Going on a cruise is one of the most beloved ways to travel — and it’s not hard to understand why. The experience is relaxing, rewarding and allows you to see multiple places all without worrying about transportation and other logistics.
However, you can’t just leave everything up to the cruise line company. Yes, once you arrive, things will be all sorted out, but there are many considerations to make and a lot of planning to do before you book anything — that is, if you want a trip that’s actually suited to your tastes.
Fortunately, everything will work out great as long as you understand which aspects of your trip are most important. If you think about the following factors before settling on a cruise, you will then be free to fully focus on the memories you’ll make — not the little bumps that can strip all the relaxation out of travel.
1. Types of Cruises
These days, there are a number of different types of cruises from which to choose. The family-friendly, all-ages trip to the Caribbean is what most people think about initially. Water slides for the kids, shuffleboard for the grandparents and a nightclub for the young adults are typical desires and must-haves.
Conversely, if you don’t have kids and want to get away, you may prefer a couples cruise that doesn’t allow minors. Singles cruises are also a draw for many, while other trips cater to retirees who aren’t planning to stay up all night dancing to electronic music. None of these options are necessarily better or worse, but they will definitely appeal to different people.
2. Timing and Weather
There are certain times of the year that will make a cruise more or less fun. Of course, you’ll also want to keep in mind seasonal demand. While being a parent with kids in school may limit your options, there’s a reason why the holiday season, February vacation and spring break are the most popular dates on the calendar.
Though modern cruise ships are suited to be comfortable at full capacity, a lower-traffic season may make the trip more enjoyable (and, importantly, cheaper). You should also consider the weather. Cruises with stops in Central America, for example, can be disappointing during the local rainy season, while the Mediterranean tends to be certainly less balmy in January.
3. Consider All Options
There’s no need to simply sign up for the boilerplate experience. Fun in the sun and lounging on a beach chair all day can be relaxing, but there are other — and arguably better — opportunities out there if you rethink what a cruise experience should actually entail.
For example, tour packages for cruises to Alaska have become incredibly popular, as people come to realize that an unforgettable maritime getaway isn’t reserved solely for the tropical waters of the Caribbean.
Instead of sandy beaches that can start to all look the same after a week on the water, those who head north up the Pacific Coast of North America see massive glaciers, active wildlife and natural parks that truly make you feel like you’ve stepped into a whole other world.
Planning to Enjoy
Across the board, going on a cruise can be much easier to plan than other types of vacations. Rather than worrying about flights, car rentals, public transportation, getting lost in unfamiliar cities and booking various hotels across multiple dates, you just show up and know everything is already arranged.
But there are a few elements to which you must pay particular attention. Be sure to find the right cruise for the type of trip you want, work out your schedule to align with local weather and seasonal demand, and always consider every option rather than falling back on what’s most well known.
By doing so, after everything is planned to meet your exact needs, you can start getting excited, knowing that the vacation will go off without a hitch — just as you envisioned.