Anyone who has been on a cruise, or dreamt of one, knows it is a unique experience. Cruises entice passengers with an amazing array of amenities -- from pools to shops -- and on-board programs that entertain young and old alike. This is all in addition to the ports of call along the way which provide opportunities for snapshot visits through specialized tours.
If you've had cruising on your mind, now is the time to act. It's Wave Season -- a three-month period when cruise companies put out their best deals and offers to entice travellers. You can grab some amazing deals on cruises to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Alaska and more. But choosing which cruise and destination are right for you can be a challenge. With so many different offerings, it can be tricky. Here are a few tips for choosing the right cruise for you.
Make sure your destination fits with when you want to go
If vacation only comes at a certain time of year, be sure to look for cruise destinations that are best suited to that season. If you are dying to go to a specific destination, book your cruise for when you can experience the best that country has to offer. June to August is the warmest time to travel to Alaska. And if you want to avoid the rainy season, a cruise to the Caribbean is best between December and April.
Be honest and thorough when accounting for the needs of you and your travel companions
Different cruises are suited to different types of travellers. If you are traveling with young kids, be sure to look for a cruise line that offers activities and amenities for youngsters. While a Disney cruise might well-suit a family of kids 10 and under, a retired couple may not find the quiet relaxation they are after -- a Mediterranean cruise with Holland America might suit those looking for adult-oriented activities.
If you are a multi-generation travel bunch, look for a cruise that offers adult and kid-oriented activities. Royal Caribbean has a lot to offer.
Set a budget and find the best offering at your price point
Because amenities can range so greatly, pricing on cruises -- from luxury to standard -- can vary as well. By all means, research what the cruise of your dreams might cost, but sticking to your budget will give you the satisfaction of not breaking the bank. Cruise prices vary depending on how long the cruise is, the cruise line, the cruise ship, where your room is, what type of room you choose and when you travel. Tully Luxury Travel reminds us to check out what is included in the price you pay. For example, is it all-inclusive or will you also need to pay for meals? Which meals are included?
Take a look at the itinerary ahead of time to be sure it is right for you
What stops will you be making along the way? What tours are available to you on-land? Tully Luxury Travel reminds us to consider -- are these ports of call you want to explore?
If you aren't sure which cruise is right for you, work with a travel agent.
Choose someone who has experience on cruise ships and booking this type of travel. They will have a wealth of information that can help guide your decision. Happy sailing!
Heather Greenwood Davis is the founder of Globetrotting Mama and a freelance writer for publications that include the Toronto Star and National Geographic Traveler.
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See More of When to Cruise WhereWhen To Go: January through March, for low humidity and blue skies Most Cape Horn sailings begin and end in Chile or Argentina, but Oceania Cruises’ February 3 itinerary on the Regatta (19 nights from $6,199, with airfare) starts in Lima, Peru—which gives you time to visit Machu Picchu before cruising Patagonia’s dramatic fjords. Leaving from Rio de Janeiro, the February 7 sailing (12 nights from $1,799, all- inclusive) on the Azamara Journey includes two additional nights in Rio mid-cruise during Carnival. Windstar Cruises’ 148- passenger Wind Spirit has trips (seven nights from $2,499) through the Panama Canal with stops in Costa Rica’s national parks. Photo courtesy of Oceania Cruises
See More of When to Cruise WhereWhen To Go: January through March, the least muggy months Crystal Symphony’s February 24 voyage (13 nights from $5,295, all-inclusive) visits Malaysia and “it” destination Myanmar. The highlight: two nights in Yangon, with an optional overnight excursion to the 1,000-year-old temples of Bagan. For a more immersive experience in Myanmar, AmaWaterways’ new AmaPura sails to or from Mandalay (12 nights from $4,899, including drinks), with trips to Salay’s monasteries and the Mahamuni Buddha. Leaving from Hong Kong, Silversea’s March 10 voyage (nine nights from $4,350, all-inclusive) is Vietnam 101: the 296-passenger Silver Wind docks in Ha Long Bay, Chan May, and Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: iStockphoto
See More of When to Cruise WhereWhen To Go: April—prime time to see tulips Tour operator Cox & Kings recently launched river cruises on Scenic Cruises’ upscale ships. The April 27 sailing (seven nights from $2,585, including drinks), round-trip from Amsterdam, calls at Keukenhof, the world’s second-largest flower garden, open only during the spring, and Bruges. Viking follows a similar itinerary on its new Longships with its Tulips and Windmills sailings (nine nights from $3,072, including drinks). Photo courtesy of Cox & Kings
See More of When to Cruise WhereWhen To Go: May and early June, before the summer rush A benefit of SeaDream Yacht Club: its twin 112-passenger yachts can stop in smaller ports. The May 30 sailing, round-trip from Civitavecchia, Italy (seven nights from $5,299, all-inclusive), on the SeaDream II, features three days on the Amalfi Coast. Oceania Cruises’ May 20 voyage from Istanbul to Lisbon (10 nights from $4,199 with airfare) on the 684-passenger Nautica incorporates destinations rarely found in the same itinerary, including Tunis, Tunisia, and Málaga, Spain. Seabourn Odyssey hits popular Greek isles (Mykonos, Santorini) on its May 16 sailing from Venice to Istanbul (13 nights from $7,699, all-inclusive). Photo courtesy of Seabourn Cruise Line
See More of When to Cruise WhereWhen To Go: Mid-May and June, for fewer crowds and more affordable fares Princess offers voyages along the Inside Passage (seven nights from $799) on the 3,082-passenger Crown Princess and Ruby Princess. You’ll stop at Glacier Bay National Park, where regulations limit ship traffic. Consider adding a land tour: Holland America Line’s itineraries combine a cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage on the 1,432- passenger Zaandam with a rail trip to Denali National Park (12 nights from $1,699). Ponant’s small, luxurious ships are often chartered by tour operators like Abercrombie & Kent. It makes its Alaska debut with L’Austral sailing the Inside Passage (seven nights from $3,700, all-inclusive). Photo: America / Alamy
See More of When to Cruise WhereWhen To Go: July and August, for the white nights Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Viking Odyssey itinerary, leaving July 6, combines the Norwegian fjords with a trip to the Arctic Circle on the 700-passenger Seven Seas Voyager (20 nights from $17,599, all-inclusive, with airfare). The August 13 journey on the Azamara Quest (12 nights from $4,799, all-inclusive) visits traditional Baltic ports (St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tallinn, Estonia), and includes two nights each in Stockholm and Amsterdam. Tauck is one of the few companies to offer Iceland-specific cruises. Explore Grimsey Island and the Snæfellsnes peninsula on a round-trip voyage from Reykjavík (seven nights from $6,690, all-inclusive) on Ponant’s upscale ships. Photo: Danica Jorge
See More of When to Cruise WhereWhen To Go: July and August, so you can soak up the sun on the pool deck Cunard helped pioneer transatlantic cruising—and its fleet is the only one to offer regular seven- and eight-night sailings across the pond. On July 2, the Queen Mary 2 (12 nights from $2,813) will make a commemorative voyage from Southampton, England, to New York, nearly 175 years to the day after Cunard’s first ship, Britannia, made its maiden voyage. The QM2 then returns across the Atlantic to Southampton on July 14 (eight nights from $1,735) and offers more sailings throughout July and August. Photo courtesy of Cunard
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