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How to Choose the Right Cruise

Cruises can be as varied as the waters they navigate. Here are a few tips to help you choose. 

Cruise ship in Alaska, image
Photo credit
Photo: Jonathan Kingston/National Geographic Creative/Corbis
Photo caption
Small ships offer a personal feel.

“There’s a lot more to consider than timing, destination, and budget.”—AAA travel counselor Veronica Sharp

Select your ship

From intimate vessels to cruise liners as large as floating cities, ships vary widely in size. “I always ask my clients what kind of hotels they prefer,” Sharp says. “Your preferences on land are a good indication of what you’ll want at sea.”

Consider your companions

Traveling as a couple? With kids? Solo? Some cruises cater to families, whereas others are built for romance, luxurious relaxation, fitness, and so on. “The industry is increasingly specialized,” Sharp says, “so odds are good that there’s a perfect fit for you.”

Pick a waterway

Ocean or river? Depends what floats your boat, says Sharp. On river cruises, ships are smaller, the scenery shifts more often, and you stop at a port at least once a day. On the ocean, water views are uninterrupted and vessels offer more dining and entertainment options as well as a wider range of amenities.

Ponder the particulars

Are you eligible for a senior discount? Are shore excursions included in the price? What about wireless fees and cell phone service? “No question is too small to ask,” Sharp says.

This article was first published in Fall 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.