“I tried cruising once; I don’t think it’s for me.” This is usually said after accompanying a friend on a cruise that you had no say in choosing. Well, here’s the caveat. Those who decide they didn’t enjoy their cruise were most likely on the wrong ship!
So, how do you choose a cruise that’s right for you?
Well, you start by getting out your magnifying glass. You are about to enter the realm of details and hidden conditions that often sound like this:
If you book this promotion, you can’t combine it with other offers. Or, if you don’t buy the air package, you can’t have the transfers.
Here are some tips to help you through the maze.
Supersized Ships Are Their Own Destination
Most folks 45+ would rather do their own root canal than board one of those enormous ships. If you don’t like a lot of people and commotion, what are you doing on a ship with 2,000-plus passengers?
Those supersized ships are great for families and partiers because of the bells and whistles: waterslides, entertainment, free flowing booze, shopping, casinos, and much more! But if you aren’t going to use all the toys, why are you paying for them?
Hidden Gems: Boutique Ships
Size really does matter! When I ask people to name some cruise lines, they usually only come up with two or three they have seen in TV commercials.
If you do a little investigation, you will be pleasantly surprised to find many boutique cruise ships catering to as few as 22 and no greater than 1,000 sophisticated guests.
The misconception is that they are too expensive. But in reality, you are merely paying for most everything upfront so no credit card surprises later.
Those Magnificent Masted Ships
For the adventurous, masted ships are a fantastic alternative to the ocean cruise ships and large yachts. They accommodate a few hundred sophisticated to fun loving passengers – there are different styles for everyone.
Those who suffer sea sickness can rest assured that the stabilizers on these ships eliminate the issue.
Tendering or Pier Disembarkment
Want to cruise right under London Bridge or dock at the San Basilio pier in Venice? Or, perhaps you are just looking for a floating hotel so you can enjoy the ports of call? If that’s the case, you’ll have to consider the size of the ship.
Small ships sail right into those little ports, giving you the opportunity to spend more time experiencing village life, local people, and culture.
The large ships have no choice but to dock at the huge cruise terminals and, in some cases, have been banned from docking altogether which means longer lines for tendering.
Make Your Cruise All About You
There is no such thing as ‘all inclusive’. But some ships come closer than others. Make a list of amenities that you want included: premium alcohol, immersive shore excursions, airport transfers, gratuities, themes (regional wines, entertainment, golf), educational lectures, and speakers.
Can We Bring the Grandkids?
You brought the grandkids along and they’re complaining there is nothing to do. However, the brochure said the cruise was kid-friendly.
Well, that doesn’t necessarily translate into kids’ programs and activities. It just means they are welcome onboard. If you don’t want the grandkids with you all the time, make sure activities and excursions for the young ones have been included.
Location, Location, Location
Experienced cruisers have their favourites. If you have difficulty walking, it can seem like miles to restaurants if your cabin is on the other end.
Why do many guests prefer midship or stern? Higher decks mean you feel more movement; lower and inside cabins less. Passengers gathering near elevators and staircases create extra noise for the adjacent cabins.
Last Minute No Longer Exists
The time to book is well in advance. Booking last minute usually means undesirable cabins that ships are trying to unload. Early booking bonuses are now the offer of choice. You get special promotions and amenities, a good selection of staterooms, and cabin locations.
In future posts, I will share with you tips on choosing river and expedition cruises.
I hope this post has you re-thinking ocean cruising.
What kind of cruise have you been on and what was the experience like? What other tips or experiences would you like to share about choosing the best cruise? I’d love to hear them! Join the conversation.