Once you’ve made the decision to take a cruise for your next vacation, you’ll be excited to see a number of options offered from different cruise lines. Selecting the best cruise line can be daunting. Below are a few things to consider when selecting your cruise line.
1. Price: Cruise fees vary significantly so it pays to check each cruise line prices to see what fits in your budget. Key factors impacting price include cabin selection and the age of the ship. The bigger, newer ships will cost more those that are 10 years or older. As a guideline, Norwegian, Holland America and Carnival tend to offer the lowest prices with Princess, Celebrity, Disney and Royal Caribbean in the mid-range. Crystal, Viking, Azmara and Oceania are in the high range.
2. Age of Average Guests: If you are an empty nester or retired, you probably will not consider a Disney cruise even though the characters and entertainment is appealing to all ages. Holland America, Viking, Azmara and Crystal tend to appeal to an older clientele. Carnival has the greatest draw with the younger crowd and Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have the broadest appeal to all ages.
3. Cabins: Major factors to consider with cabin selection is size and location. For inside cabins, size vary considerably with Holland America typically offering the smallest cabin size and Carnival the largest. Also, review pricing and specials as you may be able to upgrade to an ocean view or balcony on one cruise line for the same price as an inside cabin. In addition, if you are a party of four in one cabin, the price for the 3rd and 4th passengers are significantly different per cruise line. Depending on the destination and ship, you may be able to have your kids or other family members cruise for free or very low fees if you shop around.
4. Activities: If you are seeking a quiet experience with fine dining, smaller cruise lines such as Azmara, Crystal and Viking will be a good fit for you. However, if you prefer an active schedule including extravagant shows and more of a party atmosphere, then Carnival and Royal Caribbean are the best options. Princess, Norwegian and Celebrity offer more of a balance with a good mix of entertainment, yet have secluded areas to enjoy a peaceful journey.
5. Food: Here’s the good news. All cruise lines have an extensive selection of dining options for you to choose from including five course dinners in the main dining room to outdoor grills featuring great comfort food. If you are seeking a high-end culinary experience for all your meals, then the more expensive cruise lines may be a better choice as that is one of their main selling points.
6. Special Offers: Cruise lines compete heavily against each other so make sure you review any special offers. Sign up on their email lists, talk to a travel agent or connect with the cruise line’s travel representatives. Depending on the itinerary, time and ship, you may receive free gratuities, onboard ship credit, free beverage packages or 3rd and 4th passengers travel free or at a discount.