How to choose the right cruise

Cruise Vacation Planning Advice

advice > commentary

how to choose a cruise

With all the ship choices and worldwide itineraries, choosing the right cruise can be daunting, especially your first time. A little self-reflection and time spent outlining your perfect vacation can help you narrow in on the ideal cruise vacation.

The single determining factor in finding your perfect cruise vacation is you. If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, booking on a large, active ship like the Oasis of the Seas will leave you needing a vacation from your vacation. Before beginning your search, ask, “what is it that you want from your vacation?”

When my husband and I selected our last cruise, the dining experience was something we weighed heavily. The onboard cuisine had to have a solid reputation for being delicious from the buffet to the dining room. We spent our port of call in Jamaica scouring Ocho Rios for the most authentic Jamaican jerk chicken, ackee and salt fish, and Jamaican patties.

But the question my grandma asked? “How was the shopping? Did you get any good deals?” She loves hunting for jewelry savings, but bargaining with the merchants in port was at the bottom of what we wanted to do on our vacation.

The motto: Know thyself. Make your list of priorities and use that to guide the next step in finding the perfect cruise: research.

To make the most of your time onboard, you need to research the cruise lines to find the best match for your cruising personality. If you’re looking for a vibrant onboard social scene, then look for the cruise lines that offer nonstop activities. But if you find large crowds tiring after a while, you might prefer smaller or mid-size vessels such as Oceania or Holland America. A cruise needing to please the whole family is better served by lines like Disney, Carnival, and Norwegian. Should you be on the hunt for the ultimate in relaxation, you know to investigate spa packages and cruise lines with special spa accommodations. Use your list of vacation wants to help pinpoint the cruise lines that cater to your needs.

Finally, keep your budget in mind. It is possible to cruise without breaking the bank, but keep in mind different cruise lines provide different amenities for their price point. Some cruise lines are all-inclusive down to the gratuities, while on others you’ll need to purchase a special day pass to visit the adults-only retreat. Decide what you are willing to spend and look into services provided for the room price. Reserve some of your budget for shore excursions, specialty dining, and beverage packages.

For budget-minded cruisers, save money by following your selected cruise lines on social media. Cruise lines offer deals throughout the year for reduced bookings, onboard credits, free beverage packages, and more.

In today’s cruise world, there is cruise line and a ship for everybody. All it takes is a little digging to find the right match.

Back to the top


Related Links

Cruising Q&A
Cruising Advice