Travel Talk with Alison: Choosing and Booking a Cruise

Freedom of the Seas

Travel Talk with Alison is featured each month in Glo Magazine. Please make sure to pick up your copy at your local grocery store. It’s free!

The popularity of cruising is increasing every year as evidenced by the number of new ships being released every year. Most new ships are bigger than the older ones, with the newest holding over 6,000 passengers!

Cruising can be one of the least expensive vacations and is very care free, but choosing the right ship makes a lot of difference in how much you enjoy your trip. There are ships that have zip lines, ice rinks, water slides, bumper cars, and wave machines!

First of all, use a travel agent. Cruise lines set the prices and it is illegal for anyone to price lower than the cruise line fares. If you see a lower price, there is usually something missing like port taxes or government fees. Some travel agents charge a booking fee so be sure to ask. A travel agent can compare all the cruise lines and will know when there are specials and which cruise line would be a good match for you.

There are three things to consider when picking a cruise-

1. Itinerary/Destination. If there is a specific island in the Caribbean that you want to see, find one that stops there. Alaska, Europe and Hawaii are destination oriented cruises. Many people who wouldn’t want to cruise the Caribbean will go on a cruise to see specific areas best seen from a cruise ship.

2. Ship/Cruise Line. Do you want to go on a new ship? A big ship? A smaller ship? One without children or one with a great children’s programs? Some ships are known for their spas or their chef. Are you looking for a lot of singles? Would you like a river cruise, or a sailing ship? Each line has strengths (and some weaknesses) and each ship has its own personality. Be wary of any agency or website that pushes you to only one brand.

3. Price. Any time, any ship, any itinerary? Just looking for the best price? Many people love to cruise and they will go on any ship or sailing to get it cheap. Rule of thumb, if you can sail $100 per person per day and that includes your accommodations, all meals, and entertainment – it is a good deal. Think of what a hotel in almost any city would cost plus meals and add in a show – it is more expensive than the cruise. Of course price shouldn’t be your only factor. An inside cabin on an old ship with poor meals going to ports that don’t interest you wouldn’t be a bargain.

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