Dawn Reiss, a Travel + Leisure writer says there are 24 major cruise lines running over 160 ships on more than 7500 itineraries. Cruises vary in length from as little as three days to two weeks or longer, and they travel everywhere from tropical Caribbean islands to the frozen Alaskan wilderness to historic European cities. Ships may be small and intimate or nearly as large as a floating city, with amenities such as surfing, rock wall climbing, specialty dining options and full-scale production shows. You must consider many factors when selecting the right cruise for your personal needs and taste.
Consider your previous cruise experience, if any, and your possible predisposition to sea sickness. Some people can cruise in rough waters with no ill effects, but others get queasy at the slightest motion. Consider choosing a shorter cruise if you have never cruised before or know you are prone to sea sickness. You will be in port most of the time on a short cruise. A larger, newer ship may also be better because of the advances made in stabilization.
Determine what you want to get out of your cruise. Some people sail for relaxation, but others want adventure or to absorb foreign culture. Cruises to tropical destinations are great for relaxing, and places such as Alaska, Costa Rica and Cozumel offer adventure and European itineraries to immerse you in Old World ambiance.
Consider the make-up of your cruise party. Kim Michele of TravelMuse.com states that each cruise line has its own personality, which needs to fit you and your companions. Adults traveling without children might prefer a smaller, more intimate ship that can dock at smaller ports, Reiss explains, but families might gravitate toward larger vessels full of kid-friendly activities such as ice skating and miniature golf.
Determine how much you can afford to spend on your cruise. After you have narrowed down your other priorities, see whether they can be accommodated by your budget. You may need to compromise by sailing during the value season rather than your preferred dates, Reiss advises, or choosing an older ship rather than the newest, most exciting vessel.
About the Author
Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with more than 20 years’ experience. She is also a mental health counselor and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as “The Writer,” “Animal Wellness,” “SuperVision,” “Bird Talk,” “SpeciaLiving” and “Twins.”