Cruises are the most versatile of vacations no matter what your age. Not only that, it’s a great way to bring the whole family but still have time alone with your spouse while the kids-only activity coordinators take charge of your children’s fun.
The first step to putting together a great cruise vacation is to find yourself a travel agency that specializes in cruises, or to book directly through a cruise vacation Internet site.
Before you contact the travel agent though you need to determine when you’re going, where you’re going and from which port you’ll depart and to which you’ll return.
There are some seasonal rules of thumb about your destination. If you’re limited in the time of year you can get away then you’re also somewhat limited in your destination. You can’t, for instance, cruise the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska any time during the summer. Europe has about the same seasonal restriction as well. If you’re planning on heading out in the spring or fall you might want to consider an excursion up and down the Panama Canal. Just about any time of year, including the winter, you can cruise to Asia or the Caribbean.
Determine who is going to go with you. Knowing if children or seniors will be a part of your vacation group will effect which trip offers the best choices of entertainment for your party. In fact, it’s best to gather everyone together, or conduct a phone or e-mail discussion of what everyone wants to do. You need to know if crafts are important; how many are going to lounge by the pool; who wants to get off and explore at the first land stop; who prefers exotic locations and who’d rather just play shuffleboard.
The size of the ship can be important as well. Larger ships have a vast variety of entertainment options, such as dancing and stage shows, although smaller ships may provide a lower guest to staff ratio, and thus more personal attention to your needs.
Know how much you and the others can spend. If money is a critical factor look for discounts for booking early, or starting out on a different day or different week from your original request. Staying flexible can save you considerable money. Ask about port fees as well. These are not usually included in the quoted cruise cost and may cost you dearly. You’ll also be expected to tip room stewards and wait staff.
If you’re not going as a large group and you might be interested in getting to know your fellow passengers then be sure and inquire about the usual demographics of these travelers. If you’re 20 something and it’s a baby boomer cruise you’re apt to be bored. If you bring your grade schoolers and most of the other kids are in their teens they won’t have enough playmates and you’ll be their entertainment for the extent of the cruise.
One very important inquiry to make of your travel agent as well is the formality of the cruise that you’re considering. If you show up with a suitcase full of swimsuits, shorts and sunscreen only to find out formal dress is required at dinner you’re going to be embarrassed or hungry the entire excursion.