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Seven Questions Before Choosing a Cruise Line #travel #TTOT

This season I have been running a cruising series here. I know it’s fun to plan holidays as soon as the cool weather hits and some of us are big travel planning junkies. (WINK) I write a fair bit about travel and one of the things first time cruisers ask me most is what cruise line should I choose?

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That’s a hard question to answer for another person without a few basic facts. Do a bit of brainstorming about your needs and your travel style before you start searching in earnest. Asking yourself these seven questions before you choose your cruise line vacation will help you have a successful experience.

Seven Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing A Cruise Line:

  1. How big is too big?

    Listen, cruise lines can vary from 2000 on a ship to 4500 or more and 21 floors. Last year we opted for the Norwegian Escape and we loved it – but a cruise ship that has 21 floors and 4500 people is not a place where little people can be left unattended. Think about that when booking. The size of the cruise impacts everything – from how long it takes to board to port excursions, lineups and dinner time. If you hate to wait, then I think you should never choose a cruise line with 4500 people on it. The Norwegian Escape was more than efficient and great for our cruise in 2015, but that size cruise would not be very romantic in my opinion. And, although we loved so much about the activities on board, my teen rescued multiple lost children every day at the waterpark. She is a sensitive gal and she would see some little person suddenly begin to panic every day when they looked up and saw that Mom and Dad were missing. We would then contact activities staff who would circulate the info around the ship and wait for panicked Mom or Dad to show. If I had a toddler I would use the kid’s clubs as opposed to risking losing them even for a short time.   cruise_line

  2. What kind of cruise vacation you want?

    There are as many cruise ships as there are types of travel – maybe even more actually. So where to start? Romance? Family travel? Party cruise? LGBTQ? Multi-generational? Special needs? Well, we do family travel so I can tell you that Norwegian and Carnival do family travel very well. Obviously Disney is family and multi-generational travel as well. Celebrity clients skew a bit older in my experience and there are a lot of diehard return cruisers on Celebrity. MSC and Holland America also skew older so if you are traveling with teens maybe that’s not the right one for you this year. Royal Caribbean is marketing to a younger demographic. They really don’t seem to want young families, but love millennials and teens. So if that’s your crowd then maybe that’s the best choice for you. This is the one we are choosing to cruise with next. Their ships have some fun activities for kids in my age range 12-15. That’s one of the reasons I decided to choose Royal Caribbean this season.

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  3. Where do you want to go?

    Some cruise lines are experts in the Caribbean and some are experts in European cruises. A few are both. Disney has a stunning Caribbean itinerary and they also have a gorgeous Alaska cruise option. I am confident that with the Disney service either option would be a great vacation choice. I am excited to hear how a very good friend and her family enjoy Disney’s Alaska MSC for instance has some smaller ships with a more intimate feel and they tend to do more European cruising.  

  4.  Who are you traveling with? Is this a family cruise?

    Is it a two week Mediterranean or European Cruise that’s just you and your partner? All the various cruise lines have a reputation and an expertise as well. Each cruise ship caters to a different demographic and some lines are more accustomed to handling people with various special needs and mobility issues than others are. Some are all about activities and some are all about entertainment. The high ropes activities on the Norwegian Escape last year and the waterslides on board were the thing that tipped the scales for me. WE LOVE that kind of stuff on board.

  5. What is your budget?

    Yes cruise lines vary in cost wildly. Royal Caribbean for instance is more expensive that Carnival. Decide how high you can go and then stick to it remembering too there are always extra fees on a cruise ship. Carnival is one of the more economical options. Also if you have already cruised once with several of these cruise lines there are incentives to return year after year.

  6. Are there food allergies in your group?

    How does each of the major cruise lines manage on board allergies? Disney is brilliant at handling allergies. I suspect most cruise lines are now sensitive to many dietary needs and allergies too. BUT if you have a family member with allergies this is one that you really need to check.

  7. What are the ports like?

    Some cruise lines offer 4 and 5 ports on a cruise that is port intensive and 7 days long. If that is your style, then know that you can find that on Norwegian, Royal and also Carnival.

I have not been a passenger on all of the cruise ships out there. I am still really itching to try Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity cruise line too because I have heard a lot about them. Plus Royal always looks like a lot of fun. And Disney Cruise lines have not yet proven affordable for us. One more thing – don’t forget to check with your network of friends, families and neighbours. Their previous experience with a cruise line is one of the most valuable ways to inform your decision.

Which cruises have you taken and what was your experience like?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

20 Comments

  • candy

    See as how I have never been on a cruise before and wouldn’t know where to begin this is great information. Guess I didn’t realize there are so many different types of cruises.

  • HEather S-G

    I’ve never taken a cruise before, so I wouldn’t have known where to begin planning one. Thanks for the great resource (and now I’m dreaming of a warm-weather cruise…).

  • Robin mass mommy

    These are really helpful tips. I know it’s not easy to choose which cruise line you want to go with, but this helps narrow it down.

  • Jeanette

    I love this post! There are so many options when it comes to cruising you need to find out which works best with your personality. We like a little bit more active cruise so we typically look for those. Cruising is just a blast.

  • Pam Wattenbarger

    We have never been on a cruise before, but we have been thinking about taking one in the future. These are great things to think about when we finally take a cruise.

  • Bella

    There are a lot of things to take into consideration when looking for a cruise. I don’t mind fewer port stops – I love being on the water.

  • Rebecca Swenor

    These are awesome questions to ask yourself when choosing a cruise line. I have never been on a cruise before but would love to go some day. This is something I will have to share with my sister because her family goes on vacations every year but she has never been on a cruise before either. Thanks for sharing the information.

  • Anosa

    Definitely great questions to ask, I have not been on a cruise before but plan to soon in the near future. I will start off with a mini cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam before I take on the caribean.

  • Courtneylynnr

    Awesome tips!!! I lived in FL for many years so I went on a ridiculous amount of cruises since they were “cheap” for FL residents. I always tell people age is a huge thing too. Certain cruise lines attract certain age groups. Know before you go so you don’t get on the wrong ship lol

  • Stephanie Jeannot

    I. Have year to go on a cruise but would love to some day. I think a cruise would be a great place for a family reunion. Nice gathering place

  • Charles McCool

    Great cruise travel tips, Paula. I tell people to look at the marketing materials. Cruise lines spend millions of dollars defining their brand through advertising. The brochures and websites are very telling. If you see pictures of people dressed in black tie attire and ballroom dancing, that will be the atmosphere of the ship. If you see people being silly, drinking margaritas, and limbo dancing, do NOT expect a quiet, relaxing cruise. If you see pictures of happy families, then the vibe is family friendly.

    • Paula

      That is good advice Charles. I just spoke with a Mom, and good friend who thought she would get multi-generational and family friendly when she travelled with MSC recently. I think their marketing is kind of vague, unless I just haven’t scrutinized well enough. She was very disappointed with it. She said it was in fact a Caribbean cruise that left from Florida but there were very few people who spoke English and it made it very hard to communicate the whole week. Plus kid’s club was disappointing. It was not a great experience. It’s a big investment sometimes and when the week flops that’s pretty sad.