One of the main questions I am asked is, “how do you pick your travel locations and cruises?” And of course, that answer is never as easy as you’d imagine. So for today’s 10 on Tuesday, I have compiled 10 questions to ask yourself when it comes to picking your next cruise. Enjoy!
10.) Where do you want to travel?
The Caribbean? Barcelona? Alaska? You can basically cruise anywhere in the world, so know your likes and narrow down the region.
9.) What’s your budget?
Whether you want to spend $179, under $500, under $1,000 or under $5,000, there are values to be found at every price point. Sign up for each cruise lines email notifications; you’ll routionely find deals for reduced deposits, special sailings and even state residency rates. Just remember, you get what you pay for!
Check out Paul Gauguin’s 2-week sale here: http://www.pgcruises.com/2-week-sale
8.) How important is a new boat to you?
I cannot tell you how often people knock Carnival. “The boat was ratty and old.” Yes, because you paid close to nothing and you were on a boat from the early nineties. It’s a booze cruise!!! Nothing else.
All the other cruise lines have those “ratty” ships as well. I repeat– they are NOT cruise line specific. There are many beautiful boats in all the cruise lines, including Carnival. The newer ships are certainly the better boats. Also, the cruise industry tends to put their best and most accomplished staff on their flagship vessels.
7.) When do you want to sail?
Are the kids out for summer? Is October your down month? Itching to spend that tax return money? All of these things control price. Also, make sure you watch for hurricane season in the Caribbean. As a passenger in the middle of Hurricane Katrina, I’ve learned my lesson about the Caribbean between June 1st and November.
6.)What’s your cruise style?
5.) Do you prefer museums or sandy beaches?
Many lines offer both options. You can sail from New York City to Bermuda and back, allowing for world class museums and breath-taking vistas. You don’t have to sacrifice one for another. Another European option is the cruise from Barcelona and includes Nice, and Rome. You can take in an educational experience in the morning and then have your toes in the sand by afternoon.
4.) How important is proximity?
I live in Houston. There are many awesome options leaving from Galveston (including the Carnival Magic which is new and I’m dying to see!), that allow me to leave my door, drive to the port and park for the week. No planes, no delays, no extra expenses on top of the cruise fare. It’s think-less travel at it’s finest. If you live in Houston, New Orleans, LA, New York, Baltimore, and basically anywhere in Florida, you have a world class cruise ship within driving distance.
On the other hand, we are taking the Paul Gauguin again this year. That requires a 3.5 hour flight to LAX and then an 8 hour flight to Papeete. It’s A LOT of travel but totally worth it.
3.) What is your age demographic?
Are you looking for a quiet, peaceful cruise or a rowdy, casino-frenzy crowd? The cruise line AND time frame can dictate what you’re getting. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney and others are known for more kids and young adults, especially from March- August. On the other hand, Oceania, PG, Celebrity and other luxury brands appeal to an older group and also offer options for lectures, cooking classes and other age appropriate options. Of course, that’s not to say that these two options aren’t often intermingled on the various lines. I’m just suggesting a general analysis.
2.) Do crowds freak you out?
If so, stay away from the mega ships. I’m talking about 5,000 people on the sea. You can expect to find lines at the buffet, tenders and you have to put your towel out early on a chair to have a seat around the pool. However, you have some incredible amenities on these mega ships– ice skating rinks, golf courses, boardwalks. They are truly floating cities!
The smaller ships boast crowds around 300 or less and are wonderful in a special way. You meet fellow passengers and actually remember their names and faces for the trip. But be prepared to sacrifice some of the extra amenities you find on the larger boats. Things like hot tubs, multiple restaurants and specific cabin types may not be offered.
1.) How many days?
From 3 nights to a full week… heck, even a cruise around the world in 180 days. If you have the time, they have the itinerary for you!
So the moral of the story is, don’t settle. You can see some truly amazing destinations by water. The best answer I can give is know what you want in a vacation. Once you have that figured out, the rest is easy!
Check back later this week for my review on The Serenade of the Seas from Royal Caribbean!