I’ve never really thought about what I would want. My biggest complaint is the cost for singles, but I know promotions come up now and then. I didn’t realize repo cruises would be cheaper. That’s something I would look out for more often.
I know some cruise lines are alloying more cabins for singles, so be on the look out for that.
Wonderful post! Listening to referrals from friends can also be a good tip for selecting a great cruise. Thanks for sharing!
Completely agree 😀 Thank you, Lauren!
Cool article — I’ve never selected a cruise but I did work for a cruise company for three summers in high school/college. I definitely agree that these are the handiest things to consider. Hopefully I’ll be booking one soon!
Thank you for the note, Valerie.
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