So many ships! So many ports! So many routes! Let’s assume you have a favorite cruise line. Why should you choose one itinerary over another?
Before we look at itineraries, let us consider three factors that transcend destinations:
- A really great price. You have a favorite cruise line. You have status. They treat you well. The destination is secondary. The price is incredibly reasonable, they will give you a substantial cabin upgrade and you get a great onboard spend credited to your account. It’s hard to say no.
- The new ship. The line has just announced their latest and greatest ship is sailing soon. You want to be the first in your social circle to have sailed on her. You like that “new ship smell.”
- Home port advantage. You would like to avoid flying if you can. You like the idea of taking a taxi to the ship and taking a cab back home again when you return.
The Case for Different Cruise Ship Itineraries
You might choose one itinerary over another because “you’ve never been there.” Let us assume the opposite. You have already been everywhere. What makes one itinerary better than another?
- Caribbean. There are plenty of itineraries to choose. You can go for the Eastern Caribbean or the Western Caribbean. Shipboard life isn’t your primary interest. You like getting off and on the ship, exploring different ports at your own pace.
- Bermuda. You live on the East Coast. You prefer not to fly. You don’t want to spend lots of time at sea. You want a taste of British culture and traditions without flying across the Atlantic. You want Britain with beaches.
- Bahamas and a private island. You prefer shorter cruises. You don’t want to be at sea too long. You want a travel experience without a language barrier. You enjoy gambling. The Bahamas, about 60+ miles off the coast of Florida, may be for you. As an added bonus, there is often a stop at a private island owned by the cruise line.
- Alaska. You want to travel but aren’t keen about visiting foreign countries. You get seasick easily. You want to travel somewhere the US dollar is the dominant currency used ashore and your cellphone will work. The Inland Passage can be very calm.
- Transatlantic. From your point of view, the ship is your destination. Where it goes is immaterial. Shipboard life is your passion. You want a relaxing environment where you can disconnect. You like the elegance of a transatlantic liner.
- Mediterranean. There are many places you would like to visit, yet feel you would go nuts if you needed to spend a week there! You feel you could see the highlights in a day or two. You like the idea of several ports, especially when many have their own unique wine and food culture. You’ve always wanted to go to the French Riviera.
- Canada. You want to travel, but not that far. You like the idea of visiting American ports where you are covered by Medicare and your cellphone plan works. You feel Eastern Canada is an extension of the US. It’s close enough to be familiar, yet they speak French and use different looking currency.
- Scandinavia. We are talking about Norway, Sweden and Finland. Let’s add in Denmark and Iceland. The first three are Nordic countries that have great social services but high tax structures that makes them expensive places to live. You know a Big Mac meal can cost about $17 USD at a McDonalds in Norway. You would like the experience of visiting, yet bring your own hotel and restaurant with you, controlling costs.
- Extended cruises. We have met people who chose a 60 day trip around South America because they’ve taken the world cruise so many times they have seen everything. You want the opportunity to explore a country in greater depth.
- World Cruise. It’s on your bucket list. At last, you have the time available to make the trip. You’ve discovered it’s a good bargain. There are many places you have wanted to visit, but only for a day or two. You want to visit places without the hassle of flying in and out. You want to see world famous places without needing to explore them on your own. You want good tours. You want to visit places where the best hotel in town travels with you.
- Panama Canal. You want the trio of the Caribbean, along with both the Eastern and Western coasts of Mexico. You’ve heard about Acapulco as a destination of the “Jet Set” in the 1950’s and 60’s. You want to see the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal. You want to visit Mexico with a reasonably level of protection from Montezuma’s revenge.
- Mexico. You want to see the Mayan ruins while knowing the water has been bottled or purified before it is handed too you. You want to enjoy great nightlife, then have someone take you back to your floating hotel. You want to see as much or as little of a county as you like, while still being able to enjoy the sun. You want a destination worth visiting that doesn’t require a long travel time to reach.
Every itinerary has its own selling points. What have you seen that you want to see again? What haven’t you seen that is high up on your list?
Ed. Note: Browse Cruise Ships and Cruise Lines (cruisecompete.com)
Cover photo: Cruise ship at Key West’s Mallory Square with schooner on sunset cruise in background ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews