Travel Team | Feb 10, 2023
If you've never taken one, you may be wondering, “Should I go on a cruise for my next vacation?”
We talked with experienced cruisers to get the best insider tricks and advice. What we ended up with are four important things to think about if you’re considering setting sail for the first time. Use this guide to cruises as you ask yourself if it’s worth it to add a cruise vacation to your travel bucket list.
On a cruise, you are going to spend the majority of your time with people, most of whom you will not know. While eating dinner, hanging at the pool, watching the shows, walking around the boat, and participating in the long list of fun ship activities, you will be with people.
Some travelers will find this an exciting prospect. Others are exhausted by the mere thought of it. Start by asking yourself these questions:
Yes, there will be lines at the buffet. It’s true that people can get creative poolside about relocating others’ personal items left behind to "save" their spot. And AAA expects even more people to cruise in 2023, particularly as cruise lines launch new ships this year.
The good news is that just because there will be many people on board, you’re not going to be stampeded or feel like part of a herd while you're on the ship. Most ships are quite large, so even if the cruise is crowded, it probably won’t always feel like it.
It’s a common misconception that your cruise will be “full of old people.” Some cruise lines and trips do cater to older travelers. Worldwide cruises typically have more retirees, for example, because these passengers are more likely to have the time and money needed for a months-long trip.
However, cruise lines are increasingly offering options that cater to a wide range of ages, from kids up to grandparents and everywhere in between. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), nearly a quarter of cruisers are in the 20 to 39 age range, and the average age of the cruise tourist was 47, still several years shy of retirement.
If you’re concerned less about the crowds in general and more about whether you’ll meet others from your own generation, our advice is let that worry go. Research the cruise line and find the best cruise ship for you. It’s out there.
If you like to get a lot for your money, cruising can be a great vacation option for you. While it varies by cruise line and the options you choose, cruising generally allows you to travel to and experience multiple destinations for an economical price (and you only have to unpack once).
That being said, there are a variety of options for cruising, from the very luxurious and naturally more expensive to more affordable options.
When you’re trying to decide if cruising is a good deal, ask yourself some of these questions:
Most people say cruising is worth it when you consider the expense of getting to the amazing destinations included on cruise itineraries, wonderful food and drink along the way, and great service. You don't have to lift a finger doing much of anything while you're on the ship!
The best time to book a cruise has traditionally been January through March, a period called wave season. However, as cruise lines started to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic, Black Friday in November proved to be the hot time to buy in 2022/23. In fact, many cruise lines reported having their best sales in history that day.
The colder months of wave season are a great time to plan an escape to a warm weather destination. Just be aware that the Caribbean is the most popular cruise destination, so those berths will be in high demand. If there’s a specific ship or cabin type you want, it’s better to book your cruise sooner rather than later before they sell out. Find out when fares are released, and aim to book ASAP.
If you go on a cruise mainly to lay around, eat, and be pampered, then you can certainly do this. And, other than staking out your poolside spot early in the day, you won't need to worry about a schedule. You’ll be waited on hand and foot, and you can enjoy the cruise in full relaxation mode the entire time.
However, if you want to do excursions of any type, you'll need to stick to the ship's schedule to ensure you get there on time and return on time. And if you’re late getting back, yes, they really will leave you behind.
We spoke with one person who refuses to take a cruise again for this very reason. He had to do some major hustling to avoid being left by the ship. He ultimately decided he’s better off being in charge of his own vacation timetable.
If you like the idea of someone else handling the itinerary and telling you where to be and when, you’ll probably love the way cruises include all of this in the deal without a lot of work on your part. But if you’re more of a free spirit and like to explore spontaneously on vacation, that could be more difficult on a cruise.
A lot of first timers ask, “Will I get bored on a cruise?” The truth is, a cruise can be as active or relaxing as you make it. Do your research before booking your cruise to make sure you pick one with the types of activities and amenities that best fit your style.
It is possible to find peace and quiet on a cruise. If you’re looking for a more low-key trip, ask these questions as you plan:
If you’re the active type and are worried you’ll get bored, ask yourself these questions:
Here’s a pro tip from people who have been there, done that. Choose and pay for excursions ahead of time. They can fill up fast, and you don’t want to miss out. If your prepaid excursion is nonrefundable, remember to include it when calculating your trip expenses for travel insurance. That way, you could still be reimbursed if you have to cancel your cruise.
If you’ve decided cruising isn’t for you, no worries. There are plenty of other trips out there waiting for you to find them.
But if you’re already searching for your deck shoes and sunscreen, don’t say bon voyage without protecting your investment with travel insurance first. If something goes awry on your trip, you'll be glad you did. Our licensed experts are ready to help you find the best coverage for your next cruise.
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