If you are new to cruising, there are a few things you should know. The first thing you should know is that you are definitely in for a treat! With literally millions of passengers choosing to cruise each year, the cruise industry is considered the most exciting vacation category in the United States and Canada. Cruises offer more than just one opportunity to explore one place. Depending on destination and the length of cruise, you will visit several, and in some cases dozens of different ports of call â€“ some historic or rich with nightlife, others are exotic and filled with opportunities to snorkel, animal watch, or relax on a pristine beach.
The next thing to consider is the cruise line. Everyone has their own preferences, so some people may prefer a laid back environment where dressing down is ok and others may prefer a luxury cruise, where formal nights abound. Whatever you prefer, rest assured — there is a cruise line to suit your special style, taste, and budget. Some of the most popular cruise lines in the industry include: Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean International, Disney Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line.
Silversea Cruises and Crystal Cruises are luxury cruise lines that are popular among affluent, seasoned travelers, while Regent Seven Seas tends to attract much of the same, but the ships are bigger and the environment is more â€œrelaxed.â€? Regent Seven Seas is also considered one of the most romantic cruise lines â€“ perfect for honeymoons. The newly married can enjoy French and Polynesian dining, spa treatments, waterspouts, and romantic shore excursions such as river cruises, dinner cruises, horseback riding through the mountains, wading in the water underneath a waterfall, and more.
Royal Caribbean International is considered the perfect cruise line for first-time cruisers as it attracts a good mix of passengers from different backgrounds and with different interests. This means youâ€™ll find a wide variety of activities, dining and entertainment options, and a very laid-back environment if youâ€™re the super casual type. Disney Cruise Line is perfect for families, couples, and singles looking for a festive atmosphere and excellent prices, while Carnival Cruise Line is tops for single, 20-30-somethings looking to party all day and all night long. Carnival Cruise Line also attracts young marrieds, that also prefer to party.
Next up — know your destinations. Depending on the cruise line, you can expect to travel to popular destinations such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii or romantic and exotic destinations such as Tahiti, Fiji, Australia, Bermuda, and Europe. Exotic destinations that are also popular for romance and adventure include: Africa, Asia, the Middle East, New Zealand, and Costa Rica. This list of destinations represents some, but not all of the destinations on the menu.
If you want to save, booking early and booking at the very last minute has its advantages. Additionally, certain times of the year offer discounts and savings as well. For example, May through September is high season for Alaska, the fall and summer seasons are prime times for European sailings, and while the Caribbean is a year-round destination, winter is the most popular time for Caribbean travel. Peak travel times are always more expensive than off-peak travel — so keep this in mind.
And finally, when you are ready to book your cruise, there are several options available to you. You can contact your local cruise travel agent or you can contact the cruise line that appeals to you the most. A great place to search for certified cruise travel agents is with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The site has a search function that will help you locate certified cruise travel agents or counselors in your area. If you already have a cruise line in mind, visit the cruise lines website to book a cruise (cruise lines directory), or once at the site, jot down the cruise lines toll-free number and give them a jingle.