Planning your next cruise vacation can be very confusing. Cruises have continued to evolve into more than a means of island hopping through the Caribbean. With a vast number of itineraries and more innovative ships setting sail, it may be the right time to try a cruise. But who can go through each individual cruise line and know if they made the right choice?
Here are some quick tips when planning your next cruise.
Where would you like to go?
The first question you should ask yourself is, “Where do I want to go?’. The Caribbean has been the most popular cruise destination because it’s great for families, couples, and singles. There isn’t much pressure to go off the ship. Most cruisers can enjoy either relaxing on or off the ship. Do you tend to get cabin fever or maybe love to explore the city? You might want to pick an itinerary in Europe or Asia, where taking tours and sightseeing is a must! For more unique ports, try Southeast Asia and Australia which are popular during the winter months.
When do you plan to travel?
Most vacations are planned around school schedules, family, and holidays. So during the planning process consider destinations with year-round weather such as Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Europe and Alaskan cruises are in season during the summer months between June and August, where the temperatures are more favorable for tourists. However, traveling during the shoulder season (May or September) can offer major bargains and be more appealing than in the high season (June – August).
A major misconception is that you can travel any itinerary at any time. This is not true. Itineraries have seasons. For example: Your 3-4 day cruises are available during the summer months. More popular itineraries are available during peak seasons. This can have a huge influence on which cruise line you choose. During the winter months, cruises have longer itineraries with more ports of calls to attract travelers. In the summer months expect shorter itineraries around 4, 5 and 7 day cruises.
Pick your cruise personality
No two cruise lines are alike and when choosing you must understand the differences. Every cruise line targets a specific market and bases its design, ambiance, entertainment and food around it. For instance, for families and travelers who value entertainment, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian tops the list with extravagant Broadway type shows and an assortment of activities onboard. For those who aim to relax and rejuvenate during their vacation, Princess Cruise line focuses on enrichment and a spa type atmosphere, while Celebrity Cruises are more for foodies and adventurous people.
Know your budget
This seems to be one of the hardest questions for travelers to answer but has the most relevance when choosing your next vacation. Cruises have the best value when being compared to land tours because the accommodations, meals and transportation are included in the price. Added benefits included but often not mentioned are kids programs and babysitting, complimentary classes for dancing, yoga and other fitness seminars.
Getting the most value out of your dollar is important to everyone especially when on vacation. A simple rule when planning is calculate how much you will spend per day per person for food + entertainment + lodging multiplied by the number of nights you want to travel equals your budget.
Making the right choice
Make sure to talk to your travel agent or do your research before booking your cruise. This ensures you are getting the experience that you’ve been looking forward to. Just remember, there is a cruise line for every type of passenger. Happy Sailings.