Choose Your Cruise
Selecting the right cruise line for your vacation can sometimes be a challenge, that is, if you go it alone. Wide-ranging itineraries, shore excursions, staterooms, amenities, ship sizes, dining and activities are just part of a large list of preferences that need to be considered. Differences between cruise lines can be vast and the last place you want to discover that the nuances do not suit your style is when you're miles out at sea.
As travel experts who specialize in breaking down and simplifying the cruise process, we are here to help you select the cruise that best aligns with you and your expectations. Review the steps to selecting the cruise line, ship, itinerary, stateroom and cruise durations that’s right for you.
Choosing a Cruise Line – Part of Choosing a Cruise
There are a number of excellent cruise lines that offer a variety of ships and itineraries that cater to a specific market niche or lifestyle. A cruise line should match your personality, and that is why your Travel Leaders agent will ask many questions regarding the type of vacation you want so they can make relevant recommendations on the cruise line that fits your needs.
Read through the General Cruise Line Classifications and then decide which type of ship appeals to you the most. .
General cruise line classifications:
CRYSTAL CRUISES | REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES | SEABOURN CRUISE LINES | SILVERSEAS CRUISES
Appeals to the more sophisticated cruiser. Ships range from yachts to small/mid-sized ships and carry a few hundred guests. Elegant surroundings, including works of art and antiques along with a staff that caters to your every need. Amenities are of the highest quality, with entertainment geared more toward health club activities, spas and enrichment programs featuring notable guest speakers and celebrated chefs. Most ships feature all-suite, ocean view cabins with designer toiletries and linens, plus high-tech video and audio systems. Dining is highly sophisticated, tapping into the talents of renowned international chefs. Attire is country-club casual to very elegant.
Appeals to the more sophisticated traveler – with upscale to luxury ships and unique amenities and itineraries
AZAMARA CRUISES | CELEBRITY CRUISES | CUNARD LINE | HOLLAND AMERICA LINE | OCEANIA CRUISES
An upscale experience that caters to all age groups and interests. Featuring mid-sized ships accommodating fewer passengers and provide a more sophisticated array of services and amenities. Among the many features, guests can enjoy pools, casinos, libraries, art galleries, and on-board enrichment lectures. Finely appointed cabins range from inside to balconies – these ships also feature a higher number of cabins with an ocean view. Some lines even offer butler service in the higher-end cabins. Dining is of higher-quality and presentation is superb. Attire is often more reserved with designated formal occasions.
Appeals to almost everyone; families, singles, couples. Any age group – upscale ships with upscale luxury amenities.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE | DISNEY CRUISE LINE | MSC CRUISES | NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE | PRINCESS CRUISES | ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
Caters to first time and repeat cruisers. Ships tend to be larger and carry a high number of passengers. You could equate these ships to moving cities on water. Given the size of the ships, there are plenty of entertainment and health venues to appeal to almost anyone regardless of age. Families find these cruise lines appealing for their child and teen programs. A wide assortment of cabin configurations are available ranging from inside to spacious balcony cabins. Dining options are ample, from quick-bite diners to elegant restaurants. Attire is often relaxed with designated formal occasions.
Appeals to everyone; families, singles, couples. Any age group, basic amenities
AVALON WATERWAYS | UNIWORLD RIVER CRUISES | VIKING RIVER CRUISES
For those interested in exploring the interiors of a country or countries via river. River ships are smaller than your average cruise ship, allowing them to fit under bridges and navigate narrow waters. Cabins are well-appointed, each offering an outside view. The atmosphere onboard is more relaxed, intimate and less hectic than a traditional cruise, where entertainment could be a local band, storyteller or just chatting with fellow cruisers. Dining is a gourmet affair, often including a bottle of wine. Most do not have kids programs, but are still enjoyable for all ages. Attire is usually casual.
Appeals to everyone; families, singles, couples. Any age group, basic amenities.
Choosing a Ship – Part of Choosing a Cruise
When it comes to cruise vacations, sometimes determining what kind of cruise ship is best for you can be confusing. At one end of the spectrum are the sleek mega-liners, at the other, small vessels, but which will best match your personality?
Large and lively - If you like the festivity of being among plenty of people and fast-paced entertainment, you'll enjoy one of the 12-15 story mega-liner behemoths. Multiple pool areas, kid and teen venues, energizing activities from surf-simulators to nightclubs, and expansive dining options, are all designed to keep 2,000 to 3,000 passengers buzzing well into the evening. Group activities cover a wide spectrum of interests, including culinary and athletic classes, games, to pool-side activities. Attire is usually relaxed, and depending on the cruise line, evening wear stretches from casual to formal.
Sleek and sophisticated - Catering to roughly 100 to 500 passengers, smaller ships can glide into more quaint and unique ports around the world, resulting in experiences not attainable by those aboard the large ships. Ambiance is enhanced with meals on fine china, entertainment by classical musicians and upgraded stateroom amenities. Notable guest speakers, frequently experts in culinary, cultural or nature-related subjects of the region, will leave you with a heightened appreciation for the cities you'll be visiting. Dress codes are often country-club casual by day, elegant by night.
Somewhere in between - There are also the mid-sized liners, which are a variation between large and small, however attitude and service generally side with the smaller ship approach.
Choosing a Cabin or Stateroom
There are typically four cabin classes, and choosing a cabin really depends on your budget and your need for space and amenities. Also, keep in mind that the longer the cruise, the longer you’ll be in your cabin.
The smallest cabin class, these cabins do not have a porthole or windows. Tastefully decorated, the cabins often feature two twin sized beds that can be pushed together to make a queen sized bed.
Outside (Ocean view) Cabin
Usually similar to the size and amenities of an inside cabin, these rooms have the added benefit of a window.
Often larger than the previous two cabin classes, balcony/veranda cabins feature a sliding glass door giving access to an outside balcony. Inside, you might also have a small sitting area with a loveseat.
The most spacious cabin class, suites come in various configurations depending on the cruise line. Featuring a spacious outside balcony, amenities inside may include a separate bedroom or bedrooms, sitting area, sizeable bathroom with shower, tub and whirlpool. Ideal for families or friends traveling together. Some suites even come with butler service.
Choosing a Cruise Destination and Duration
If you’re new to cruising, there are plenty of 2- to 4-day itineraries to introduce you to the world of cruising. First-time cruisers are typically drawn to the 3- to 4-day Caribbean or 7-day Alaskan cruises, though that isn’t to say you have to hold back on your first cruise experience. The more days you add to your itinerary, the more destinations you will be able to visit and the more time you will have to recognize your cruising preferences.
Typical itineraries range between 5 to 7 days and cover nearly every region in the world. This is the most popular duration range among cruisers. Itineraries in the 6- to 9-day and 10- to 14-day range offer a wider variety of destinations and are often concentrated more in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, Australia/New Zealand.
Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International are all good choices for families with children of any age due to the abundance of kids’ activities and onboard child-friendly facilities.
The spring or fall is the perfect time for those planning a romantic getaway for two. Summer holidays are the time when you'll find many families with children onboard, along with a wide range of fun-filled activities. A mini-trip may be three or four days, while an around-the-world odyssey can last three to four months. However, the average cruise falls in the 7- to 10-day range.
Enlist the help of your Travel Leaders travel agent and customize an itinerary based on your interests and preferences for the best cruise vacation ever!