With nearly 100 ships to choose from, this becomes a very important question for the first time cruiser, especially as many of us can be very easily taken in by the glamourous & glossy brochures, clever marketing and promises of perfection. This can often leave you feeling as though every ship will be good for your needs and only the price need be a consideration. This isn't so i'm afraid! If you choose your ship on price alone, you may come back disappointed!
Firstly most cruise ships fall roughly into one of 3 categories - budget, premium or luxury. As with anything, the more you pay, the higher the level of personal experience you expect. The main difference between luxury liners and the others is usually that the staff to customer ratio is higher - meaning that those cruise lines employ more staff to attend to your personal needs - hence being able to receive butler service and the like.
The first thing i would recommend is read to read as many customer cruise reviews as you can - that way you can many different perspectives from real people who have sailed onboard the ship. Often this way, you can see a little further than the brochure discription. For example, you may read a ship has a theatre with nightly shows and feel this is adequate for you but what the brochure won't tell you is the types of shows, whether they are performed by professionals or by amatuers, how good the view or sound is, whether the theatre gets very full quickly etc.
If you have kids, look out for ships with the best activities for kids. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line are some of the best family ships. Fitness fanatics have it pretty easy as all ships have spas, gyms, jogging tracks and exercise classes. Royal Caribbean goes even further than that - Its Voyager class & Freedom class ships (Voyager, Adventurer, Explorer, Freedom of the Seas) have rock climbing walls, roller blading and ice skating.
If you’re traveling with a large group of family or friends, i would look for a large ship with plenty to do for all age groups, such as Royal Caribbean’s Voyager/Freedom class ships.
If you are on your honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary, you may wish to opt for a small more intimate ship such as the Windstar ships, with their high standard of cuisine and personal service. Alternatively you may wish to have a completely child free cruise and opt for an adult only ship such as P&O's Artemis or Arcadia.
Besides going ashore, what are your personal preferences to how you spend your time onboard? While all large cruise ships have theatre shows and bands, they’re not necessarily equal in terms of quality - this is usually where reviews will help you decide.In the large ship category, Celebrity Cruises stands out in food and service or if you’re feeling flush, head for a luxury vessel like Crystal, Radisson or Silverseas for gourmet dining and personalized service. Crystal Cruises have guest lecturers and computer classes so that you may sail & lean all at the same time!
Whichever ship you choose, as long as you have researched it thoroughly, should ensure a wonderful holiday! Try www.idealcruising.co.uk for the best value cruise holidays today.