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Travel and Leisure

How To Choose Your First Cruise

Setting sail on your first cruise vacation is an exciting prospect. Whether you have eyed the seas since childhood or find yourself inspired by a friend, now is the time to go. Cruise line innovations have led to seemingly endless options for passengers. Select your priorities, envision your cruise, and pick the itinerary that is most suited to your needs and desires. After setting a budget, consider these questions as you choose your maiden cruise.

Where are you sailing?

You can largely sail wherever your heart desires. The world is your oyster. Look at all inclusive cruises on ocean liners in the Caribbean or riverboats on the Danube. You can visit places like the Bahamas, Bermuda, Greece, Croatia, Alaska, and the Atlantic coast. Cruise ships even venture into the waters near Venice, Italy. European voyages down large scenic rivers can create a romantic ambiance. Research ports where your cruise would start and stop along the way.

When are you sailing?

Think about the time of year when you would prefer to sail. It is a good idea to look at average temperatures and precipitation that can be expected in your intended region. Try to avoid hurricane season and months where inhospitable heat or cold might impede your enjoyment. This can help you to find off-season deals and pack appropriately for transitional weather.

Are you with a companion or group?

Solo travel can be invigorating and creates opportunities for connections with new acquaintances. Some cruise lines may offer different rates and deals for solo travelers. Cruise lines that cater more to large groups could host floating family reunions. Research vessels with supervised children’s programming to give adults time to relax. Couples may prefer calmer seas and sunset views from private balconies.

How big is the vessel? 

You may find yourself on a ship with tens of passengers or thousands. A huge multilevel ocean liner has space for everyone to have fun. Larger vessels often have spacious gyms, spas, shops, and activity decks. People with service dogs will find dedicated relief areas on the latest ships. Smaller vessels may cater to mature groups who find joy in whale watching and lectures about the local culture. River cruises tend to have less capacity and onboard amenities since passengers disembark more frequently for walking tours.

What food is available?

Culinary offerings on cruise ships can please all palates and accommodate most dietary needs. Choose from buffets, cafes, bars, full-service restaurants, and decadent room service. Large ocean liners may have multiple restaurants and types of cuisine on one ship. Smaller vessels tend to have breakfast and lunch buffets followed by formal suppers in one expansive dining room. Check-in with your chosen cruise liner’s kitchen standards for safely accommodating allergies or other dietary needs. Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and Kosher options are available on many larger ships.

What are the onboard activities?

Cruise ships can have arcades, pools, waterslides, climbing walls, and playrooms for energetic children. Adults can use outdoor walking tracks on the deck, sunbathing chairs, gyms, hot tubs, massage appointments, shopping, and cocktail hours. Each ship offers a different menu of activities for happy guests. Comedy, dance, music, and acrobatic shows may add joy to evenings on your vacation. Ask concierge services about crafting a unique onboard schedule for yourself or a group.

Are there shore excursions?

Shore excursions depend on location, weather, and the size of ships relative to available ports. Big cruise liners may dock or taxi passengers to shore for local exploration and guided tours. The expert knowledge of local guides can help you to make the most of your hours onshore and get back to the ship with time to spare. Tropical cruises may come with opportunities to visit sunny beaches and meet dolphins, while European voyages may offer hours in picturesque historic cities along your route.

Dive in and find the cruise of your dreams. Adventure awaits on the open seas!

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