Points to Consider When Planning Your Cruise

by Susan Evans

Over 10 million people take cruises each year. And no, they’re not all on board those big ships you seen on TV. In fact, there are many different types of cruises:

  1. Family cruises
  2. “Geek” cruises
  3. Knitting cruises
  4. Murder-mystery cruises
  5. Music-themed cruises
  6. Singles cruises
  7. Small boat adventure cruises

…and so on! There really is a different size, theme, style cruise for everyone.

WHN TIP – Choose a Cruise That Suits You: “If you are a physically active person, look for cruises that make a lot of port calls (are at a new place daily, or every other day), or book on a ship with those crazy facilities like rock climbing and ice skating. But if that is less your thing, don’t worry about it over-much. In 15 cruises of anywhere from 7-16 days, I’ve yet to be bored.” Jacqueline Church Simonds, frequent cruiser and publisher of Happy Sails: The Carefree Cruiser’s Handbook

Your Preferences

Make a list of your preferences, ranking your preferences by priority and note areas where you might be flexible.

The Basics

  1. Number of people traveling and their ages
  2. The size of your budget
  3. The length of the cruise (6-8 days is usually the most common length offered)
  4. The time of year or season when you would like to travel
  5. Mealtime preference — Most ships have seating arrangements which are split into early or later seating.
  6. The dress code — do you prefer to go casual or dress up for certain meals or events?
  7. Additional needs/preferences — do you have special health, religious or dietary needs that need to be accommodated?

The Boat

  1. The size of cruise ship
    • number of passengers
    • overall size
  2. The type of cabin
    • size of the bed – single, queen, king
    • number of occupants
    • location on the ship – porthole, balcony, etc.

The Destination

  1. Preferred destination(s)
    • hot climate
    • cool climate
    • international
    • domestic
    • nature
    • urban
  2. Transport to the cruise ship’s embarkation point
    • flight
    • drive

Activities and Amenities

Which activities and amenities are most important to you? Here are some options, but they vary by cruise line.


  1. Casino
  2. Excursions
  3. Family activities
  4. Movies
  5. Onboard entertainment
  6. Shopping
  7. Sports – dancing, golf, tennis, aerobics, swimming pools


  1. Babysitting/Child Care
  2. Beauty Salon
  3. Fitness Center
  4. Internet
  5. Laundry
  6. Spa
  7. TV

Start Your Search

The Cruise Lines International Association has a Cruise Vacationer section to help you plan your next cruise.

Global Cruise Ship has a list of major cruise ships – complete with photos and a list of amenities.

Still haven’t found the right cruise?

  • Do a few online keyword searches to find a cruise that suits you (e.g. “Caribbean + scuba diving + cruises + families)
  • Meet with a travel agent – they can also suggest cruises that might meet your needs and budget.

Related Posts