My husband and I discovered cruising on our honeymoon. Since then, we have celebrated several anniversaries on a cruise ship and hope to enjoy many more. We like visiting several locations while unpacking only once. We love the balance of the see-and-do vacation with the relaxation that comes from spending the whole day in a deck chair. And, we really, really love the food.
We have also found that not every cruise is right for everyone. Here are a few tips for finding the right cruise for you:
Where Do You Want to Go?
Are you dreaming of a tropical getaway in the Caribbean or a scenic adventure in Alaska? If you are looking at a particular time of year for your cruise, that may limit the itineraries available. You can find warm-weather cruises at any time of year, but if you want to cruise the Caribbean, you will not find as many options during hurricane season. For obvious reasons, you will not find cruises to Alaska or Scandinavia in the winter.
Your port of departure may also affect your choice. If you live on the west coast and you want to cruise the Caribbean, then you will need to plan for a day of travel and a hotel at least one day before your cruise departs. As parents of young children who were left home with relatives, those extra days mattered to us. We have selected cruises that were near enough for us to fly in on the same day.
What Cruise Line is Best?
We have cruised on several different lines and have found that different cruise lines have different personalities and we enjoy our trip more when a ship’s personality matches ours. A young couple we met on our last cruise commented, “We like Celebrity because we are old at heart.” While you will find people of all ages on all cruise lines, Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean attract younger travelers and families. Cruise lines such as Celebrity, Princess and Holland America appeal more to older travelers. There are also some cruise lines such as Crystal and Silversea that cater to passengers who are willing to pay more for a higher level of service and quality.
We don’t go on cruises to make friends. While we have enjoyed meeting new people on our cruises, we want to know in advance that we can get a table for two on our romantic cruise. On some cruise lines, such as Carnival, you will be assigned to a table with others and you will dine with the same people at the same time for the entire cruise. If you are travelling with a group, that might be a good thing. If you intend to avoid the formal dining room and eat in the buffet, it might be irrelevant. However, we chose Norwegian and Celebrity cruise lines because they offer dining plans that allow you to arrive at the dining room any time and request a table for two.
Many people are hooked after their first cruise and become cruisers for life. Many people also become loyal to a particular cruise line and cruise lines reward that loyalty with special privileges for repeat cruisers. With a little planning, you can find the cruise that is right for you and make special memories that will last a lifetime.