You have figured out the who, what, when and where when choosing your cruise. If you happened to miss it, you can reference the article here: “How to Pick a Cruise“. It is quite easy to get excited about a really cheap cruise deal, so before you book make sure you investigate the particulars. Of course, always expect to pay more the longer you are at sea, as well if you choose an upgraded room, unless you are booking really close to the sail date you can get a slamming deal as they would rather fill the ship at a reduced cost rather than sail at not full capacity. Now let’s dig in a bit further. It is also important to check out the details of your ship and the details of your itinerary before you book. Last thing you want to do is plan an expensive getaway aboard a ship that is needing to be refurbished or the ports of call are not how you are looking to spend your vacation.
Let’s talk about the ship. You ask why is this all important? When I was new to cruising, I just would take a look at an itinerary, cross my fingers I was getting a good deal and book… after one not so awesome experience, never again! All cruise lines have information about their ships on their websites. I recommend taking a look before you book as it gives you a lot of insight about your ship and inevitably your vacation. You should be able to see how big the ship is, guest capacity, the year in which the ship was built or refurbished and then some other fun things such as amenities, pictures, stateroom options and destinations in which that specific ship sails. If you are looking for a more intimate experience, chose a smaller ship. If you are looking for more things to do on the ship a larger ship will probably offer more. This is good and bad as the larger the ship, the more people, so you can look at it as a good or bad thing, depending on what your preference is. The year in which your ship was built or refurbished is probably the biggest factor. If you ship is older or refurbished more than 5 years ago it will most likely not be as snazzy as those that have had a recent facelift. Not to say that it won’t be clean as most ships are, but it might be what you are expecting.
As far as the itinerary goes, this is also something you will want to explore in more detail before you book. Many of the cruise lines have been buying their own ports, especially in the Caribbean, so if you are expecting to go and see a far-off land and experience some place new, be careful to consider this. I know my family was not impressed when we ported at one. It was a day off the ship on a beach, with highly overpriced beach, food and trinkets. It is probably great if you want to relax and chill on a beach chair for the day, but we as a family usually like to go and explore as we never know when our next opportunity may be to go back.
Here is a list of the few that come to mind:
- Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas – Norwegian Cruise Line
- Harvest Caye, Belize – Norwegian Cruise Line
- Castaway Cay, Bahamas – Disney Cruise Line
- Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas – Royal Caribbean
- Labadee, Haiti – Royal Caribbean
- Princess Cays, Bahamas, Princess Cruises
If your itinerary is overseas most likely the ports will be in places in which will be authentic to your destination. Again, be cautious to look and see if you are porting in the city you are setting out to discover. It can be that you are porting over an hour or more away from where you are anticipating going. So, if you are planning on taking a shore excursion, be it with the cruise line or on your own, be sure to know that your time will be shorter due to the commute time to wherever you plan to spend your day.