Anyone can have a great time on a cruise. But not every cruise is a good fit for every person. To find the cruise right for you, ask yourself these five questions before you book that trip.
No matter where you want to go - Alaska or South Africa, Iceland or Tahiti, Greece or Australia - there’s probably a ship to help get you there. Is the Panama Canal calling your name? Perhaps you want to see first-hand to see if the Leaning Tower of Pisa really does lean.
The embarkation port is also something to consider. You may have a particular city closer to where you live and would like to sail from there. Maybe there is a city you've always wanted to visit. Why not head to the port city a couple days early to explore it? It's like a bonus vacation.
Just check out all the options for embarkation cities for the Caribbean this month:
Different cruise lines and cruise ships really do have different "vibes". It is crucial to research different cruise lines to see which one best fits both your expectations of a vacation and your budget. Check the features offered on the ship. Some cater to active families with zip lines, water slides, and ice skating rinks. Other ships are traditionally elegant with fewer activities for kids. Some cruise lines are known to have a party-like atmosphere (cheaper) and others are known for luxury (pricier). If comfortable in a three-star hotel most cruise lines will exceed expectations. If a quiet five-star hotel is more your style many lines will be able to meet your needs but a higher end cruise line might be a better fit.
Cruising can be cheap and cruising can be expensive. One of the biggest misconceptions is that cruising is so expensive it’s out of reach of most travelers. Not true. Sales are frequent and sometimes offer pre-paid gratuities, beverage packages, or onboard credit. Great values in cruising can come from booking off-season cruises, booking very early, or booking last minute.
Hotels base pricing on a nightly per room basis; cruise pricing is a per person basis for the entire voyage. A third or fourth person within the same cabin may pay a lower per person price than passengers one and two.
Be aware of what amenities are included in the final cruise cost. Despite the add-on costs cruise vacations can be cheaper than land-based vacations.
Hotels typically have a few room types. A room could have two queen beds or one king bed or have extra space like found in a suite. A room near the elevator or an upper floor may be requested. All rooms have a window and sometimes there is a balcony or patio.
Cruise ship accommodations are different. On a cruise ship passengers can pick the exact cabin location long before sailing. The cruise line even provides the up-to-date availability online.
Not all cabins are created equal. The size, bed configuration, and the location on the ship can be important. Prone to seasickness? A cabin in the middle of the ship might be best. Claustrophobic? A cabin with a view of the outside world might be a better choice than an inside cabin without a window. A light sleeper won’t want to be underneath the nightclub.
Twin beds are standard on most ships but can be converted into a queen bed. While some cabins can accommodate two people and others can fit more, a cabin holding up to four passengers has upper berths attached to the ceiling or wall. The beds fold down to create bunk beds. If you have three or four people traveling together, be forewarned.
No matter which cruise you choose, make sure you've done your research ahead of time!