One of the most important aspects of cruising is the itinerary that you sail on. No matter how amazing Alaska could be on a cruise if you’re looking to lounge by the pool, that probably won’t be the right cruise for you. Likewise, if you’re looking to get a lot of action and adventure into your trip, a trans-Atlantic cruise with few stops will make you go stir-crazy!
The first thing to decide is where to go! Whether it’s the Caribbean or the Mediterranean or New England or the Amazon, there’s likely a cruise to where you want to go. Keep in mind though, that not all locations are available year-round. While you can sail the Caribbean in the summer, there are far fewer options than in the winter when it’s high season. If you want to cruise around the Mediterranean, Alaska, or Northern Europe, you’ll have to go in the summer because few if any ships sail those locations before April and after October. I’ve cruised to both the Caribbean and the Mediterranean and I’ve loved both of them – but for different reasons. When I sailed the Mediterranean I was much more a tourist wanting to visit the sites and experience the culture. In the Caribbean, it’s all about relaxation for me. Sure I might get off the boat to get a drink and some dinner and maybe do a little shopping, but I’m going to spend a lot of my day at the beach or by the pool on the ship. Make sure to keep in mind what type of a trip you’re looking for when you pick a destination.
Another important aspect of the itinerary that can drastically change the feel of a trip is the number of days at sea. When cruising, there are going to be days that the ship doesn’t dock anywhere, meaning you’re on the ship all day with nowhere else to go. I’ve always really enjoyed days at sea because it’s a day that forces you to relax! No matter if you’re in Alaska or the Caribbean, you can always just curl up in a chair and read a book as you watch the water go by. If you’d rather stay active, all ships offer loads of activities to do. You can go to seminars or attend wine tastings. There are art auctions and movies. There are so many different options that you can stay as busy as you want. However, if you want to maximize your time on land, make sure there are as few days at sea as possible.
Lastly, the ports of call are going to dictate which cruises you want to take. If you really want to go to Barcelona, it’s going to be hard to make it to Istanbul on the same trip since they’re so far apart. What I usually do is pick a couple cities that I know I want to go to, then look to see what my options are. It usually turns out that I can see both of them plus I learn about a new city that I didn’t even think about. Similarly, the length of the cruise will dictate how many ports you can see. While most cruises are 7 days in length or so, there are a lot of cruises that are 10+ days so that you can see even more ports. Figure out how much time you can be away (and how long of a trip you can afford), so that you know better how many ports to see!
What other cruising topic do you want to learn about? Let me know in the comments!