When it comes to cruising, you have a virtual sea of cruise lines, ships and itineraries to choose from! The good news is that, with this vast number of options, there’s something out there just perfect for you. The bad news is that it might take you a significant amount of time to find the proverbial needle in your vacation haystack . . . unless, of course, you work with an expert travel agent like us!
According to the Cruise Lines International Association, almost 75 percent of travelers book their cruises with a travel agent. And with (very) good reason: We will get to know you—your travel style, your vacation wish list, your budget, etc.—and will then match you with your ideal cruise line, ship and itinerary. To get you started, here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a cruise.
Know the ABCs of Cruising
One of the reasons cruising is such a popular vacation option is that it is truly one of the most personal ways to travel, and that’s ultimately because of the many options you can customize to reflect your preferences, like:
- Ship Type: Take your pick between mega ships, small ships, expedition ships, yachts, barges and river cruisers—each type includes its unique set of pros and cons (for instance, a big ship might have more people, but it will probably also have all manner of conveniences, like a barber shop and a place to buy provisions, and fun extras, like a casino and a rock climbing wall);
- Voyage Length: You can be gone for a long weekend, or most of the year;
- Itinerary: Beyond simply getting you from here to there, today’s cruises are all about your best experiences, including itinerary elements like adventurous shore excursions and on-board food and wine classes;
- Cost: Cruising costs range from budget to moderate, premium and luxury;
- Pre- and Post-Cruise Options: Bookend your cruise with hotel stays to best take advantage of your time away and to get a different perspective on the destination(s) you’re visiting; and
- Cruise Deals: Okay, this might be your favorite part—there are great cruise deals to be had, you just have to know where to look (that’s where we come in) and when to book . . . cruise deals often include a reduced rate, free airfare, 2-for-1 prices, free excursions, pre- or post-night lodging accommodations and onboard credits. It’s also smart to look for all-inclusive cruising options!
Truly, there are too many cruising benefits to mention, but a few favorites include the chance to sample many ports without having to repeatedly pack and unpack, quality entertainment options, enriching and educational activity programs and diverse dining (whether you’re into endless buffets or 5-star gourmet cuisine, or both!).
Know a Few Good Tips for Planning a Cruise
- Do Your Homework: Consider the destinations you want to visit, the time of year you’re going to go and the budget you have available.
- Speak Up: To help us narrow down the cruising options to those that are best for you, tell us what you like to do on vacation and be clear about what you’re looking for so our recommendations best reflect you.
- Respect Your Budget: Sure, opting for a balcony stateroom is definitely worth it, but only if you can afford it. If you can’t, don’t fret! The size of the stateroom—from inside to verandah categories—is usually the same; what you’re paying for is often the view (no window, window or balcony) and there are typically many places on a ship where you can take in an unforgettable view!
- Compare Apples to Apples: Don’t just look at the bottom line price when making a cruising decision. Know what is included in the price (meals, gratuities, entertainment, insurance, etc.), and what isn’t, and make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when looking at different cruise options.
- Trust the Experts: It’s perhaps most important that you trust the advice of your travel agent when making a decision. An expert travel agent often has personally experienced the different cruising options, and knows firsthand the differences between the many cruise lines, stateroom choices, onboard amenities and more.