How to pick your next Cruise

When planning your next cruise, how do you choose a cruise line? There are many to pick from - Carnival, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean to name a few. Are some better than others? Here are some distinguishing factors to help you decide.

  • Ship - Cruise lines continue to build larger vessels with more amenities. Cruise ships now have ice skating rinks, rock walls, basketball courts, putt- putt golf courses, ice skating rinks, pools, water slides and more. The bigger the vessel the more room for amenities. Also, does the age of the ship make a difference to you? Some ships are many years old and may not seem to be "up to date" for some people's liking. If you're the type that likes to try out the newest ship, it will narrow your choices considerably. Researching the size and age of the ship as well as the ships "extra's" will also help you decide.

  • Itinerary - Cruise lines have private islands that others don't travel to. Some travel to parts of the world that others don't go to. Check the itineraries of all the cruise lines and compare the different locations that they visit. Compare reviews of itineraries online. Previous travelers will let you know which trips are the best and others that aren't so good. You may also want to consider taking a cruise where a cruise ship relocates from one part of the world to another. These "relocating" trips are when a cruise ship is located in another part of the world. For example, a ship may be moved from the Mediterranean Sea to the Caribbean Sea. The relocating trip may take up to two weeks. Keep in mind that many times relocating trips don't take ports of call.

  • Port - This may save you an air fare if there is a port close to where you live. Cruise lines sail from certain ports, so this can help narrow your search if you want to save on air fare. Major ports have sailings all year and are home to a number of cruise lines. Smaller ports may only have sailings part of the years and may only service one cruise line.

  • Time of Year - This can eliminate some choices, since some cruise lines may not sail at certain ports of call during your time frame. For example, trips to eastern Canada or Alaska are primarly during the warm months times of year. During colder months the weather is too stormy for ships to visit these locations.

  • Age of clientele - Check with you travel agent on the average age of the clientele on your cruise. Different ports and different itineraries favor a younger or older crowd. Typically younger crowds favor Caribbean trips. Older crowds tend to be found more on the Alaska and eastern Canada trips.

  • Cost - There is actually a large range of cruise prices. Some cater to high end clientele, others to main stream cruisers, where you may be able to find a good deal. If you are willing to take more or a risk with the weather, a lower fare may be found. Cheaper fares may be found in the Caribbean during hurricane season. During hurricane season, a cruise ship will travel to an alternate port of call if the weather is predicted to be to rough.
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