1. Ship Size
In the cruise industry, “bigger and better” has become the trend. The bigger ships allow for more bells and whistles, beckoning to guests to experience new and improved features. However, bigger isn’t always better. Big ships may offer more fun activities, but their size prevents them from approaching many smaller ports. The bigger ships also pull larger crowds on the pool deck (there’s only so much space on the top decks!) and more guests at check in, on tenders, etc. Therefore, don’t assume bigger is better. Be sure to weigh the features for the trade-offs they provide.
The basics are always included in your cruise fare: your room, meals, and entertainment onboard. However, what about the other aspects of your cruise? Wi-fi, gratuities, beverages? Many cruise lines are now offering ways to add those in at a savings in advance. But what about other components such as shore excursions, transfers, and flights? Some cruise lines include those as well, providing a great value for the price tag.
3. Dining Options
How many restaurants are included? Will you enjoy having one main dining room and 1 buffet to eat at each day, or would you prefer more variety? How about specialty dining venues for an even more refined experience? Are they included, or at an additional cost? For foodies, are the restaurants Michelin starred, or at least offer menus curated by top chefs?
4. Stateroom Size
Not all inside staterooms are created equal, for sure, nor are all balcony rooms. Having 10-30 more feet in a stateroom can make a world of difference. Is there one bathroom, or a split bath, for when multiple people are getting ready?
5. Ship Vibe
Is it casual or formal, budget or luxury, geared toward active families or escaping in intimate luxury? Is the ship geared toward a certain age group? Each cruise line, and vessel within it, has its own personality, so it’s important to find the one you will enjoy most. This may change from cruise to cruise, based on your travel party and goals, so don’t be afraid to switch up your cruise lines.
6. Entertainment Offerings
What are the shows like onboard the ship? Family friendly, geared towards adults, classical music or Broadway style productions? Are there even mainstage shows at all, or smaller performances by local artists? Do the activities feature educational sessions, cooking demonstrations, or dance lessons? Does that matter to you?
7. Ship Features
How would you like to spend your time onboard, and will the ship offer those features? Are there pools, waterslides, rock climbing walls, a lawn club, submarine (yes, submarine!), test kitchen, comedy club, casino, escape room, art studio, surf simulator, sports court, pickleball (the newest cruise trend)….the list goes on.
8. Ports of Call
Will the majority of ports be anchored, or will some tenders be required? This is especially important if someone in your party has mobility issues, as tenders can be tricky. Would you like to hit the big cities, or more off the beaten path destinations? Will the ports allow you to relax and unwind or have you hustling to see and do it all? (Both are good, but the proper expectation for a particular vacation is important.) How many sea days are there for relaxing onboard the ship and enjoying its features?
9. Traditional Vs. Expedition Cruising
How about getting away from the traditional ocean cruise and take an expedition cruise instead? The focus is on immersive experiences and education, rather than entertainment. Learn about the flora and fauna from a guest lecturer then explore a destination up close in zodiacs.
10. Ocean vs. River
When many folks hear the word cruise, they automatically think of ocean cruises. However, river cruising has soared in popularity in recent years. It has expanded from the Rhine and Danube to all around the world. I’ll dive deeper into that subject another time. But for now, remember to keep it as an option when considering which option might be the best fit for you.
Clearly, there is much to consider when booking your cruise vacation. Thankfully, you’re not alone. As a cruise specialist, it’s my job to help find the right fit for YOU based on all of these factors. I begin any vacation search with a dialogue about what is most important to you on your voyage, so we match up your dreams with the best cruise line, vessel, and itinerary for you.
When you’re ready to begin planning your next cruise adventure, let’s work together to make it the best experience possible. Click here to set up a free call to get started planning your cruise vacation. I’ll look forward to it!
Lisa is the travel loving, animal adoring, Mickey Mouse hugging owner of Dreams Delivered Travel.