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Which is the right cruise for you? If you’ve never been on a cruise or maybe you have and are planning your next one, what do you use to determine which is the right one.
As fairly experienced cruisers; okay we’ve been on a few but we’re no experts, I can tell you not all cruises are the same. Currently we are in the process of picking our next cruise and these are just few of the determining factors for us.
Cruises have some amazing ports of call they stop at. Being able to see and visit multiple countries in one 7-day vacation is a huge attraction to many people. So, where do you want to go?
Caribbean (West side and East side, Southern )
Maybe time and money aren’t much of a factor and you link more than one cruise together. I know a gentleman who cruised from Japan to India; he linked two cruises back to back and took 30 days.
Boat size is a big consideration for a few reasons, and depending on what is more important to you it may have an impact on the destination.
Smaller ships will have a more intimate feel, less people on board can keep the lines for events and services shorter. Smaller ships may; however, not have the top billed entertainment of some of the mega ships built in the last few years.
Over the past few years ships have been getting bigger and bigger. Cruise lines will, of course, schedule the top entertainers and shows for these newer ships. Where on a mega ship you may be able to see Blue Man Group, on a smaller ship it may be a less known (or not known at all) comedian or entertainer.
Larger ships are truly floating cities with some topping over 5,000 passengers. They tend to have more; well everything. You find more pools, more restaurants, more recreational activities; such as rock climbing, observation towers, water slides, ice skating, and golf.
Of course the more people the longer the lines will tend to be in popular areas; such as the buffet, and obtaining seats in select restaurants and shows, which could be difficult. Pay close attention when booking your cruise when the dates open for reservations at specialty restaurants and shows and be ready to call right away to get what you’d like.
Ship size could also impact amenities such as child care availability, ports of call, and length of the cruise.
Are you interested in knitting, 5K runs, a huge Oprah fan, or maybe Marvel Comics? These are just a fraction of the themed cruises you can find. Celebrities, bands, musicians, and even non-profits all have had fans pack cruise ships for events.
In 2018-2019 some current themed cruises you can find are Walking Dead Stalker Cruise, Fashion Cruise, Star Trek Fans, Poker, and Cooking at Sea. You see virtually anything you’re interested in you could find, and this is a great way to meet others interested in dressing up like a zombie just like you!
Do we bring the kids a cruise?
Yes our children are grown now, although there are times I think they forget that fact. Some cruise lines are dedicated to kids, such as Disney Cruise Lines, others although they may not state children are not allowed you just don’t tend to find as many kids on board. There are; however, some cruises that are adult only.
Adult only cruises tend to be more expensive but they are out there. If you’re a single traveling alone or even a couple looking for some romantic alone time; you might consider that 9 year old belly flopping into the pool 54 times in a row a bit much. Just watch out you don’t book the Nudist Adult Only Cruise, unless you don’t mind the exposure! (sorry I had to say it)
This isn’t to say cruising isn’t for kids. We had a wonderful time on our last cruise celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary with our family. Balancing a 2 year old is difficult but extra hands always help, and the number of multi-generations vacationing together has increased over the past 10 years.
Plan ahead, know the age appropriate activities available for your children, and please keep the other passengers in mind. No one minds children present, unless behavior impacts others enjoyment. Everyone paid to have a great time, lets all enjoy it, from the youngest to the oldest.
Time of Year & Costs
Depending on the time of year you want to head out to sea could determine your destinations. Bermuda cruises are usually scheduled starting in May, if you were hoping to get there during Spring Break you will have to consider other locations.
Tying in time of year and costs together as these two will impact each other. If you are considering a Spring Break cruise be prepared for higher rates and less incentives or specials being offered. Economics 101, supply and demand.
We are currently scheduling another cruise and when discussing what we wanted Scott and I had a few factors to consider. We really like the entertainment and “night life” on the ship, and for us a larger ship provides what we are looking for. We understand that comes with some draw backs, but for us it’s out weighed by the great entertainment, ports of call, specialty restaurants, and some times even the service.
One past cruise we were disappointed that the entertainment was not the top billed shows we were used to seeing on larger ships. We found ourselves with nothing but the casino for entertainment and not being gamblers, this had little appeal and left us disappointed.
As you can guess for this cruise boat size is a big factor. The time of year we plan to go (February, early March) should be prior to spring break and allow us a ship not too full of children, but some, which also adds some life to the atmosphere.
Our destination isn’t as big a factor this time around. The time of year we’re traveling the choices aren’t as varied, and a 7 day availability due to our schedule narrows our choices considerably. We love the Mexican ports and tend to lean in that direction for our choices.
One last thing I’d like to mention, is last minute cruises. If you have the ability to leave in a very short window (2 – 5 weeks) you might be able to get a great rate. If you’ve cruised before and have a loyalty number check with your cruise line for any specials, or on the discount websites that run last minute cruises. You may find a great rate, a room upgrade for the same price, or maybe some on board credit that would make it worth it.
I’d love to hear how you pick your cruise, where you’ve been and where you may be going to next. Once make your choice, come back and read 11 things to pack for your cruise.
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Donna Martorano is a lifestyle and travel writer for Donna Unbound. A true believer in age is just number, and slowing down is not a requirement. Her passions are family, teaching other women how to shoot and the importance of self - protection. She's enjoying re-learning what it's like to be a couple again with her high school sweetheart of 31 years. Their family of consists of two beautiful daughters, a wonderful son-in-law, and two sweet grand daughters; as well as 3 cats who keep them laughing.