How to Pick Your First Cruise – Our Best Tips Here a simple guide to choose your perfect first cruise!

cruise ship - calm seas

Are you wondering how to pick your first cruise? For lots of people choosing which cruise to pick, as the first one,  might be a bit of a challenge. Choosing the right cruise line and the correct itinerary can make a big difference in the amount of fun you can experience. Said that let’s try to see what the options are and how to make it more simple.

Let’s dig in and discover some of the most important things to consider for your first cruise.

Age Group

Let’s face it.  Cruising has a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to the average age of passengers.  For example, you might not want to be cruising with a bunch of people that are 30 or 40 years younger or older than you. It just won’t work.

Some cruise lines target younger clientele (Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian), and others target a more mature clientele mid-40s to mid-50s (Celebrity and Princess). Holland America targets a slightly older clientele. Also, luxury cruise lines usually target an older client (55+) as well.

Celebrity and Princess also target multigenerational families. So if you are traveling with kids and grandparents, these two make a great choice.

Main Pool on a Cruise Ship - Ideal for a First Cruise
Main pool

Pick an Ideal First Cruise Itinerary

For your first cruise, I recommend picking an itinerary that is seven days or less. Importantly, you don’t know if you like cruising yet.  So, for that reason, you don’t want to be on a long cruise, just in case you don’ like it.

For your first cruise, you should also pick a port-intensive itinerary, with very few sea days.  For example, some people who have never cruised before might think they will get bored on sea days.

The most important thing to consider when booking a first cruise is to pick an itinerary that interests you.  For example, Alaska, Caribbean, and Mexican Riviera are some of the best and most popular itineraries for a first cruise. These itineraries are usually 7-8 days long, leave from an easy port to get to (Vancouver, Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles) and they are very fun overall. Other destinations like the Mediterranean or Northern Europe might be more exciting, but they require a long flight, dealing with jet lag, and more costly because of airfare and hotels.

booking your first cruise
Booking your itinerary

How to Pick The Perfect Cruise Line

Picking the perfect cruise is undoubtedly a difficult choice.  For example, each cruise line has its qualities that appeal to different types of passengers. In general, it is possible to divide the cruise line into two major groups:

Resort Style Cruises:

(Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL/Norwegian, Disney, Costa, MSC)

In this category, the ship is the main focus of the cruise. Ships have many amenities on-board, such as water slides, rock climbing walls, zip lines, skating rings, etc. Passengers focus more on the facilities on-board rather than the destination. Those ships are usually large to very large (Except Disney) 4,000 passengers and up. They cruise mostly in the Caribbean.

The typical passengers on these ships are in their mid-30s with or without kids. They enjoy sports and activities. On these ships, the destination is not as important as the fun on board. Disney is the most upscale and luxurious of this type. Royal Caribean is in the mid-range while NCL, Costa, Carnival, and MSC are more on the lower end of the spectrum. This type of cruise is excellent for kids and teens. They often offer themed restaurants and entertainment.

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship in Vancouver
Disney Wonder

Destination Cruises:

(Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Cunard, Oceania, Regent, Viking, Crystal, etc.)

Cruise lines in this category focus more on the destination rather than amenities on board. Ships have a more traditional appearance and style. They still offer a wide variety of restaurants and facilities but more conventional. Service is always impeccable. It is quite common to have special lectures, on these ships, regarding the different ports of calls or areas of the world in which they are sailing. These cruise lines often offer specialty cruises for various groups such as food and wine clubs, bridge clubs, veterans, different types of hobbies, etc.

The target passenger is in their mid-40s and up. Multigenerational families are often on these cruises. Since they are not focusing on the party scene, these cruise lines are perfect for hosting weddings or honeymoons. They usually offer packages for the wedding that include the ceremony, the reception, the photographer, etc.  Celebrity, Princess, Holland America are considered premium. Cunard & Oceania, are Luxury cruise lines, while Viking, Regent, and Crystal are ultra-luxury.

Celebrity Edge Cruise Line - Ideal First Cruise
Celebrity Edge

Picking the Ideal Budget for a First Cruise

First, the budget is also a crucial factor in deciding what cruise line to pick. Some cruise lines seem much cheaper than others, but it’s not always the case(In this article, we cover the cruise costs and what it includes).

There are four main categories of cruise lines from the cheapest to the most expensive are:

  • Mainstream: (Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Costa) these cruise lines offer very affordable fare, but they have a lower level of service than the next category. However, some services or amenities are not included in the cruise fare. For example, you’ll have to pay for extra pool towels, movies on tv, flow ride, ice cream, reserved seats for shows, etc. These cruise lines tend to have a wide variety of specialty restaurants that are not included.
  • Premium(Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, Disney) these cruise lines focus on excellent service. The cruise fare is higher than the previous one, but it includes a little more. Not included in the fare are excursions, spa treatment, casinos, drinks, and specialty dining. The variety of specialty restaurants is not as comprehensive as in the previous category, and passengers are encouraged to use the main dining room where food and service are excellent.
  • Luxury and Ultraluxury(Azamara, Oceania, Seaburn, Cunard, Regent, Crystal, Viking, etc.) these cruise lines are more expensive, but the service is the priority. On these, most everything is included except excursions, spa treatment, and casinos.

    Azamara Cruises Ship, Luxury Cruising
    Azamara Leaving Athens

The type of cabin is the other important key factor in the price of the cruise. Inside cabins are the cheapest, but they are not the best cabins for the first cruise. First-Timer can feel a little claustrophobic being in a cabin that has no natural light.

Cruise with Family or Friends First!

If you have family members or friends that are going on a cruise, why not tag along. By doing so, you will have someone to show you around, to help you navigate your first cruise and to keep you company.

If you don’t have the opportunity to cruise with them, ask for their opinion and suggestions on how to best pick your first cruise vacation.

I hope you find these tips helpful let me know in the comment below.

-Happy cruising

Andrea

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