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How To Select A Cruise


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Catherina Sexton



Cruising is a popular vacation choice for many travelers, offering a unique and exciting way to explore different destinations while enjoying the luxury and comfort of a floating resort. Whether you are a first-time cruiser or a seasoned sailor, selecting the right cruise can make all the difference in ensuring a memorable and enjoyable experience. When it comes to choosing a cruise, there are several factors to consider. From the cruise line and ship to the destination, itinerary, cabin type, onboard amenities, dining options, and even budget, each choice can greatly impact your overall satisfaction. It’s essential to do thorough research and understand your preferences before making a decision. In this article, we will guide you through the process of selecting a cruise that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations. We’ll explore the key factors to consider and provide valuable tips on researching cruise lines and ships, analyzing destination and itinerary options, evaluating cabin types and onboard amenities, assessing dining and entertainment choices, budgeting for your cruise, and reading reviews and recommendations. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to make an informed decision and start planning an incredible cruise vacation. So, let’s dive in and discover how to select the perfect cruise for your dream getaway!


Factors to Consider Before Selecting a Cruise

Before embarking on your cruise adventure, it’s important to take several factors into account to ensure you choose the right cruise for your preferences and needs. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind: 1. Duration: How long are you planning to be on the cruise? Some cruises last a few days, while others can span several weeks. Consider your available vacation time and choose a cruise that fits within that timeframe. 2. Budget: Determine your budget and evaluate your financial comfort zone. Cruises can vary significantly in price, depending on factors such as cruise lines, cabin types, and itineraries. Remember to factor in additional costs such as gratuities, excursions, and onboard activities. 3. Cruise Line: Research different cruise lines and understand their unique offerings and target audience. Each cruise line has a distinct style, entertainment options, dining experiences, and onboard amenities. Consider your preferences and find a cruise line that aligns with your interests. 4. Ship Size: Do you prefer a large ship with a wide range of activities and amenities, or would you rather sail on a smaller, more intimate vessel? Larger ships often offer more entertainment options, while smaller ships provide a more personalized experience. 5. Destination: Consider the destination you want to explore. Do you prefer tropical islands, Mediterranean cities, or Alaskan glaciers? Research various destinations and choose a cruise that visits the places you’ve always dreamed of experiencing. 6. Itinerary: Examine the cruise itinerary and determine if it includes the ports and activities that interest you. Some cruises focus on relaxation and beach visits, while others offer cultural and historical excursions. 7. Cabin Type: Evaluate the different cabin options available, such as interior, oceanview, balcony, or suite. Consider your preferences for space, natural light, and access to outdoor areas. 8. Amenities: Take into account the onboard amenities that are important to you. Do you desire a spa, fitness center, pool, casino, or specialty restaurants? Some ships even offer unique features like water parks, go-kart tracks, and Broadway-style shows. 9. Family-Friendly: If you are traveling with children, look for cruises that offer family-friendly activities and facilities. Many cruise lines provide dedicated kids’ clubs, babysitting services, and age-appropriate entertainment. 10. Health and Safety: Consider the health and safety measures implemented by the cruise line. Research their protocols for hygiene, sanitation, and medical facilities to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Keep these factors in mind as you begin researching and planning your cruise. Each decision you make will contribute to a personalized and unforgettable vacation. By understanding your preferences and needs, you’ll be well on your way to selecting the perfect cruise for your dream getaway.


Researching Cruise Lines and Ships

Once you have determined the factors that are important to you in a cruise, the next step is to research different cruise lines and ships to find the best fit for your preferences. Here are some tips to help you in the process: 1. Read Reviews: Start by reading reviews from fellow travelers. Websites like TripAdvisor and Cruise Critic provide valuable insights and feedback on various cruise lines and ships. Pay attention to the overall ratings, as well as specific comments regarding service, cleanliness, entertainment, and food. 2. Consider Reputation: Take note of the reputation of the cruise line. Some cruise lines are known for their luxurious experiences, while others cater to specific demographics or offer a more casual atmosphere. Research their history, awards, and customer satisfaction ratings to get a sense of their overall quality. 3. Explore Ship Amenities: Look into the amenities offered on different ships. Check if they have the facilities and activities that match your interests. If you enjoy a particular type of entertainment, such as live shows or water parks, make sure the ship you choose offers those features. 4. Specialized Interests: If you have specialized interests, such as culinary experiences, wellness programs, or adventure activities, research which cruise lines cater to those interests. Some cruise lines offer special theme cruises or partnerships with celebrity chefs or wellness brands. 5. Check Cabin Options: Review the different cabin categories available on each ship. Take note of the size, amenities, and location of the cabins. Consider your preferences for natural light, balcony access, and proximity to amenities. 6. Itineraries: Examine the itineraries offered by each cruise line. Check the ports of call, the duration of each stop, and the excursions available. Make sure the destinations align with your interests and offer the activities and experiences you desire. 7. Accessibility: If you or someone in your travel group has special accessibility needs, research which cruise lines and ships are equipped to accommodate those requirements. Check for wheelchair accessibility, accessible cabins, and other necessary amenities. 8. Travel Agent: Consider consulting a travel agent specializing in cruises. They can provide expert advice, help you narrow down your options, and assist with booking the best cruise for your needs. They may also have access to exclusive deals and discounts. Remember to take your time and compare different options. Each cruise line and ship has its unique characteristics, and the research phase allows you to find the one that aligns perfectly with your preferences and expectations. By thoroughly researching cruise lines and ships, you can make an informed decision and ensure that your cruise experience exceeds your expectations. So, gather information, read reviews, and choose a cruise line and ship that will offer you an unforgettable journey at sea.


Destination and Itinerary Options

One of the most exciting aspects of selecting a cruise is choosing the destination and itinerary. The world is filled with captivating ports of call, each offering unique experiences and attractions. Here are some tips to help you make the best decision: 1. Research Popular Destinations: Start by researching popular cruise destinations. Consider regions like the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Alaska, Northern Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. Learn about the highlights and attractions of each destination to help narrow down your choices. 2. Consider Your Interests: Think about your interests and the experiences you want to have. Are you interested in historical sites, cultural immersion, adventure activities, wildlife encounters, or simply relaxing on beautiful beaches? Choose a destination that aligns with your passions. 3. Duration and Itinerary: Evaluate the duration of the cruise and the itinerary offered. Some cruises focus on a specific region, while others may visit multiple countries or continents. Consider the duration of each stop and the activities available at each port of call. 4. Season and Weather: Take into account the season and weather conditions of your desired destination. Some destinations have specific seasons that offer the best weather or certain events and festivals. Ensure that the timing aligns with your preferences. 5. Off-The-Beaten-Path: If you want a more unique and unconventional experience, consider cruises that visit lesser-known or off-the-beaten-path destinations. These cruises often offer a more intimate and immersive experience away from crowded tourist hotspots. 6. Excursions and Activities: Research the excursions and activities available at each port of call. Look for opportunities to explore landmarks, immerse yourself in local culture, try new cuisines, or engage in adventure activities like snorkeling, hiking, or zip-lining. 7. Accessibility and Mobility: Consider the accessibility and mobility requirements of each destination. Some ports may have limited infrastructure for people with mobility challenges. Ensure that the destinations can accommodate any specific needs you may have. 8. Multi-Stop vs. Single Port: Decide whether you prefer a cruise with multiple stops or one that focuses on a single port. Multi-stop itineraries allow you to explore a variety of destinations, while single-port cruises give you more time to immerse yourself in a particular location. Remember that the destination and itinerary you choose will greatly influence the overall experience of your cruise. Take the time to research and consider your options, ensuring that you select a cruise that will take you to fascinating places and fulfill your travel aspirations. Whether you want to lounge on the pristine beaches of the Caribbean, explore ancient ruins in the Mediterranean, or witness breathtaking wildlife in Alaska, there is a cruise and itinerary out there to suit your desires. So, explore the possibilities, find your perfect destination, and get ready to embark on an incredible voyage!


Cabin Types and Onboard Amenities

Selecting the right cabin type and onboard amenities is crucial to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable cruise experience. Here are some key points to consider when making these choices: 1. Cabin Types: Cruise ships offer a range of cabin types to suit different preferences and budgets. The most common types include interior cabins, oceanview cabins, balcony cabins, and suites. Interior cabins are the most affordable, while suites offer more space and luxury. Consider your personal preferences for natural light, outdoor access, and cabin size when making your decision. 2. Location: Take note of the cabin’s location on the ship. Cabins closer to the center of the ship tend to experience less motion, making them ideal for those who are prone to seasickness. Higher deck cabins may offer better views but could also be susceptible to noise from pool decks or late-night entertainment venues. 3. Amenities: Research the onboard amenities offered by the cruise line. Check if they have features that are important to you, such as swimming pools, fitness centers, spas, specialty restaurants, theaters, or shopping areas. Some ships even offer unique amenities like water slides, rock climbing walls, or sports courts. 4. Dining Options: Evaluate the dining options available on the ship. Most cruises offer a main dining room with a sit-down, multi-course meal experience. Additionally, many ships have specialty restaurants with diverse cuisines for an additional fee. Some cruise lines also offer buffet-style dining, casual eateries, and 24-hour room service. 5. Entertainment: Look into the entertainment offerings on the ship. Many cruises feature live shows, musical performances, comedy clubs, and even Broadway-style productions. Some ships have cinemas, casinos, game rooms, or dedicated spaces for dancing and nightlife. 6. Spa and Wellness: If relaxation and wellness are important to you, consider the onboard spa facilities. Look for features like saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, and a variety of spa treatments. Some ships even have fitness centers with state-of-the-art equipment and fitness classes. 7. Child-Friendly Amenities: If you are traveling with children, check for amenities catering to their needs. Many cruise lines offer kids’ clubs, splash pools, water parks, and age-specific activities and entertainment. Look for features that will keep your little ones entertained and engaged throughout the journey. 8. Wi-Fi and Connectivity: Assess the ship’s connectivity options. Some cruises provide Wi-Fi access throughout the ship, while others offer internet packages for an additional fee. Consider your connectivity needs if you plan to stay connected during your cruise. By carefully considering the cabin type and onboard amenities, you can ensure that your cruise experience is tailored to your preferences and expectations. Take your time to research the options available on different ships and choose the ones that align with your desires for a comfortable and enriching voyage. Remember that the right cabin and onboard amenities can greatly enhance your cruise experience, providing you with a relaxing and enjoyable retreat as you sail to exciting destinations. So, explore the choices, make your selections, and get ready to embark on a remarkable journey at sea!


Dining and Entertainment Options

When selecting a cruise, the dining and entertainment options on board play a significant role in shaping your overall experience. Here’s what you should consider in terms of dining and entertainment: 1. Dining: Most cruises offer a range of dining options to suit different tastes and preferences. The main dining room provides a traditional dining experience with set dinner times and multi-course meals. Specialty restaurants, on the other hand, offer a variety of cuisines such as Italian, Asian, or steakhouse, usually at an additional cost. Buffet-style dining is also common, providing a more casual and flexible dining experience. Consider your dining preferences and whether you prefer flexibility or a more structured dining schedule. 2. Culinary Experiences: Some cruise lines offer unique culinary experiences aboard their ships. These may include cooking classes, wine tastings, cocktail seminars, or even chef’s tables where you can enjoy a specially curated meal prepared by the ship’s executive chef. If you’re a food enthusiast, these options can add a delightful touch to your cruise. 3. Entertainment Shows: Cruise ships are known for their top-notch entertainment programs. From Broadway-style shows and live music performances to comedy acts and magic shows, there is something for everyone. Check the cruise line’s entertainment offerings and schedule to ensure they align with your interests. 4. Themed Nights and Parties: Many cruises have themed nights and parties that add excitement and fun to your onboard experience. These could include tropical-themed deck parties, formal nights for elegant dining, or themed costume parties. Find out if the cruise you’re considering has any special events that you would enjoy being a part of. 5. Nightlife and Bars: Cruise ships often have bars and lounges where you can relax, socialize, and enjoy a variety of beverages. Whether you prefer a lively nightclub, a cozy piano bar, or a poolside cocktail bar, there are usually options to cater to different atmospheres and preferences. 6. Casinos: If you enjoy a bit of gambling, check if the cruise ship has a casino. Many ships have onboard casinos with a variety of table games, slot machines, and even poker tournaments. Keep in mind that casinos may have age restrictions and be subject to specific regulations depending on the cruise line and itinerary. 7. Family Entertainment: If you are traveling with children, look for cruise lines that offer family-friendly entertainment options. Many ships have dedicated kids’ clubs, game rooms, and even water parks or sports facilities. Ensure that there are age-appropriate activities available to keep your kids entertained throughout the journey. 8. Outdoor Activities: If you prefer outdoor activities, consider what the ship has to offer in terms of sports facilities, water sports, and outdoor recreation areas. Some ships have basketball courts, mini-golf courses, rock climbing walls, or even surf simulators for you to enjoy while at sea. By researching and considering the dining and entertainment options available on different cruise lines, you can choose a cruise that aligns with your preferences and ensures a memorable and enjoyable experience. So, explore the choices, immerse yourself in the onboard entertainment, and indulge in the delectable dining options as you embark on a remarkable voyage.


Cost and Budgeting

When planning a cruise, understanding the cost and budgeting for your trip is essential. Here are some key considerations to help you manage your expenses effectively: 1. Cruise Fare: The cruise fare is the base cost of your trip, which typically includes accommodation, meals, and most onboard activities. Research different cruise lines to compare prices and find one that fits within your budget. Keep in mind that prices can vary depending on factors such as the ship, cabin type, itinerary, and time of year. 2. Additional Costs: In addition to the cruise fare, anticipate additional costs that may arise during your trip. These can include gratuities, excursions, specialty dining, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, internet access, and shopping. Consider these potential expenses when setting your budget to avoid any surprises. 3. All-Inclusive Packages: Some cruise lines offer all-inclusive packages that bundle various amenities and services into a single price. These packages may include extras such as unlimited beverages, Wi-Fi access, or specialty dining. Consider if these packages offer good value for your preferences and needs. 4. Off-Peak Travel: Traveling during off-peak seasons or shoulder seasons can often result in lower cruise fares. Research when the demand is lower for your desired destination and consider booking during these times to save on costs. 5. Promotions and Discounts: Keep an eye out for promotions and discounts offered by cruise lines. These can include early booking incentives, last-minute deals, or discounts for specific demographics such as seniors, military personnel, or past cruisers. Sign up for newsletters or follow cruise line social media accounts to stay updated on these offers. 6. Set Priorities: Prioritize the aspects of your cruise experience that matter most to you. If luxurious accommodations are a priority, allocate a larger portion of your budget to securing a higher cabin category. If exploring excursions is more important, set aside funds specifically for these activities. Knowing your priorities will help you budget accordingly. 7. Track Expenses: Once you’re on your cruise, keep track of your expenses to ensure you stay within your budget. Most cruise lines provide onboard accounts that allow you to monitor and control your spending. Review your account regularly and adjust your spending if necessary. 8. Prepaid Expenses: Consider prepaying for certain expenses, such as gratuities or specialty dining, before you embark on your cruise. This can help you manage your budget more effectively and avoid unexpected costs during your trip. Remember to be realistic about your budget and be mindful of your spending throughout the cruise. By planning ahead and setting a budget, you can enjoy your cruise vacation without any financial stress. By carefully considering the costs and budgeting for your cruise, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip while keeping your finances in check. So, take the time to plan and budget accordingly, and get ready for an incredible cruise experience within your means.


Reviews and Recommendations

When it comes to choosing a cruise, reading reviews and seeking recommendations can provide invaluable insights and help you make an informed decision. Here’s how to make the most of reviews and recommendations: 1. Online Review Platforms: Websites like TripAdvisor, Cruise Critic, and Yelp feature reviews from fellow travelers. Read a variety of reviews to get a well-rounded perspective on the cruise line, ship, and itinerary you are considering. Pay attention to both positive and negative aspects mentioned in the reviews. 2. Consider the Source: Take note of the credibility of the source when reading reviews. Some sites allow verified travelers to leave reviews, which adds more authenticity to the feedback. Look for detailed and balanced reviews that provide specific information about the cruise experience. 3. Look for Consistency: While individual opinions may vary, look for common themes or consistent feedback across multiple reviews. This can help you identify potential strengths or weaknesses of the cruise line or ship you are interested in. 4. Seek Recommendations: Reach out to friends, family, or colleagues who have been on cruises before. Their personal experiences and recommendations can be highly valuable. Ask specific questions about the ship, dining options, onboard activities, and any standout moments they enjoyed. 5. Consider Your Preferences: Keep in mind that everyone has different tastes and preferences. What might be a highlight for one person may not be as significant to you. Consider reviews and recommendations with your own preferences in mind to make a decision that aligns with your interests. 6. Cruise Line Loyalty Programs: If you have previously sailed with a particular cruise line and enjoyed your experience, consider sticking with that line for your next cruise. Cruise loyalty programs often offer benefits and rewards to repeat customers, which can enhance your overall experience. 7. Travel Agent Expertise: Consult with a travel agent who specializes in cruises. They have firsthand knowledge and expertise in recommending the right cruise based on your preferences, budget, and travel dates. They can also provide insights on promotions, deals, and exclusive offers. 8. Attend Cruise Forums and Events: Participate in online cruise forums or attend travel events where you can interact with experienced cruisers. These platforms provide opportunities to ask specific questions and gather valuable information from seasoned travelers. Remember to approach reviews and recommendations with an open mind and consider them as part of your overall research. They can provide guidance and help you choose a cruise that best suits your preferences and expectations. By leveraging the experiences and insights of other travelers, you can make a more informed decision and set yourself up for a memorable and enjoyable cruise vacation. So, dive into the reviews, seek recommendations, and gather the information you need to embark on an extraordinary journey at sea!


Booking Process and Cancellation Policies

Once you have chosen the perfect cruise for your getaway, it’s time to navigate the booking process and familiarize yourself with the cancellation policies. Here are some important points to consider: 1. Booking Options: Cruise bookings can be made directly through the cruise line’s website, through a travel agent, or through online travel agencies. Compare prices and options from multiple sources to ensure you get the best deal. Travel agents can offer expertise, personalized recommendations, and sometimes exclusive deals. 2. Early Booking: Booking your cruise in advance can often result in better rates and a wider variety of cabin options. Many cruise lines offer early booking incentives such as onboard credits, cabin upgrades, or discounted rates. 3. Deposit and Payment: When booking a cruise, you will usually be required to pay a deposit to secure your reservation. The remaining balance is typically due closer to the departure date. Ensure you understand the payment terms and schedule set by the cruise line or travel agent. 4. Cancellation Policies: Familiarize yourself with the cancellation policies before making a booking. Each cruise line has its own set of rules and deadlines for cancellations, and the policies may vary based on the type of fare you choose. Understand the penalties, refund options, and any potential cancellation fees. 5. Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment in case unforeseen circumstances force you to cancel or interrupt your trip. Travel insurance can also provide coverage for medical emergencies, trip delays, lost luggage, and other unexpected situations. 6. Change Fees: Be aware of any change fees associated with modifying your booking. If you need to make adjustments to your reservation, such as changing the travel dates or cabin category, there may be fees involved. Understand the terms and costs associated with making changes. 7. Travel Documents: Ensure you have all the necessary travel documents before your cruise. This may include passports, visas, and proof of vaccinations, depending on the itinerary. Check the travel requirements for your specific cruise and allow ample time to obtain any required documents. 8. Review Terms and Conditions: Carefully read and understand the terms and conditions of your booking. This includes understanding any limitations, restrictions, or additional charges related to onboard activities, dining options, and services offered on the ship. 9. Monitor Price Drops: After booking your cruise, continue to monitor the fares. If the price drops, some cruise lines offer price protection or the option to receive a credit for the difference. Take advantage of this if applicable. By understanding the booking process and cancellation policies, you can confidently secure your cruise reservation and plan accordingly. Be sure to review all aspects of your booking and keep a copy of the confirmation for reference. Remember, flexibility is key when it comes to cancellation policies and making changes to your booking. Stay informed and adhere to the deadlines and guidelines provided by the cruise line or your travel agent. Now that you’re familiar with the booking process and cancellation policies, you can embark on your cruise journey with peace of mind, knowing that you have the necessary information to navigate any changes or unforeseen circumstances that may arise.



Choosing the right cruise requires careful consideration of various factors, from destination and itinerary options to cabin types, onboard amenities, and budgeting. By taking the time to research and evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable cruise experience. Begin by considering your preferences, travel goals, and available vacation time. Research different cruise lines and ships, reading reviews and seeking recommendations from fellow travelers. Look for a cruise that offers the desired destination, itinerary, and onboard amenities that align with your interests. Budgeting is crucial to avoid any financial stress during your cruise. Consider the cruise fare, additional costs, and potential discounts or promotions. Set priorities based on your interests and allocate funds accordingly. Once you’ve selected your cruise, navigate the booking process, understanding the payment terms, cancellation policies, and any applicable change fees. Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment and provide coverage for unexpected situations. As you embark on your cruise, keep an open mind and embrace the diverse dining and entertainment options offered on board. Take advantage of the amenities, entertainment shows, specialty dining experiences, and family-friendly activities available. Throughout your journey, stay connected with fellow travelers, engage in activities, and explore the destinations you visit. Remember to monitor your expenses, take note of any price drops, and enjoy the moments that make your cruise experience truly remarkable. In conclusion, selecting the perfect cruise requires adequate research, thoughtful decision-making, and a clear understanding of your preferences and budget. By taking the time to consider these factors, you can embark on a cruise vacation that leaves you with unforgettable memories and a desire to set sail again in the future. So, set your course, embrace the adventure, and enjoy the incredible journey that awaits you at sea.