How To Shop For a Cruise

Whether you are embarking on your first cruise vacation or you are a seasoned traveller, it is a good idea to look at all of your options when selecting a cruise vacation. Destination ports, the amount of time that you can vacation for, whether or not you will be taking children with you, shore and land excursions that interest you, the accomodations onboard, any activities that you would prefer on your voyage, and environmental considerations about the ship or fleet are all important aspects of your decision on selecting a cruise to purchase with your hard earned money.

Destination Ports: Do you want to visit some place warm with balmy, breezy trade winds or would you like a cold wintry weather adventure? This is a matter of personal preference as to what you want to see and do on the cruise vacation. Travelling to Alaska or Vancouver may suit you well or visiting ports in Hawaii or in the Bahamas might be your thing. In either case, all cruise lines offer a variety of cruise trips with the ports you would like to visit. Depending on the ports that you want to visit, you may need to book airline tickets to get to a city closer in proximity to the Destination rather than the closest port to where you live. For instance, I could book a cruise to the Caribbean leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey or Baltimore, Maryland and if I enjoy being on the open ocean for most of the 10 days on my cruise, that is great. But if I wanted to visit more ports in the Caribbean and be on the open ocean for a little less time, then I would book my departure port out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida so I could visit an extra port or 2 while in the Caribbean.

Length of Cruise: How long do you want to go for? Most cruise lines offer short trips of 3 to 5 days to 7 days to a length of 21 to 24 days. There is an around the world tour offered by Princess Cruises that goes for 104 days, if you have the time and money!

Stateroom Selection: What kind of Stateroom should I choose? If you are looking to save money, Interior or Inside staterooms are the way to go. There is no view of the ocean, but your total cost will be less than if you had to have an ocean view. For a bit more money, you can get a stateroom with a window view of the ocean. Foreven more money, you can get one with a balcony or veranda for you to overlook the ocean from the privacy of your own spot. The rooms that cost the most money are Suites with more room and amenities than a regular stateroom.

Onboard Activities: What onboard activities interest you? You will have quite a bit of time between getting to the destination ports from your departure port. You want to make sure that you find a ship with some activities or items that interest you. Most cruise ships have a Spa, Salon, Fitness Center, Jogging Track, Pool, Shuffleboard, Ping Pong, on board shopping, and a Casino. Some cruise lines offer additional activities such as mini-golf putting greens, rock climbing wall, yoga and pilates, spinning\cycling classes, inline skating, boxing, basketball, tasting activities, a library, or comedy shows.

Environmentally Friendly Cruise Ships: Interest in finding cruise lines that are concerned with the environment has picked up in recent years. There are several eco-friendly cruise ship lines - Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Holland America, Costa Cruise Line, and Norwegian Cruise Lines. These cruise lines have done several things to make their ships more eco-conscious: Celebrity uses solar power panels andheat-transfer windows to cut cooling needs and cut electric lights needed by letting more natural light in. Holland America uses non-toxic, green cleaning supplies and replaced its dry cleaning detergents eco-friendly detergents made with soy and fruit extracts. Disney Cruise Lines has their laundry facilities use water created by the air conditioning on board the ship and uses excess heat to power evaporators turning seawater into potable water on board. Royal Caribbean recycles, eliminated plastic disposable utensils, and uses products with less packaging. All of the cruise lines mentioned also purify black water and waste water before pumping it back into the ocean. As for organic food, the Compass Deli on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Majesty of the Seas is mentioned as having a selection of organic and natural food selections. For more information about eco-friendly products and information, check out Eco-Sites.org for some good information.

Night Cruising