Choose The Right Cruise – A Comprehensive guide!

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Choose The Right Cruise

Cruising can be a great way to spend your vacation money.  Cruise lines compete for your business, each one working to provide exciting onboard activities and shore excursions. Itineraries cover much of the world offering something for everyone. For example, you can:

  • Enjoy a 3-day mini cruise or spend months sailing around the world.
  • Explore Antarctica or lounge on a Caribbean beach.
  • Choose high-end luxury, budget-friendly casual, or anything in between.
  • Join 6,000 passengers having fun in the sun or 50 people enjoying the beauty of the Mediterranean.
  • Dance all night at a never-ending party or immerse yourself in an academic lecture series.

There are even specialty cruises to accommodate any number of interests. If a good cost-effective way to take a vacation or see the world is your goal, one of the many cruise options might be the right choice.

When you are on a cruise the ship is, in reality, a floating hotel; once checked in you just relax and enjoy the ride. Not having to worry about traveling from one destination to the next can be a real comfort. Of course, traveling on a ship means every cruise will have a few days at sea; therefore, finding a ship with activities and amenities to enjoy will help make your vacation that much better.

Many people love to gamble and except for Disney and Viking, most cruise ships have onboard casinos. Some ships have spaces reserved for adults giving parents and those without children a place of their own. There are several options so consider the cruise line and ship carefully. If you want to bring the kids and have a great family vacation, a Viking cruise would not be the best idea. If you are looking to leave the kids behind or get romantic, maybe the Disney cruise isn’t the best option.

One of the more important considerations is the size of the ship.  A yacht with 100 passengers offers a very intimate experience but onboard activities will be limited.  A mega-ship with more than 6,000 passengers will have activities galore but might feel impersonal and crowded.  Think about the onboard activities you want. Consider your dining options, shows, shopping, bars, coffee shops and more.

Choosing the right ship can make all the difference. And one more thought about ship size. Smaller ships are much more responsive to the ocean; you will know you are on a ship at sea. If seasickness is a concern, maybe a large ship is the way to go.

Cruising can be very cost-effective with almost as many price options as there are cruises. The same sailing will have a wide array of prices and bargains can be found on and off the official websites, so look around. A little flexibility on dates or ships can lower the cost even more.

One of the largest cost drivers is the cabin you pick. Considering multiple options before settling on a final choice is a good idea. Lower priced accommodations generally come with downsides that may not be obvious, so it doesn’t hurt to ask questions. One thing to keep in mind is that the quoted price is seldom the total cost so be sure to research what is not included.

With so many cruise lines operating today, it would be impractical to list them all. The list below takes a quick look at some of the larger, more popular companies.

Luxury/Ultra-luxury

  • Crystal: A small-ship luxury cruise line.  They are more family-friendly than some others.
  • Regent Seven Seas:  A fleet of small ships with possibly the most all-inclusive luxury experience.
  • Seabourn: A luxury line with a fleet of small ships. They not as family-friendly as other cruise lines.
  • Silversea: A small-ship luxury cruise line. Evenings might be more formal than other cruise lines.
  • Cunard: A small fleet of luxury ships including the only true ocean liner still in service. They are more formal than other luxury lines and have the convenience of large ships.
  • Oceana: A luxury cruise line that is less formal than most. They focus on the culinary experience.
  • Windstar: By far the most intimate of the luxury segment. Half of their current fleet are sailing ships.
  • Viking: Luxury cruising on small ships. There are no casinos and no children under 18 are allowed.

Upscale/Premium

  • Celebrity: A step above the mass market. They boast fine dining and a wide array of itineraries.
  • Princess: A large fleet, including a few smaller ships for more intimate sailings.
  • Holland America:  A good-sized fleet. They offer an upscale experience in a relaxed environment.
  • Disney: A small fleet of large ships offering themed cruises. They are family-friendly but have activities for adults only. There are no casinos on their ships. Most cruises have a fireworks show.
  • MSC: A fleet of large ships with activities for everyone.  Custom packages offer budget flexibility.

Mainstream/Mass Market

  • Royal Caribbean International: A fleet that includes the largest cruise ships currently afloat. A wide range of itineraries and activities offer something for everyone.
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines: A medium-sized fleet. Their ships have a casual feel. They offer a Hawaii cruise on the only cruise ship homeported in Honolulu.
  • Carnival: Currently the world’s largest cruise line. Their goal is to provide fun vacations. Inexpensive fares and a wealth of activities will appeal to a wide variety of people.

Cruise line reviews can help with decision making. It also pays to read legitimate reviews of individual ships. Finally, the cruise line wants you to have a good time and become a repeat customer. Don’t hesitate to check with them to make sure you are signing up for the cruise you want.

 

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