For your first Cruise deciding which cruise to book can seem like a very difficult task due to having so many options. My goal is to help you narrow down your options of cruise lines with the help of this blog post. Over the course of Cruising adventures, I do recommend that you try out multiple lines to see what they all have to offer. A lot of our clients graduate from shorter cruises to longer cruises as they become “addicted” to cruising. These clients will increase their vacation budget and their ability to get more time away from work (or retire). So look at this as your first of many cruise bookings and do not stress too much about making the wrong choice. 99% chance which ever you choose, you will be happy that you took your first cruise!
If you need to take a 3 – 5 night cruise due to budget, available time, or you are testing out cruising then of your main choices for Cruise Lines will be Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and the Norwegian Sky. Celebrity, Holland, and Princess Cruise Line occasionally offer short cruises. Carnival has the most ships completing 3 – 5 night itineraries leaving from multiple ports in Florida, Galveston, TX, Long Beach, CA, and New Oreleans, LA.
The Cruise Lines typically use their Medium-Sized ships for short 3 – 5 itineraries. So if on your first cruise you want to enjoy amenities like ice skating rinks, wave rider or bowling alleys of the large ships then you will need to take a 7-night cruise. The Short itineraries typically have a younger average age of passenger. The cruises longer than 7 nights will have an older average age.
When choosing your cruise line here is a quick reference to help you choose the right cruise line-
Carnival – the FUN Ships. Carnival is rated very high for their quality of Food and Entertainment. It is a mass market cruise line that appeals to almost everyone. Ships décor is bright lights, colors, reminiscent of Vegas. Carnival has the highest rated beds at Sea…a big deal if you are looking to catch up on sleep.
Royal Caribbean – Family Oriented. Unmatched in the size of their of ships and the activities offered aboard the ship. Royal Caribbean pushes the envelope on their ship designs. Décor is a lot of Brass and Glass on all of their ships. Large Family Reunions I would consider Royal Caribbean and Carnival because they appeal to the most diverse range of people.
Norwegian Cruise Line – Freestyle Cruising. It is your vacation do thing on your own schedule and dress up for dinner if you want to. NCL are the mavericks of the cruise industry and are willing try things that are not ‘traditional’ cruising. Most cruise lines now offer an open dining option for dinner after NCL introduced it several years ago. Casino’s on NCL offer the highest limits and are my favorite. NCL is making an effort to improve their food but it ranks lower than Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
Princess Cruise Line – Described as Casually elegant. They have a good kids program but not are not as kid friendly as Royal, Carnival, and NCL. This also means that when school is out that you will not see as many kids on a Princess Cruise as the other 3 before mentioned. Princess offers Anytime Dining for Dinner and have almost perfected the concept. You are not likely to find a late night party crowd on a Princess Cruise. If you are cruise Alaska for your first cruise I would look at Princess first. Princess has been in Alaska the longest and have invested the most money in Alaska.
Celebrity Cruise Line – Celebrity is Royal Caribbean’s Premium Brand. They have impeccable food and drinks. The average age of the passengers will be older than the cruise lines above. Most of Celebrity’s ships are medium-sized ships, but they have recently launched the Celebrity Solstice which is getting rave reviews for design and innovation. The Celebrity Solstice is Celebrities largest ship and seems to be appealing to the younger demographics too.
Holland America – Holland is a Premium Brand. Holland America is geared toward the 60+ demographic. They have white glove service and highly rated food. They offer several World Cruises. I do not believe many people take a world cruise as their first cruise. I could be wrong, so if you are taking a world cruise as your first cruise leave a comment below and let us know how it turns out.
Disney Cruise Line – Disney is very kid oriented. There is not a casino. Adults to have some adult only areas on the ships to get a break from kiddos. Disney Cruise Lines food is very good. Disney Cruise line has all the characters and even gets taken over by Pirates so the Mickey can save the day. An awesome family vacation. Price will be more expensive than Carnival and Royal Caribbean for similar Itineraries.
There are several other Deluxe and Premium Cruise lines such as Regent, Oceania, Azamara, Crystal, Seabourne, etc. A future article will be how to choose the right Luxury Cruise Line.
Click on the Cruise lines above to get more detailed information. Those of you who have been on A couple of Cruises, how did you choose your first cruise and and advice you have to offer? Leave a comment!