choose your cruise

How to choose and book your perfect cruise

How to choose your cruise can be daunting as there are so many cruise lines and itineraries on offer to select from.  Where do you start? How do you know which cruise to choose? Will it be for you? You don"t want to spend a lot of money to not enjoy it.

I will discuss an easy step by step process on choosing and booking the best cruise that is perfect for YOU.

1. Choose an itinerary

a toy ship sitting on a world map with pen and glasses

First step is to choose your destination or region you want to visit. This is probably the hardest part as there are cruises in virtually every part of the world.

  • Asia
  • Australia to New Zealand or Pacific Islands
  • South America
  • Antarctica
  • Caribbean and Central America
  • USA to Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico
  • Europe – Mediterranean, Baltic Sea, European river cruising
  • UK to Europe
  • Around the world cruises

As you can see there are so many to choose from. Therefore, you first need to decide HOW you will choose the cruise you want.

  • Choose by weather. If you want sunshine every day, I would choose a Caribbean cruise over an Antarctica one! Also, a good idea to avoid monsoon/cyclone/hurricane season.
  • Choose by location. Look for cruises near to your home so you don’t have to take long flights to get there eg. US travellers can look at Alaskan or Caribbean cruises.
  • Choose by scenery. Perhaps there are places on your bucket list you desperately want to see and a cruise would be a great way to visit.
    My dream is to visit Antarctica this year.
    My parents had Alaska on their minds for 5 years when they finally booked a Holland America Cruise for Dad’s birthday. They loved the amazing scenery.
  • Choose by special deals. Sign up to cruise alerts such as Cruise Direct ‘last minute cruises’ and select your cruise by the specials offered. Saving you money!!

2. Choose a cruise line

choose your cruise from this collage of cruiseline company names and logos

If you’re a cruise junkie, you may already have your favourite cruise lines. If you’re new to this type of travelling, below is a rough guideline on selecting the cruise lines that suits your travelling type.

Older/mature passengers (usually Premium cruiselines) – Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity cruises, Silversea, Oceania Cruises.

Families – Carnival Cruises, Disney Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean.

Mixed age/fun atmosphere – Carnival Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, P&O Cruises.

3. Select a cabin

a map of every deck for a particular cruise ship

Now that you’ve selected your ideal cruise, its time to book the cabin. Prices will vary according to;

  • Deck level – the higher the deck, the more you pay.
  • Inside/outside cabin – outside cabins have port holes or large windows and therefore cost more than inside cabins. Outside cabins with balconies are more expensive again.

I’m often asked which is the best location and I always say its mid ship. You’ll experience the least amount of movement here. It's an ideal location if you are prone to sea-sickness or don’t want to be rocked to sleep!

Also, avoid the rear end (aft) of the ship on the lower decks – sometimes you may hear the ships' engines.

On the upper decks, avoid the cabins located close or directly beneath the night club. Unless you like to party of course.

Cruise line brochures and their websites always contain a plan of every deck and colour code the cabins according to price. Thereby making cabin selection easy.

4. Read the fine print

a person holding a sign with terms and conditions written on it

Once you’ve booked your cruise online or work with a travel agent, you will receive a confirmation and documentation. Please do take the time to read and check the following.

  • Payment details – dates when deposits and balance payment is due.
  • Amendment fees – check the cost involved should you need to change your booking later (upgrade cabin or change dates).
  • Cancellation fees – check the fees in the unlikely event you need to cancel. Cancellation fees increase incrementally the closer you get to your departure date.
  • Visa requirements – check if any of the destinations require a visa for your passport. Sometimes, the cruise line will inform you if a day tourist visa will be organised by the ship for the passengers. If they don’t, then you’ll need to apply for the visa yourself online, direct with embassy or through your travel agent.
  • Booking details  - ensure the following:
    - that your names are spelt correctly, as per your passport
    - cruise dates are correct
    - cabin details you selected are correct
    - flight dates and times are correct, if you asked the cruise line to also book the flights. Sometimes cruise lines will offer airfare deals with your cruise.

5. Other stuff you might need to know

Theme nights – check if there is a formal or theme night so you can bring appropriate clothing and join in on the fun.

Power points – check if the cabins will have the relevant power points to use your cables and electrical items. If not, be sure to pack a travel adapter with you.

Voltage – check if your cabin offers both voltage types – 110v (USA, Canada) and 220v (Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand).

Weather  - check the weather so you can pack appropriately.

Choose your cruise now and sail away!

Once all the planning and booking is done, all you have to do is try to patiently wait for the sailing date.

Comment below to share your cruise planning tips. Do you have any questions on how to choose your cruise holiday that wasn’t covered above? Or even how to book a cruise? Send me a message below.

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About the Author Lisa

A travel gypsy by heart, having already been to over 70 countries and still counting. Founder of Travel Groove, to share travel tips, tricks and knowledge with other travellers.

  • Denise says:

    I followed your steps and it works wonderfully! I also like reading the cruise critic reviews of passagens to know the qualities and faults on the cruise ship and cruise line… so I know what to expect!

    • Lisa says:

      Excellent work. I’m always a bit wary of reviews because there will always be someone whinging about something.I work on the plan that if a cruise ship has more negative reviews than positive, then that’s a sign to stay away!

      • Denise says:

        I evaluated the content because if it was complaining there were not enough activities for kids this item doesn’t affect my interest but if it was complaining that the rooms were not clean then I would give attention … I also evaluated the percentage of the complains over the total comments grade.

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