Cruising is one of the fastest growing holiday options right now. But with so many operators to choose from, knowing which brand and ship is right for you isn’t easy.
Should you go for the newest and shiniest ship afloat, opt for a classic ‘Love Boat’ ship that isn’t the newest but has a good reputation, or break away from the tourist pack and go for a small ship that puts quality over quantity?
There is no right or wrong answer, it just depends what you want out of your cruise.
To make it a little easier, here is a guide to finding your perfect cruise:
Almost every major cruise operator has family-friendly offerings, but some are better at it. It goes without saying that Disney Cruise Line is the perfect cruise company for families, with a huge fleet of ships bursting at the seams with beloved characters, live shows, and themed guest rooms. A downside though is most of the ships are aimed at the American market and are confined solely to the Caribbean or Hawaii. P&O Cruises on the other hand has a more Australian-focused offering and family facilities to boot including zip lines, laser tag and rock climbing. The Royal Caribbean trump cards are Ripcord skydiving and Flowrider, a surfing simulator at sea. Norwegian Cruise Lines does water slides at sea better than anyone else.
Cruising isn’t the cheapest of holiday options for solo travellers. A big part of that is that solo travellers are often expected to pay a surcharge to cover their ‘missing’ cabin mate – but not always. Norwegian Cruise Lines was the first operator to create dedicated Studio staterooms and common areas just for solo cruisers, and luckily other operators such as Royal Caribbean have followed suit. Another great cruise line is Holland America Line, who has solo activities and handy roommate matching service to help you avoid paying the single surcharge.
Living a life of luxury at sea is a travel goal for many of us. The stumbling block with these luxury ships though is you’d need to win the lottery or re-mortgage the house to travel on them. If you have a little more disposable income, these small ships offer an incredible cruise experience. A handful of the best luxury cruise brands include Paul Gauguin Cruises, Ponant, Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Uniworld.
If it’s history you seek, you can’t go past the Mediterranean. Almost every port has a centuries-old fortress, amphitheatre, or miscellaneous Roman ruin to explore. MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises are two brilliant European cruise brands, both of which have this neck of the woods down to a fine art. The key difference however is size; Costa tend to have smaller ships while MSC are practically floating mega-cities. The American-owned Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line are a happy medium, combining the benefits of a small ship with the facilities of the larger operators.
When the relaxing confines of the Caribbean or Mediterranean have lost their sheen for you, it’s time to venture a little further afield. And small ship cruising is the logical next step. Seabourn, Un-Cruise Adventures, and Lindblad Expeditions are just a few of the operators making waves (pun intended) in this space. Their cruises tend to be a bit pricier, but you are getting a more personalised experience and heading to some of the harder to reach corners of the globe. From Antarctica to Spitsbergen or the Galapagos Islands… these are cruises for the truly adventurous.
Once you’ve found a cruise brand you like, the next part of the decision is all about which ship, which itinerary, and which time of year to travel. That’s a whole other post though. In the meantime, try a cruise comparison site such as webjet.com.au.