Are you dreaming of sailing into the sunset on a cruise vacation?
While a cruise holiday is bound to be a trip you’ll never forget, it’s the planning that’s the stressful part. After all, there are so many options!
From deciding a budget to choosing a location, to planning activities, it can all get a bit daunting.
Relax – believe it or not, but all cruise passengers feel this way in the beginning.
That’s where we come in to help – here are our seven helpful tips on how to pick a cruise. You’ll soon be brave enough to take the plunge!
How to Pick a Cruise: 7 Helpful Tips
1. Pick Your Guests
The first and easiest factor to consider when choosing a cruise line are the guests you’ll be bringing.
How many people will you be bringing along? What’s the age range of your crew?
While all age groups are welcome on most cruises, some trips are more suited to different age ranges. Luckily, it’s usually easy to seek out a cruise that’s suitable for the whole family so you can bring both your toddler and your great-grandmother on a memorable cruise trip.
Families with kids have often said they’ve found cruises to an incredible family vacation due to the ease and smooth running of the trip. However, if you don’t have kids and don’t wish to be around them on vacation (which is fair enough!), there are plenty of options that are adults only.
2. Plan a Budget
When it comes to choosing your first cruise, planning a budget is key. Remember there are no maximums when it comes to spending on a cruise – if you’re seeking ultimate luxury on your vacation prepare to spend, spend, and spend!
Firstly, think about what you can afford to spend per person. To some extent, cruises are all-inclusive as they cover cabin accommodation and meals, plus onboard entertainment. There are extra costs such as bar drinks, shore excursions, spa services, and extra snacks, but unless you go crazy, this won’t be anywhere near as pricey as the initial booking fee.
Next, think about how long you can afford to travel. Cruises can range from anything between a day to month-long around the world voyages; however, most are between 5 to 14 days.
You’ll also need to think about what kind of cabin you’ll be comfortable in. The cheapest cabin options can be cramped and windowless, but if you’re willing to splurge, you can go for a more luxury style cabin featuring a balcony.
Likewise, you’ll need to consider the size and quality of the vessel you’re hoping to travel on. If you’re seeking a mammoth cruise that is like a small city, check out this Cruise Hive list of the top 10 biggest cruise ships in the world, for example.
3. Choose a Location
Here’s where the fun begins – choosing a location! Again, this is all down to preference as cruise ships ply the waters around every continent in the world.
Are you seeking warm weather in the tropics? Try Wings Whitsundays Tours Airlie Beach.
Or do you fancy embarking on a cruise adventure in arctic temperatures?
Maybe Canada or Greenland will be better for you.
Do you want to sail the ocean? Or cruise down a river?
Budget and the time you have to travel will also affect your location choice. You’ll need to consider whether you’ll fly to where you embark, or whether you want to drive to the closest port due to price and convenience.
4. Plan Your Activities
This leads us on to the factor of deciding what activities you’ll want to engage in on your vacation. This heavily links in with your choice of location and budget. After all, you can’t go sunbathing on a cruise around Norway!
Luckily, when it comes to cruise trips, pretty much any activity you could wish for is available.
From relaxing up on deck to partaking in more strenuous activities like hiking, biking, scuba diving, or other water sports, you certainly won’t get bored on a cruise vacation.
Usually, your cruise guide will provide you with a list of on-board and offshore activities before you even book, so you can have an idea of what to expect ahead of your trip.
5. Decide on an Ambiance
When you choose a cruise line, it’s important to decide on the type of ambiance you’re looking for from your vacation. Depending on if you get it right or not, this can make or break your trip!
Do you want to meet a lot of new people, or would you rather keep to yourselves? Do you want to get dressed up for dinner, or are you looking for a more casual affair?
Lots of cruise ships host formal nights, but if that doesn’t appeal, there are plenty that offers a more relaxed atmosphere. Likewise, some cruises have fixed, formal dinner times, with others offering a more casual schedule.
As always, it’s all down to personal preference!
6. Choose Your On-Board Facilities
Some luxury vessels feature facilities that rival those of five-star hotels – think spas, swimming pools, and even concierge and butler services.
Linking in with your budget and the type of activities you enjoy, you need to consider how important it is for a cruise to feature certain onboard facilities.
Is it crucial for the cruise to have kids’ facilities onboard? Or a spa? Or a casino?
7. Book Online
Traditionally cruise travelers book through a travel agent; however, in recent years, the internet has proven to be an effective way of booking your dream cruise.
The world-wide-web offers a wealth of information to help you plan your vacation. From cruise reviews to cruise ship schedules, deck plans, photos of cabins and common areas, lists of shore excursions and activities, and sample dinner menus, there’s everything you could need to know at the click of a button.
Many online travel agents also offer versatile filtering methods where you can select factors such as a time-frame and destination to see exactly which cruises meet your needs.
Now You Know How to Pick a Cruise
With our tips and advice, now you know how to pick a cruise.
Whether your dream vacation involves sunbathing on a cruise in Cuba or sailing the chilly waters of Iceland, you’re bound to find a cruise that suits you. Bon voyage!