There are more than 160 ships in the brochures of the 24 major cruise lines and more than 7,500 itineraries, from Alaska to Zanzibar. Among so many offers it is difficult to know which option to choose but if you want to find your ideal cruise, these tips can help you evaluate the different options and choose the journey that best suits your tastes and expectations.
Tips for choosing a good cruise
1. Where to go on the cruise
Choose the destination first and then the boat. Alaska and the Caribbean are two classic destinations, but cruise lines are adding new itineraries to surprising places like Asia, the Indian Ocean or South America.
2. When to go on a cruise
It is convenient to avoid the dates of high season; there are more offers and a mild autumn day can be much more pleasant than roasting in the Mediterranean sun in the middle of August. In popular family destinations, like Alaska, you get better deals on dates when the kids have class.
3. With which company to book
Choose the cruise company and travel companions that best suit your personality. There are more informal lines than others. Some companies have dress codes and set times for meals; others are more suited to the needs of children, etc. Ask your travel agency for information and check the opinions of users on Cruisecritic.com.
4. The total cost of the cruise
It is not enough to consult the daily price of a cabin and multiply it by the number of nights the voyage lasts. Consult questions such as the price of the passage to and from the port of origin, other additional costs such as alcohol (unless the trip is all-inclusive) and the prices of shore excursions.
5. Plan ahead
It is never too early to start planning your cruise. Many companies offer discounts on bookings made well in advance and as reservations increase, prices go up.
6. The ship
Size matters, because it can dictate the itinerary. Smaller vessels (up to 138 passengers) can dock in smaller ports and offer a more personalized experience. They are also usually better for nature-oriented journeys, such as Antarctica or the Galapagos. Disadvantages: more limited leisure and dining options.
7. Cabin type
Take the itinerary into account when choosing or not a cabin with a balcony. In Atlantic cruises, where you can only see the sea, it is not important, but in other areas such as Alaska or the Mediterranean, the views are everything.
8. Plan flights to the place of departure / arrival with some margin
Flight delays are becoming more frequent and unless the flight is booked through the cruise company, the ship will not wait, so it is advisable to arrive at least one day before the cruise departure point. On the other hand, cruise ship extensions are becoming more and more popular; It is convenient to have a few days of margin in case in the end you want to extend it a little.
9. Before boarding
Plan the activities you want to do on board, there are countless excursions and activities, but the most interesting are the first to run out of places. Sometimes you can make reservations in advance and even enjoy offers for booking in port.
10. Consult an expert
Professional advice is often indispensable. To consult the best specialized cruise agencies, visit the following address: travelandleisure.com/alist. For a more extensive list see: cruising.org.
Source: Travel and Leisure