Planning a cruise vacation? See our collection of tips and reviews, cruise planning checklist suggestions, a cruise ship travel market review.
Cruise planning checklist: No 1 - check out the market movers
Since you're looking for information on cruise planning, it means there's a 99% chance that you are a first-timer. So in my opinion, one of the first things to do is to know the market out there. There are lots of all best cruise ship lines on this high-valued vacation travel market segment, and their vacation deals generally pertain to 4 main traveler types - economical (budget-minded), standard (middle-class folks), premium (affluent sirs & ladies of our modern times) and luxury (the silver-spooned ones - either by their parents or by God himself). As to why God should be treated as male - I gotta admit I really don't know.
Still, beside their clientele, passenger cruise lines are also classified by service quality and amenities as factor within each segment. It means if you book a cheap cruise line ship, but you're booked on a balcony or suite accommodation, you'll probably enjoy your vacation experience there better than if booked on lower grade suite on luxury ship. Why? Because cheap ships are so much fun - and not only because of their best ever prices! Imagine you are suite-person on a huge fun-infested boat. All the folks are there to have the fun of their lives, to eat and drink (big time!), to enjoy watching comedy shows and big-screen movies by the pool, to have their nightly deck parties, and to smile - a lot. And you are like king there!
Booking a suite on a cheap ship means the best of service, amenities, perks - the best of everything! On luxury ship - there's a lot of style and sophistication, all rich people (most of them at age group 45-60+), superior service and all-inclusiveness. I, personally, don't see much fun there, but that's just me. I like real people and real-life experiences - I like the fun of common folks and their real joys. Having said that, not all the lines are in the "low" and "high" alone. Most of the large passenger cruise lines (like Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival) have their passengers perfectly mixed. The "rich and big" there do enjoy playing with the common folks - they play at full-sized sport courts together, watch on huge LED screens sports games together, drink and dance, and smile a lot too - together. You know yourself better than anyone - fun or style is what you need on your cruise vacation?
Planning a cruise? more than 2,000 best destinations for you to enjoy!
Where can I go on a cruise? Each year are offered almost 30,000 different itineraries for over 2,000 destinations. The cruise ship can take you to Alaska, Antarctica and the Arctic, to Asia, Australia and the South Pacific islands. Caribbean and Europe are so popular I even forgot about them. It's all up to time and money, basically, which also means it's all up to YOU (which is not the case with hurricane season cruising)!
What to expect from a cruise? In an economical (affordable) cruise package the low cost is important, the entertainment is limited to the minimum, but on bigger ships is never absent. Standard (inexpensive) cruise package deals provide active and dynamic rest and lots of fun suggestions for shore excursions. Free kids cruise deals with children in the cabin of the parents is the "kids sail for free" strategy used by some of the major brands (like MSC & NCL, and rarely Disney). But be careful - the children's voices of fun are everywhere (lots of kids there because of the cheap prices) and most of the venues are really overcrowded. First-class top luxury cruise ships offer premium to deluxe vacations. High and highest cruise ship ratings smaller capacity vessels with small guests-to-crew ratios, highly personalized service, all-specialty restaurants fine dining with gourmet cuisine, cabins are generally larger, fewer children, passengers are 40+ yo. The best value is in interior design (really classy decors), highest food quality, impeccable service. The rich people ships also have feature lecturers among renown celebrities - even political leaders, diplomats, ambassadors, scientists, writers, famous actors. So yes - big money does mean style!
Planning a cruise vacation - tips
Is it appropriate with children on board? The number of the cruising families is growing rapidly - more than ever. All big ships and their onboard activities are specifically designed for different age groups, but mostly for families. On the ship kids interact and collaborate in a safe, comfortable and friendly environment, always supervised by professional staff. If you do not like noisy crowds and long queues, you can try a small ship cruise vacation, river boat or a yacht charter.
The solo cruise passengers are almost 25% these days! Sea vacation holidays are most suitable for traveling alone. It's easy to meet new people - in a non-competitive environment. And many cruise ships have single/solo cabins. Also with the lines' single supplement rates doubles (standard rooms) can be used as a single. Some lines offer room-sharing, too.
Please, if you are really a first-time cruiser - do not hire the cabin next to the disco-club, or near some of the elevators! Cruise ship cabins are of all kinds of types and sizes. They differ a lot in size and amenities, but also in location (which is the "comfort" factor). You will wake at 6am (each morning of your trip!) if you've chosen a cabin located in the lane for jogging or gym, or below the main dining room (to enjoy the scratching noise of chairs and table). Will you relax in your bed early in the evening before the DJ completes the program because your cabin is located near the disco-club? The right choice of cabin is most important for your (even normal) sea vacation experience.
If you've planned already where and when you'll be cruising this or the next year, may be you'll be interested in our best selection of cruise packing tips and ideas for your fun vacation.