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First Time Cruiser Guide

How do I decide on which cruise is right for me?

This is the most frequently asked question at

Deciding on which cruise line is right for you is very challenging because there are so many variables to consider.  Since most cruises offer the same basic services and amenities, it really comes down to personal tastes.


Cruises enable you to visit multiple cruise ports for one low price, without the hassle of arranging multiple stops and hotel arrangements or packing and repacking every couple of days. Your cruise vacation begins the moment you step onboard. And now, there are many cruises within driving distance from your home.
What's Included in the Cruise Price:

Cabin or suite accommodations
Gourmet dining
Supervised children's programs
Broadway style shows
Activities like tennis and basketball
Workout facilities, pool and hot tubs
Milk, juice, coffee and tea

What's Not Included:

Spa treatments
Alcoholic beverages and bottled water
Casino gambling
Organized tours & activities onshore
Nominal fees at some specialty restaurants
Some cruise lines charge for specialty coffee drinks

Today's cruise ships offer activities and entertainment for people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors. Family-friendly cruises may feature everything from kid's clubs to teen coffee houses. Want to unwind? Activities are as diverse as spa treatments, mini-golf, and casino gambling. At night, you might catch a comedy show, relax in a piano bar, or feast on five-star cuisine.  From luxury to adventure, there's a ship to suit your vacation needs.

Unique ship features may include:

Rock-climbing wall
All-ocean view and or all-suite accommodations
Martini & champagne bars
Teen discos
Thalassotherapy pool
Spiral waterslide
Butler service
Miniature golf
Poolside movies

To assist you further in finding the perfect cruise vacation, please read below or contact at 1-866-622-7447 or e-mail us at and one of our vacation consultants will be happy to assist you.

1. Destination - The first question that should always be asked is where you wish to cruise to.  The most common cruise destinations are:

Alaska and Alaska Cruise Tours (7 days and longer)
Bahamas (3 and 4 days)
Bermuda (7 days and longer)
Canada/New England (4, 5, 7 and 10 days or longer)
Caribbean Eastern (7 days or longer)
Caribbean Western (4, 5, 6, 7 days and longer)
Caribbean Southern (7, 8, 9, 10 days and longer)
Europe Northern Baltic (7, 10, 12, 14 days or longer)
Europe Mediterranean (7, 10, 12, 14 days or longer)
Hawaii (7, 10, 15 days and longer)
Mexican Baja (3 and 4 days)
Mexican Riviera (7 and 10 days)
Panama Canal (10 days and longer)
South America (14 days and longer)
South Pacific (7 days and longer)

This is just a sample of destinations and length of cruises.

2. Length of Cruise - This is always the next question that must be answered.  If you are looking for a 3 or 4 day cruise, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line dominates this market.  However, if you are looking for a 7 day Caribbean Cruise,  every major cruise line offers this option.

3. Departure Date - Below is a guideline.

Alaska and Alaska Cruise Tours (May through September)
Bahamas Cruise (Year-Around)
Bermuda Cruise (April through October)
Canada/New England Cruise (May through October)
Caribbean Eastern Cruise (Year-Around, limited cruise line choices)
Caribbean Western Cruise (Year-Around, limited cruise line choices)
Caribbean Southern Cruise (Year-Around,limited cruise line choices)
Europe Northern Baltic Cruise (April through October)
Europe Mediterranean Cruise (April through October)
Hawaii Cruise (Limited Year-Around)
Mexican Baja Cruise (Year-Around)
Mexican Riviera Cruise (Year-Around)
Panama Canal Cruise (Limited Year-Around)
South America Cruise (October through April)
South Pacific Cruise (October through April)

4. Your Cruise Goals - What is your main reason for cruising?  Are you wanting to relax or do you want to be really active?  Do you like lavish Las Vegas style shows or are you more into lounge shows?  Do you have children that need to be entertained/supervised while you have some alone time?  How important is excellent service compared to activities onboard the ship? Do you want a smaller more intimate ship or do you want to cruise on a mega-ship with a list of activities to keep you busy from morning until night?

Below are some questions often asked along with our recommendations.

I have a family, who has the best children's program?

1. Disney (Expensive)
2. Carnival (Best Choice)
3. Royal Caribbean (Best Choice)
4. Holland America
5. Norwegian
6. Celebrity
7. Princess

I want to be really active and don't mind large mega-ships.

1. Royal Caribbean (Best Choice)
2. Carnival (Best Choice)
3. Celebrity
4. Holland America
5. Princess
6. Norwegian
7. Crystal

I want to relax and have excellent service on my cruise.

1. Crystal (Very Expensive)
2. Holland America (Best Choice)
3. Celebrity (Best Choice)
4. Disney (Expensive)
5. Princess
6. Royal Caribbean
7. Carnival
8. Norwegian

I want to have excellent food on my cruise.

1. Crystal (Very Expensive)
2. Celebrity (Best Choice)
3. Disney (Expensive)

4. Holland America (Best Choice)
5. Royal Caribbean
7. Princess
7. Norwegian
8. Carnival

I am 20 to 45 years old and want to be around people my own age.

1. Royal Caribbean
2. Carnival
3. Norwegian
4. Celebrity
5. Holland America
6. Princess
7. Crystal

I am 45 to 60 years old and want to be around people my own age.

1. Celebrity
2. Holland America
3. Royal Caribbean
4. Princess
5. Norwegian
6. Crystal
7. Carnival

I am 61 years old and want to be around people my own age.

1. Holland America (Best Choice)
2. Crystal (Very Expensive)
3. Princess (Best Choice)
4. Celebrity
5. Carnival
6. Norwegian
7. Royal Caribbean

I am physically challenged and need assistance.

1. Holland America (Best Choice)
2. Princess
3. Crystal
4. Celebrity
5. Norwegian
6. Carnival
7. Royal Caribbean

Most cruise ships hold between 1,500 and 3,000 cruise passengers.  No matter which cruise line you choose, there will be many people that are your age.  I would base most of my decision on  excellent service over activities of interest.

5. Best Cruise Price - There are four major factors that affect cruise prices. The first being the type of cabin you wish to stay in, the second is length of cruise, the third is the cruise line you choose and the forth is the time of year you cruise.

1. The type of cabin you choose - Obviously the least desirable cabins, inside staterooms, are the least expensive, followed by the obstructed ocean view cabin, porthole cabins, then window ocean view cabins, followed by balcony cabins with the most expensive being suites with balconies.

My recommendation is to purchase the best cabin you can afford.  If you can afford a balcony cabin or suite, it is worth the money.  There is nothing like waking up and having breakfast or enjoying an evening cocktail on your private balcony.

2. Number of Nights - In general the more nights you spend on a cruise, the more you will spend.  However, some last minute 7 day and longer cruise specials make them less expensive than a 5 day cruise.  The best way to find the lowest fare is to sign up for our cruise sale email notification service and watch for what you are looking for.

3. Cruise Lines - This is a very fuzzy area and there is no set rule as to which cruise line is less expensive or which cruise line is the best value.  In years past, there was a huge difference between the Premium Cruise Lines (Holland America, Celebrity and Princess) and the Mass Market Cruise Lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian).  However, on today's cruise ships there is very little difference except for the service you receive and some extra options and amenities.  In addition, some of the very large Mega-Ships offer activities that are not available on most of the smaller cruise ships.

4. Time Of Year - There are fairly concise rules when it comes to finding the best cruise price based on time of year.

High Cruise Season
February, March and April (Spring Break)
June, July and August (Summer Vacation Period)
All Holidays including the last two weeks of December

Value Cruise Season
First two weeks of December are usually the least expensive
September, October, November, January and May (in this order)

I hope that this brief summary has helped you choose a cruise line. If you have additional questions, we will be happy to assist you in anyway possible.

This article is the opinion of  Each cruiser might rank cruise lines differently. offers the lowest rates on all Cruise Lines. Call 1-866-622-7447 today, to receive a personalized quote on your perfect Cruise Vacation.

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