New to cruising? Start Here.
If this is your first visit, you may want to subscribe to my newsletter. Thanks for visiting!
Planning a cruise is almost as much fun for me as going on the actual cruise. But for some people, planning a cruise can be stressful. If you’re new to cruise planning, there are just a few key decisions you need to make in order to put together a great vacation for you and your family.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. Please check out my disclosure for more information.
Cruises are the most versatile of vacations no matter what your age. Not only that, it’s a great way to include the whole family but still have time alone with your significant other while the kids-only activity coordinators take charge of your children’s fun.
The first step to putting together a great cruise vacation is to decide if you want to go through a travel agency that specializes in cruises or book directly through a cruise vacation Internet site. After that decision is made, you’ll need to know 3 more things.
Where are you going?
There are some seasonal rules of thumb about choosing your destination. If you’re limited in the time of year you can get away then you’re also somewhat limited on where you can go. For instance, you can only cruise Alaska in the summer. Europe has similar seasonal restrictions as well. If you’re planning on heading out in the spring or fall you might want to consider a cruise up and down the Panama Canal. Just about any time of year, including the winter, you can cruise to Asia or the Caribbean.
Who is going with you?
When you’re planning a cruise, you need to determine who is going to go with you. Knowing if children or seniors will join you will affect which cruises offer the best choices of entertainment for your entire party. In fact, it’s best to host a cruise meeting (lunch, dinner, conference call, or Zoom) to see what everyone wants to do. You need to know if crafts are important; how many are going to lounge by the pool; who wants to get off and explore at the first land stop; who prefers exotic locations and who’d rather just play shuffleboard.
The size of the ship can be important as well. Larger ships have a greater variety of entertainment options, such as dancing and stage shows, although smaller ships may provide a lower guest-to-staff ratio, and thus more personal attention to your needs.
If you’re not going as a large group and you are interested in getting to know your fellow cruisers then be sure to ask about the usual demographics of passengers. If you’re 20 something and it’s a baby boomer cruise you’ll probably be bored. If you bring your grade-schoolers and most of the other kids are in their teens they won’t have enough playmates and you’ll be their entertainment for the extent of the cruise.
What is your budget?
One of the most important parts of planning a cruise is knowing how much you and the others can spend. If money is a critical factor look for discounts for booking early or starting out on a different day or different week from your original request. Staying flexible can save you considerable money. Ask about any additional fees not included in the cost of your cruise. Gratuities and port charges and fees will be added to the base price. And never forget about travel insurance!
Once you decide on those 3 things, you’ll go deeper into your planning process with other more exciting decisions to be made. Take a look at a few posts that will help you with further planning.
- CHOOSING THE RIGHT CRUISE CABIN FOR YOU
- WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER WHEN BOOKING A CRUISE VISITING INTERNATIONAL PORTS
- CRUISE TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: WHICH FORM OF ID IS BEST?
- 5 QUESTIONS EVERY FIRST-TIME CRUISER HAS