It's a big world out there, with lots of cruise destinations to consider. So before you settle on an itinerary, ask yourself these important questions to help narrow down the seemingly endless options, and find the best cruise experience for you.
Armchair adventurers can see a lot in Europe from the windows of a motor coach, catamaran, train car, or taxi. But if you want to really dig in, you’ll get a good workout and an adrenaline rush from cruises in Antarctica or on the rivers of Southeast Asia, where you have to walk and trek in port to get the lay of the land.
If you like the idea of reading, attending lectures, watching movies, and relaxing for days on end without a port of call, consider an ocean crossing (Southampton, U.K. to New York City, for example). If you’d rather have constant stimulation, choose an itinerary that stops at new ports daily — like the Greek isles, Norwegian fjords, or some Caribbean routes.
Some of the world's most unique places are best seen by cruise — and sometimes, it's the only way to get there. Take a trip through the Galapagos to get to know the tortoises, fur seals, and blue-footed booties that call the islands home. Or go further south on an expedition to the icy solitude of Antarctica, where excursions (led by experts) take you to glaciers and penguin habitats. Or head to Norway, where you can get a true sense of the majesty of the fjords right from the deck of the ship.
Bringing children changes everything. Pick itineraries that have frequent ports of call with nearby sightseeing options. The Caribbean, with lots of beach days, is obviously a great choice for cruising with kids. Or go further afield to destinations in Europe — Barcelona, Venice, Naples — or Alaska, where you can hike, kayak, and even go dogsledding.
Your companions want action, but you just want to lay out every day, alternating between the pool deck and the beach of whichever gorgeous location you happen to dock. That's an easy one. The sun shines bright in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Southeast Asia pretty much year round, so you can bronze while everyone else explores. If it's summer here, head to the Mediterranean to tan with the Europeans. Australia, with its alternate seasons, is obviously a good bet during our winter.
Easy: Choose an itinerary that's within driving distance of home. This doesn’t just mean departing from Florida. There are ocean cruises sailing out of New York, Boston, Galveston, and New Orleans as well as major cities in California and Washington State. River cruises are another option. You can find them on the Mississippi and its many tributaries, or on the rivers of the Pacific Northwest.