10 Things to Consider Before Cruising
Ahhhh. Dreams of sun on your skin, wind in your hair and water as far as the eye can see. Food and plenty of beverages while at sea; souvenir shopping and excursions at the ports. That’s what cruising is all about, right? Pretty much. We previously provided tips on 10 Things to Pack for a Cruise and 10 Things to Make the Most of a Cruise and received a great response.
Then it got me thinking… what comes before that? Booking a cruise!
There are many cruise lines available, each with different target markets, features and destinations. Before you jump into booking a cruise, make sure you know what you want to achieve.
10 things to consider before booking a cruise
Who is traveling? – First and foremost, consider who will be accompanying you on the cruise. It makes a tremendous difference. If you’ll be traveling alone, with children (of various ages) or even a group, it may impact what type of cruise you want to go on and even which cruise line.
When and how long do you want to travel? – Time frame is a huge factor in figuring out which cruise line to take. As an example, if you want to travel during the winter months, then an Alaskan cruise isn’t going to be an option. Weather conditions (snow, rain, hurricanes) are the biggest thing to consider when discussing the time frame. If you’ll be traveling during peak season, you’ll need to plan much further in advance to secure the routes, dates and accommodations you prefer.
Where do you want to go? – This goes hand-in-hand with the when and how long. Some destinations are only available on longer routes so if you have a specific location in mind, you’ll need to factor that in. While others are only available during certain seasons.
Where do you want to depart from? – Depending on where you live, the departure location may make a difference in your travel plans. Unless you live near close to the coast then this can make or break your ability to take a particular cruise. If you only have a week available, you’ll need to factor in travel days just to get TO the departure port. A seven-day cruise actually requires a day on either side of that to travel to/from where the cruise ship is based. Also to consider when choosing a departure location is that most cruise packages don’t include airfare.
Amenities – If this is your first cruise, then you might not even realize the variety of options available. Some cruises offer golfing or obstacle courses or miniature water parks, including slides. Others focus on entertainment with various types of shows, musicals and comedians. There are a variety of “kid club” options with some offering baby-sitting services and others providing tweens and teens with their own spaces equipped with activities and events fine-tuned to their age demographic.
Accommodations – Although you don’t end up spending much time in your room, if the size and location of your room is a deal-breaker then you’ll want to pay attention to that while planning. Do you need a balcony or large window? Do you care if it’s an inside state room or a lower deck with no window? Some cruise lines now offer special digital screens that simulate seeing outside – even from an inside state room.
What is your focus? – Whether you are interested in entertainment, excursions, food, parties or entertaining the kids, it all plays into the big picture of which cruise line to select. If you don’t care about excursions, find a cruise that spends more time at sea. If you are looking for full-family entertainment, a cruise ship that is family-focused is your best option. If you just want to spend time on a deck sunning yourself then I encourage you to revisit the option of “when” mentioned above.
Worried about luggage restrictions? – I guess the better way to phrase this would be “Do you want to bring on my own alcohol or other beverages?” If you’re looking to pack yourself a cooler to save money on on-board beverages then you’ll want to do your research before booking. Some ships allow this, some don’t. Some allow but with limits.
What is your budget? – All the above items factor into the overall cost.
What is your priority? – Before you book a cruise, make note of the above questions then prioritize them. There are many cruise lines with multiple options available. It will make the booking process easier if you find some ways to narrow it down. As an example, if budget is your priority and you have a flexible schedule, then getting a better room at a cheaper rate is as easy as booking an off-peak cruise.
Save travels no matter what you decide to do and where you go. Once you decide, don’t forget to double check our other cruise tips!
What do you picture as your dream cruise?
32 thoughts on “10 Things to Consider Before Cruising”
Considering who will be traveling with you is a great point. I’ve heard that some cruises are geared towards singles and not families.
These are all very good points to consider before you book a cruise. I will never be on one–but if I was thinking about it I would surely take this advice.
These are great points! I want to take the fam on a cruise next year, but need to figure out how to make it worthwhile for everyone!
Departure port is definitely an important point to consider. Sometimes I have to decide do I want to add a few days to my trip and sail from a port I can drive to and save airfare or fly to a port that will get me to my location faster.
Very true, your tips, on choosing the right cruise for the family. It’s one of the best way to travel – if you have chosen correctly to begin with! 🙂
We love cruising and since they no longer go out of la, we often go out of FL on Royal.
These are great tips! We love cruising, mostly because of the simplicity of things. Accommodations are something we take a lot of time to review before booking.
We have cruised a few times to numerous destinations and enjoyed all of the experiences. I would love to take a European cruise someday.
Sadly when we go on cruises I focus on two things – does it have a place to workout and what are the menus like. My husband picks on me because I workout so I can eat more because the food is usually so much better than anywhere we go.
Great tips! I hope to make our first cruise happen in the next 5 years. It’s a bucket list item for me!
I have never been on a cruise before but it is something I would love to do. Thanks for these tips!
I want to go on a cruise. These are tips that will help me when I book my first cruise.
Looks like you had a great time. I can’t cruise do to health reasons though
Thank you for these cruise tips. I have not been on a cruise but it is on my travel bucket list to go on one. And to take the family on one soon. I am thinking two summers from now – a Disney Cruise to Alaska. Alaska is the only state my husband hasn’t been to — it’s perfect!
Nice article! I would note that the amount of days at the sea “navigation time” vs days spending checking new cities to be an important factor for some routes.
Will keep all these ideas bookmarked. We are planning a cruise for our 15th wedding anniversary next spring and Im glad I got to read this before we finish planning.
Great post. We went on a cruise back in 2012, and it was amazing. But there are so many things we hadn’t considered when booking. We wound up with a tiny room that had BUNK BEDS. Hubby and I didn’t get to sleep together at all! And we were in an inner room instead of one with windows/balcony. Next time we will get a good room! Plus, we cheaped out on our food/beverage plan and wound up regretting it.
Also, consider whether or not you’re prone to sea-sickness lol. Cruising is fun but it’s not for everybody. This is a great list of things to consider.
This is very insightful. I haven’t been on a cruise before and if I ever I decide to go on one, I’d use this as a reference.
These are great tips. I’ve never been on a cruise, but I would love to do this one day. I will take note of these tips.
Going on a cruise is something which I love to do for long time, but never had a chance so far. These are some great tips to think about when you are up to book a cruise & it will be really helpful for people like me.
I’ve never been on a cruise, so there’s more to consider than I realized. I never thought about BYOB!
We’ve never been on a cruise but are considering one! Great tips!
I have always wanted to cruise but with all the cruise ship issues I don’t think I will….plus.. I am scared of sharks lol
Thanks so much for these tips! I’m considering cruising with my granddaughter and will definitely take your points into consideration when choosing the right one.
Love cruising and these are great tips.
I’ve seen lots of posts recently about board game cruises. I think that’s the way to go…but then I wonder if maybe a cruise should give me new experiences or just cloister me in with the hobby I love?
My dream cruise would be a combo cruise/land adventure in Alaska…so many different and interesting things to do via water of by bus into a national park.
Another one of my dream cruises would be boarding a paddle wheel steamer up and down the Mississippi River.
I’ve always wanted to take a cruise.