How to Plan Your First Cruise
Planning your next vacation and considering trying out cruising but not sure where to start? Whether you're thinking about a Caribbean cruise with friends or a solo river cruise in Europe or an expedition cruise to Alaska, there is a cruise out there for you.
Here are 5 questions to help get you started in thinking about the cruise that's right for you:
#1. Where would you like to go and for how long?
Cruises can vary in length and time from as little as 2 day cruises to 21 + day cruises. For a first time cruise, 3 to 5 days is usually a good start to test the waters. However, you'll need to decide what works best for you. Additionally, where you'd like to go on your cruise may also dictate the length of time you'd be spending on a cruise ship. For instance, there are 2 day cruises to the Bahamas but a cruise can start around 7 to 9 days.
#2. What kind of experience would you like to have?
When you think of your ideal cruise experience, would you like to return home relaxed or spend time at a spa? Would you like a bunch of activities? Would you like to go on a once in a lifetime adventure? Are you thinking about a luxury experience with butler service or a more budget friendly experience? The kind of experience you want, can help you decide on the kind of cruise you should take. There are 50+ cruise line members of the Cruise Line International Association, which represent more than 95% of the global cruise capacity.
#3: What are some must haves for you on your cruise?
This is where you think about your deal breakers or things you refuse to live without. This may be a room with a window, butler service, all inclusive drinks, onboard spa or gym, onboard activities or even included shore excursions. There are many unique features on board cruise ships that can enhance your experience.
#4: Who is going with you? Or are you traveling solo?
Contrary to popular belief, there are many people that take cruises by themselves. Some cruise ships even offer onboard meet and greets for solo travel passengers. On the other hand, if there is a larger group of people going with you, you may be able to organize receptions onboard with just your group and access group incentives, such as a group rate or onboard incentives.
#5: When would you like to go?
The last but not least important thing to consider is when you would like to go. There are some cruise destinations that are seasonal. For instance, the Alaska cruise season runs from late April to September, The season in the Greek islands runs from May to late October and The Antarctic summer and cruise season begins in November and ends in March. Be sure to think about the "when" as you consider your destinations.
There are lots of factors that go into choosing your dream cruise. You may have heard about Carnival, Azamara or Norwegian but what about Holland America, Uniworld or Virgin Voyages? A travel agent, like me, can be a great asset with helping you figure out which cruises or even cruise line might best suit your needs.