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3 Steps To Choosing Your Cruise

SeaDream I & Silver Cloud
Two luxury vessels with differing on board lifestyles. Silver Cloud (right) is a bit more formal than SeaDream, which emphasizes “yachting” over cruising. From big ships to small ships, when choosing cruising, the choices can be daunting and complex. © 2009 Ralph Grizzle

So you want to go cruising but you’re confused by itineraries, stateroom categories, the differences in ships and in cruise lines? I know it can be daunting. When I first started in this industry more than two decades ago, I scratched my head for a few years before I began to understand what distinguishes one cruise line from the other.

My cruise reviews are designed to help you make informed vacation decisions so that you end up on the right vessel, in the right stateroom and on the right itinerary.

There’s a lot to sift through, but let me make it easier for you when choosing cruising.

3 Steps To Choosing Your Cruise

1. Decide On A Cruise Category

In the cruise industry, we’ve come up with a way to categorize ships. There is certainly a blurring between the categories, but it may help you to think of cruises in the following categories:

Got money to burn? Go Luxury All The Way

If you feel comfortable budgeting $300 to $1,000 per day per person, look to the luxury cruise players such as Crystal CruisesCunard Line (grill class), Hapag LloydPaul GauguinRegent Seven Seas CruisesSilversea CruisesSeaDream Yacht Club and Seabourn.

Actually, though these cruise lines command higher fares than the rest of the cruise lines on this page, luxury cruises can be a great value.


Looking To Save A Bit But Still Go In Style? Go Premium

For a bit less investment than luxury cruises, you can cruise on the upper-premium ships operated by Azamara Club Cruises and Oceania Cruises, as well as the mid-sized premium-class vessels that make up the fleets of Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line (often erroneously called, Holland American).

Big Ships Can Offer Big Value

You’ll also find cruise reviews of such popular large-ship cruise lines as Carnival Cruise LinesCosta CruisesDisney Cruise Line,  NorwgianMSC CruisesPrincess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. These cruise lines typically offer the best lead-in rates.

Families traveling together may want to look at Disney Cruise Line, although any of the big ship cruise lines mentioned in the preceding paragraph also do a great job with families.

If you love the sensation of sailing, take a look at SeaCloud Cruises, Star Clippers and Windstar Cruises.  These companies offer intimate experiences that connect you with the wind and waves while providing a closer view of marine life and ship operations. It can be an exhilarating experience, feeling the power of the wind as it fuels your voyage.

Niche Cruises offer some incredible vacation experiences, that are not only enriching but also potentially life-changing. Hurtigruten plies the Norwegian coast, and sails to Spitzbergen, Greenland and Antarctica. Lindblad Expeditions operates National Geographic expedition vessels in destinations that span the globe.

See our full list of cruise reviews.

2. Decide Where You Want To Go

After you’ve figured out your ship style, you’ll want to start scanning a world map to decide where you want to cruise. Cruising can take you just about anywhere from the vast oceans of the world, pole-t0-pole, to rivers that cut through the heart of continents. Port Profiles is designed to help you explore the various regions where cruise ships operate.

3. Find A Good Travel Agent

There are lots of good travel agents, and though I could recommend a few, I’d prefer that you rely on the recommendations of friends or scour the web to find a travel agent that best suits your needs. You won’t pay more using a travel agent than you would going to the cruise line direct, so take advantage of this great, and free, resource.

Still Undecided? See My Favorite Cruises.

I know that any vacation is a big investment, both financially and emotionally, although financially, cruising offers some of the best value vacations. My mission is to help you in any way that I can. I’ve personally sailed on most of the ships you’re here to learn about and I’ve spent time ashore in a lot of the destinations you’ll visit. I hope I can help you with your big decision!

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments. Keep in mind my responses may be slow coming back to you, but I always try to help when I can.

Bon Voyage, Ralph Grizzle

We’re always interested in your experiences aboard, so please leave comments if you have something to add in the section below. Our goal is to build a collective cruise community of voices that help all of us make informed cruise vacation decisions.

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