A cruise is a cruise, right? Think again. There are so many different types of cruises that it pays to be a little fussy when choosing the right one for you.
The big one – where do you want to go? Cruises take in a number of destinations, so you can choose from regions as diverse as the Caribbean, Alaska or European Rivers. Or you may prefer a cruise that travels between continents, such as a transatlantic cruise or something completely different like an expedition cruise or a tall ships cruise.
Once you've decided where to go, think about the type of onshore activities you would enjoy. Do you want action and adventure, a shopper's paradise or a good dose of art and culture? Whatever you want to do, there are shore excursions that will show you the very best of your cruise destinations.
All cruise ships have onboard activities and facilities to keep you entertained the whole time you're on board. Family cruises focus on activities that will entertain parents and kids – both together and separately. If you're all about pampering and fine dining, there are a number of luxury cruises that can indulge your every whim.
Who do you want to share the ship with? If you're travelling with children or teenagers, you may prefer a family friendly cruise so you know that your young companions will be entertained with kids and youth programs, and warmly welcomed on board. If you prefer an adult-only environment, that's fine too as there are plenty of cruise lines that are geared towards adults. Or if your passion is food, music or art, why not share your trip with like-minded people and go on a special interest cruise? Longer cruises and more exotic destinations tend to attract an older crowd. Check out the onboard facilities and activities to estimate the age of your fellow passengers.
The Cruise Ship
The last 15 years have seen a transformation in the cruise industry. Today's mega ships are engineering masterpieces at sea, home to bowling alleys, cinemas, theatres and more. Cruising offers a great deal of choice, so if you want the excitement of sharing a floating city with several thousand others or a more intimate experience, there are plenty of cruise ships to choose from.
Most cruise ships have great facilities for disabled people and those with limited mobility. If you’re going on a river cruise, bear in mind that many older ships do not have a lift and passengers must access the upper and lower decks by stairs. If using a lift is essential for you, check there is one on board before you book. Find out more about accessible cruising.
There are ways to get extra value from your cruise vacation with cruise specials and early booking discounts. Many cruise lines offer great discounts for early bookings, so it may be possible to upgrade to an outside cabin at no extra cost, or save on the overall cost of your cruise. Repeat cruisers can join cruise loyalty programs (this can be done on your first cruise). These programs are a fantastic way to get extra benefits from your very first cruise.
Last Minute Cruise Deals
Book a last minute cruise and you could bag yourself an unbelievable bargain, but this can be risky if you’re restricted to travelling on certain days or have your heart set on a particular destination. If you’re flexible on your departure dates and destination, great cruise deals can be found last minute.