Going on a Cruise can be one of the most fun kinds of vacation to go on and depending on where you are going on your Cruise can also be one of the hardest things to choose. Most often a Caribbean cruise is easy to choose because of the few destinations and the limited number of cruise lines. The same applies to Hawaiian cruises however they are even more limited as far as the number of cruise lines. I like to concentrate on giving advice on choosing a European cruise focusing on Mediterranean cruises because there are so many cruise companies and cruises to choose from.
I want to start with the number of Cruise lines there are for Mediterranean Cruises. There are 5 major cruise lines that have cruises scheduled for destinations in the Mediterranean sea and at least another 7 regional lines. The major lines normally have big mega ships and are able to accommodate anywhere from 1500 to 2200 passengers in a wide variety of state room sizes and prices. The regional lines normally have smaller ships but can still be up to two thirds the size of one of the mega ships. Some of the small lines are ultra luxury lines with starting prices in the four to five thousand dollar per person range.
With this information in hand how do we use it to pick a Cruise line and a Cruise. First we can start with how much money you have to spend, if you are on a limited budget you can eliminate the ultra luxury lines, if you have a large budget you include them. Now start asking yourself some questions, for example. Will the Cruise be the only part of your vacation or will you be staying in the country for a while. Do you want your cruise to start and end in the same city or start in one city and end in another. Are these cities the ones I want to go to and what is there to see there. These are important question to ask yourself because of the options that are available to you and for arranging your flights.
As you ask yourself more question it may seem a little overwhelming but as the process goes on it will get easier and you will understand why all the questions. For example one Cruise line has a couple western Mediterranean cruises, one leaves from the port in Barcelona Spain the other leaves from a port in Italy near Rome. Both cruises go to 4 of the same ports and 3 different ports which leaves the question which city do you want to leave and return from the Cruise and your flights. Also which of the 3 different cities that each cruise is going to would you like to see.
Some Cruise lines focus on cruise destinations in the western part of the Mediterranean going to ports in western Italy eastern France, Spain and northern Africa where others will go to eastern Italian ports and go to the Greek mainland and Greek islands as well as Turkey. This information will also help you narrow down your search as well.
Now we need to discuss how long you want to be on a Cruise and where on the ship you want to be. There are cruises that last for 7 days 10, 12, 15 and up to 24 days and the longer your cruise the more decisions you will have to make. Stating with where on the ship you want to be and what kind of room. If you have a big budget you can go just about anywhere on the ship and the Cruise line will have a big list of stateroom options as far as layout how many beds and with or without a balcony.
Unless you feel as though you will have a problem with seasickness. If you think this will be a problem you should consider an inside stateroom which are in the middle of the ship. Being in this part of the ship you will not feel the motion of the ship rocking back and forth nearly as much as if you have an outside stateroom with or without a balcony. The simple reason is, remember when you were a child playing on a teeter totter the ends you were sitting on went up and down real far but the center of the board didn’t seem to move much at all the same principles apply to the ship.
With picking a stateroom out of the way we need see what other decisions need to be made for what options. The first options will be for seating arrangements for dinner, many cruise lines give you the option of traditional cruise seating which is being assigned seating with other passengers. The other option is called free style seating which means you go to dinner as a couple as if you were going out for dinner in your home town with your own table. Some cruise lines still have no options and has assigned seating.
The last options you will have to decide on will be the shore excursions you will take in each port city when you get off the ship, of course you don’t have to get off the ship if you don’t want to but why wouldn’t you want to. For each port the ship docks in the Cruise line will have a list of excursions to choose from ranging from just a bus ride to and from town for you to do whatever you want to guided tours of sightseeing attractions in that city. These excursions will be listed on the Cruise lines web site to look over. I would recommend booking them before leaving for your cruise because you can take your time in choosing what to see in the comfort of your home. You will also avoid standing in line on the ship while trying to book an excursion. The other reason for book at home is in some cities some excursions are very popular and if you try to book on the ship you may find the excursion you want is sold out.
These are all the major decisions you will have to make regarding the actual Cruise the one thing I want people to remember is the Cruise lines rarely have excursions to the port cities where the Cruise starts and ends. With that in mind you will need to figure out how much time you would like to stay in that city for sightseeing either before or after the Cruise.
Whether your entire vacation will be used for a cruise or as part of it hopefully the information provided here will make it easier for you to make the right choices for your vacation.