Choosing a cruise provider

When you're ready to hit the high seas, set sail with these tips.

We all need a little vacation sometime. What better way to relax and see the world than from the luxury of a cruise ship?

Check our profiles of cruise providers then follow these 10 tips before you decide to set sail:

  • Ask the provider if they are a cruise-only agent or choose an agency that specializes in cruise vacations. They are more likely to have access to specials and cruise deals.

  • Decide where and when you want to cruise and the port from which you want to embark. Certain ports and destinations are available only during certain seasonal windows. For instance, Alaskan cruises take place only in the summer, as do most cruises in Europe. Trips through the Panama Canal take place in spring and fall.

  • Decide who will be joining you on the cruise. Families have different needs and entertainment requirements than singles or couples. Make sure your agent knows who is coming and is able to recommend a package that can accommodate

  • Ask your provider about activities that appeal to you: ports of call, shore excursions, onboard facilities and amenities.

  • Decide if you have a preference about ship size. Large ships have more entertainment choices, while small ships have a more personal approach to service.

  • Determine your budget. Cruise lines give discounts for early bookings. You also can affect your costs by altering cruise dates, the length of your cruise and the region you are visiting.

  • Ask about the typical age group of those sailing on a particular line or ship. This can help you determine whether you'll be compatible with your fellow passengers.

  • Choose the level of formality you prefer. Some ships demand formal or business attire at certain dinners. Other ships cater to vacationers who want to wear only casual clothing.

  • Ask your agent about port fees. Be aware that these fees often are not included in advertised prices. They can add significantly to your cruise costs.

  • Be sure to ask about any travel restrictions or necessary documentation for your port(s) of call.

Bon Voyage!

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