First Time Cruiser Series: Booking the right cruise

While sailing Alaska recently, we encountered several people who were new to cruising. After multiple conversations and the fielding of many many questions, I decided it would be beneficial to write an article dedicated to helping out first-time cruisers. But the truth is, whether you are planning on going on your first cruise, or have sailed previously, there’s likely something in here for everyone. I hope our experiences will inspire and educate you as you prepare to embark on your next journey.

Deciding on the length of your cruise

One of the most important parts to determine in your planning is how long your cruise will be. If it’s a quick weekend cruise, you might be looking at a 3-day voyage. If you want to experience something truly unique like a Panama Canal transit, you’re looking at upwards of 14 days away. You can find inspiration for the various cruise lengths and destinations on any cruise line’s website. If you’re not sure, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. How long do I have for the sailing? If you only have a long weekend, that makes it a lot easier to focus your research.
  2. What experience are you looking to have? Is it the middle of winter and you’re looking to get away from the brutal cold? A Caribbean cruise might be your focus. Or, perhaps you’re the opposite and are trying to get away from the summer heat – in that case, Alaska may be calling your name. Think about the time of year you want to go, the experience you want to have, and then, again, any cruise website will help provide inspiration. (Keep in mind that it is difficult to find any Alaska cruises that are shorter than 6-days.)
  3. How much do you want to spend? This one probably goes without saying, but the longer your cruise is, typically the more money you’ll spend per day… to a point. While I won’t get into it here, some longer cruises can actually be less expensive per day than a shorter cruise due to lower demand for the voyage. The cost overall is usually still more expensive due to duration, but your per day cost may be significantly lower than a shorter cruise.

Regardless of whether your cruise is 3- or 14-days, there are many differences when compared to what you experience when visiting your favorite hotel and casino in Las Vegas! Most cruise fares include your stateroom where you’ll sleep, multiple dining venues, and a plethora of entertainment options.

This is the theatre on one of the largest cruise ships at sea – Harmony of the Seas.

One of the hardest decisions to make when booking a cruise is the itinerary and getting everyone in your party to decide on the where, when, and how long. Once that has been determined, what comes next? In my next post, I’ll talk about booking your cruise, staterooms, and all of the things that can impact the cost.

And, as always, we’d love to hear from you! What did we miss in this post? What other questions should a first-time cruiser ask themselves when planning for their magical vacation? Let us know in the comments!

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