Choosing a Cruise

So, you want to go on a cruise! It's exciting, it's fun and it's your way of enjoying the great life. But how do you make the choice of where to go, when and with whom? There are so many choices with respect to cruising nowadays that it can be very confusing. Here are a few tips to consider helping you decide which cruise is right for you.

Listed below are few examples of the types of cruise you may wish to take:

1. Mediterranean cruise

2. Caribbean cruise

3. an Alaskan cruise

4. a cruise down the Amazon or Panama Canal

5. a Transatlantic ocean crossing

6. South Pacific or Hawaiian Island cruise

7. River cruises (the fjords in Norway, the Danube in Europe, the Nile in Egypt, the Mississippi in United States)

8. Polar cruises to see the penguins in the Antarctic

9. Russian waterways cruises

10. Galapagos Island cruises

11. New Zealand or Australia

Each can be very appealing but are also very different.

1. The first thing to consider in taking one of these cruises is when you want to go-the time of the year can dictate the type of cruise. Some cruise ship lines do not offer cruises to the Mediterranean in the winter months, but transfer their ships to the warmer waters of the Caribbean. Alaskan cruises only run in certain months also due to weather conditions. Ocean crossing cruises (Transatlantic) take place only as the seasons change so that cruise ship companies can reposition their ships to match the high seasons' tourist industry.

2. You also have to decide on the length of your cruise. A typical choice is a 7-night cruise, but you can take cruises from 3-4 nights to over a month in length, or more. The length of your vacation time available may limit you, but taking a cruise for the first time may also be a consideration. Limiting your cruise to a manageable shorter cruise may help you decide whether a longer cruise at another time may be more advisable. In other words, do you get seasick? Do you like the variety of visiting different ports? Do you wish to simply stay at one destination and relax? Do you like the busy atmosphere of the many activities on a ship?

3. Next, the ports that you wish to visit can be a great part of which cruise is the right choice for you. Have you always wanted to visit Tortugas, the Bahamas or Cayman Islands? Here is your chance to get a taste of it. Make sure that one of your chosen destinations is on your cruise itinerary, and there are endless choices of various itineraries available. Cruises are great ways to experience various places. Then you can decide which destination you would like to see more of on a future vacation.

4. Another consideration in choosing a cruise is the amount of time you wish to be "At Sea". For a Transatlantic voyage you are at sea for many days at a time, which limits you to being within the confines of the ship at all times. This can be a bonus if you don't want the hustle and bustle of visiting different ports, but it can also be a downside if you want a lot of variety on your vacation. Some cruises offer very little time at sea, being in a different port every day, and this flurry of activity can be too overwhelming for some vacationers. I would recommend a bit of both-for a 7-night cruise a good happy medium would be 2 days at sea with the other days stopping at various ports of call.

5. Once you have narrowed down your choice of cruise to when and where you wish to visit, the next hardest choice is the cruise line and size of ship you want to use. The size of ship can dictate the cruise line, as some cruise lines offer significantly larger ships than others. Some cruise lines only use smaller, more intimate ships for smaller groups of people. Other cruise lines offer huge ships with passengers in the thousands. You must decide whether you like a small personal touch or like the larger groups. (We found that even on a larger ship, there were still areas where we could go to get away from the crowds. Crowding on the huge ships was not a problem at all.)