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Choose the Right Cruise

Cruising seems to have a bit of a cult following – people either love cruises and rarely travel any other way, or they prefer to stay on land.

Whether your a veteran or rookie cruiser, your enjoyment of the experience hinges largely on choosing the right cruise. The notion that cruises are essentially all the same can be easily disproved by looking at the incredible variety of cruise ships, types, destinations and themes.

Some critical points to consider when choosing a cruise include:

1. What type of overall experience are you looking for? Cruises range from family-oriented to couples oriented to themes such as jazz, shakespeare or motorcycle groups.

2. Would you prefer a smaller, more intimate ship with more personal attention or something more grandiose with a rock wall, a skating rink and theater performances.

3. What time of year are you cruising? This is critical. There is a reason that cruises to the Western Caribbean are cheap during September – it’s the middle of hurricane season and the Western Caribbean is the most often hit. Possibly more than any other type of vacation, bad weather can affect your cruise vacation.

4. What type of dining experience are you looking for?  Do you want scheduled dining times or open dining? Are you looking for all you can eat buffets and 24 hour dining or higher end restaurants. How personalized do you want your dining?

5. Start your planning by asking yourself what you want to see and experience, rather than which destination you want to visit. You might have the Caribbean in mind, but realize through the planning process that the mediterranean better fits your interests.

6. Ask if a cruise really is for you. The pool games, casino, and rock wall sound like they’ll fill up your day at sea but will you really participate? Will six to twelve hours in each destination be enough for you? Are you happy with the stateroom options?  If the answer to these is yes, you’re probably ready to set sail! If you’re not so sure, discuss other options – or possibly a different type of cruise – with your travel planner.

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