Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Elvislove

Where Do I Even Start?

Recommended Posts

We have not cruised before and are looking to go next Winter. Where do I start to plan? I've been on RC's website but there's not a lot of detail. Any guidance is much appreciated. It is overwhelming!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would start with a vacation profile of your family.  Who is going, ages, interests etc.  Then you can match itineraries with ships and amenities.  for example- beach people or enjoy historical landmarks etc.  Are kids activities important or adults only spaces etc.  Once you have a list you can compare ships more easily.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

its sounds daunting but take it slow and try not to over think it. Almost no matter what cruise / line you choose it will be enjoyable 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first started cruising I used a TA to book as I wasn't at all familiar with it.  I haven't used a TA in years but would recommend for new cruisers.  They should take good care of you and do their best to ensure you all have a great vacation.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I too would suggest a reputable Travel agent for the first one at least.  The price will be the same and even in some cases, less expensive and you can likely even get some onboard credit and other perks as well.

Edited by ryano

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree.  My first cruise was Alaska.  Went through a local TA and got their advice.  It doesn’t cost anymore so make them do the work for you until you’re comfortable.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, why have you chosen a cruise? To be on the water? To see many places and unpack once? For the experience?

Second, where do you want to go? Alaska, Europe, Caribbean, transatlantic/pacific, etc.

Third, how long do you want the vacation to last?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, Elvislove said:

We have not cruised before and are looking to go next Winter. Where do I start to plan? I've been on RC's website but there's not a lot of detail. Any guidance is much appreciated. It is overwhelming!

 

Engage a reputable travel agent, what you are asking is exactly what they do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The great thing about cruises (IMO) are, that once you select the actual cruise, everything else simply falls into place. You never need to worry about meals or entertainment, you never need to worry about where you are going.

 

The great thing about cruising, everything is planned, you just need to to add yourself to said plan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I realize this was posted on the Royal forum but why focus on Royal?  What appealed to you about Royal vs. Norwegian, Carnival, Princess, Celebrity, etc?

 

For some, the ship is the destination while the ports are bonus.

 

There's actually lots of info on the site, but you first need to determine what your goal is and what you ultimately want to see.  Understand that you can't do everything, and that there's a possibility a port can be canceled for any of many reasons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are in the right place.  Start reading all the threads, almost every question you can think of will be asked 3 or more times a week.  :classic_biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I say you let us help you plan your cruise.  Flights, ship, excursions, activities, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For us the size of the ship is even more important than the itinerary. Neither my husband nor I like the size of the Oasis class ships. We prefer a smaller ship that may have fewer amenities, but doesn't require advance reservations for shows and activities. We're on vacation and staying flexible is important to us.

 

There's a ton of invaluable information on Cruise Critic, regardless of which cruise line you decide to go with. My suggestion is to write out a list of what things are important to you. You may be limited by the number of days you have available to cruise, which could determine what sort of itinerary you're looking at. Will you want to drive or fly to the port? How much do you want to budget? These types of questions may narrow down your choices for a good starting point. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's really no different than deciding which hotel to book for any land vacation!  Simply pick your destination, then find cruises that go to those areas.  You will have several choices of dates and ships.  Pick one. Call the cruise line, or go online, and look at the available cabins...pick the one that will work for you.  Remember, cabins are generally MUCH smaller than hotel rooms.

 

Our preferred ships are Voyager or Freedom class.  Large enough to have lots to do, and lots of public spaces, but not so large as to be daunting and crowded.

 

And, since this is your first foray into cruising, a travel agent can do most of the "legwork" for you.  I'd advise, once you know which ports you'll be going to...to research them!  You'll get more from your time ashore if you know something about the places you'll visit!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got alot of information on the Shorebee website. I gives you lots of tips per port that you are visiting.

 

Do you know where you want to go? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stay active on this forum and read the other threads.

Answer some of the questions that have been asked of you.

There are many, many people here that are more than willing to patiently answer all your questions, you just need to continue to avail yourself of their expertise! 

 

I've benefitted greatly from all the commentary here, saving much $$$, booking the best "non RCL" excursions we're ever taken, and frankly making way more of every Island we've visited than had I not found this place.

 

That being said:

 

Where do you want to go?

How long do you want to cruise?

Where do you live/ what port are you hoping to leave from?

Are you specifically looking for RCL?

What do you think you'll enjoy more - the places you visit, or the ship you sail on? 

Edited by NateUpNorth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do a general Google search, such as:

    How to plan a first cruise

 

if you know you want to cruise Royal Caribbean make your search specific:

     How to plan a first cruise on Royal Caribbean

 

So much useful information out there

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, JennyB1977 said:

First, why have you chosen a cruise? To be on the water? To see many places and unpack once? For the experience?

Second, where do you want to go? Alaska, Europe, Caribbean, transatlantic/pacific, etc.

Third, how long do you want the vacation to last?

 

 

We want to go to the Caribbean to be warm in the Winter and we've always wanted to try a cruise. I'd like to see a couple of islands we haven't been to before. 7-9 days for our vacation. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would use the search function here on CC. Select Caribbean as your destination, then the length. Expand the "Advanced Find" section to choose the length, departure port., etc. That'll narrow it down some. Then check itineraries for the ports and maybe something will stand out!

 

https://www.cruisecritic.com/cruiseto/cruiseitineraries.cfm?port=121&length=6-9

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just do some research. Find a cruise line and ship that are appealing to you and your family/group that is cruising. I remember researching for weeks before booking my first cruise. In hindsight, we definitely didn't pick the best ship (we picked an older ship that wasn't recently refreshed), but still had an amazing time and now cruise more than any other type of vacation. Generally speaking, these days, I give little consideration to the ship and more to the itinerary and balance of port and sea days. We prefer a good balance (for example, not too many port days in a row). 

 

Cruise Critic has ship ratings and there are several other places online that rate the lines and the ships. If you are cruising with a family that includes kids, I would probably recommend Royal, Carnival, or Disney as good starting points. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, Elvislove said:

We want to go to the Caribbean to be warm in the Winter and we've always wanted to try a cruise. I'd like to see a couple of islands we haven't been to before. 7-9 days for our vacation. 

An experienced travel advisor  will know the questions to ask you to best determine the ship and itinerary that meets your needs. And your desires. 

It’s the “features and benefits” thing!

All  the bells and whistles look  really good, but are you the active, sporty type? The “date night” type? Maybe your idea of luxury is a balcony overlooking the ocean, with a glass of wine and a good book. 

A good travel advisor can really help, but remember that travel agencies live on commissions. If you do spend time with a good agent, please give them the booking. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Elvislove said:

We want to go to the Caribbean to be warm in the Winter and we've always wanted to try a cruise. I'd like to see a couple of islands we haven't been to before. 7-9 days for our vacation. 

Do you have a preference in the home port? That will narrow your choices down as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good advice so far.  I'd second the recommendation to use a travel agent that specializes in cruising for your first cruise.  Many very seasoned cruisers still use a travel agent because of some of the financial perks that you get.  Many prefer to book directly with the cruise line (a periodically debated topic here).

 

Caribbean cruises are generally classified as Western Caribbean (Mexico, Honduras, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, etc.), Eastern Caribbean (Bahamas including Royal's private island Coco Cay, St Thomas, St. Martin, etc.) and Southern Caribbean (St Kitts, St Lucia, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, etc.).  I think most people would say that the Southern cruises are the best (best port stops) but you either need to sail out of Puerto Rico (San Juan) to do this in a 7 day cruise, or find a cruise from the mainland US that is longer than 7 days.  Ships just have to travel too far to get there.  Most Caribbean cruises that you'll see are either Eastern or Western, with many ships alternating Eastern one week and Western the next week.  I'd guess that Eastern Caribbean is the next favorite and Western would be 3rd.  If you've never been to any of the islands before, they will ALL seem great.  As someone else noted, it all depends on what would interest you at a port stop (beaches, history, high energy activities, etc.).

 

A warning...there is a lot of excellent info here but you will likely run into a lot of negative stuff also.  That's the nature of anonymous posting on the Internet.  Ignore the bad and soak up all of the good.   There are many very experienced and helpful people here!  Ask away.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...