Is a 7 day cruise too long? Or will it be your best cruise vacation ever?

Search for a 7-day cruise and you will be spoiled for choice. Every cruise region in the world from Alaska and the Caribbean to Europe and beyond to Asia and Australia offers an wide array of fantastic 7-day itineraries.

But what can you expect if you a first time cruiser on 7-day cruise? It is the most popular length of time to cruise. Ask guests who are cruise veterans if shorter cruises are better, or, for example, is a 4-day cruise long enough, and many will say no. On the other hand, others think that a long cruise of 10 days is too long, especially if the itinerary has many sea days.

A 7-day cruise is often a perfect length of time to be on board a cruise ship. It’s enough time to get to know your ship and try out all the facilities available; there are plenty of opportunities to test out all the dining options on board and pick your favorite of the specialty restaurants. And there are enough hours in the day to relax and make new friends with fellow passengers which is so much fun, or head out on a shore excursion adventure.

With careful planning, there are ways in which you can make sure that a 7-day cruise is perfect for you and all family members. Here are 5 top tips for making the right choice of cruise for your week-long sailing:

1. Your itinerary and ports of call

The key to a great week of sailing is the itinerary you choose. And if you are able to be flexible on your sail date, the more choice you have. Ask yourself if you are cruising primarily to spend time on board and enjoy the ship, or if you are want to book a cruise as a luxury way to travel to visit as many destinations as you can within seven days.

The reason you want to book a cruise will influence the itinerary you choose. And the cruise ship you want. If you wants to make the most of the cruise ship and all the amenities, activities and dining experiences it offers, you may want an itinerary with more sea days. Likewise if the cruise ship is the most important factor, you could want one of the newer ships that offer a huge array of all of these things.

If the destinations you will visit is the focus of your cruise holiday, then choose an itinerary has many port days. One that will get you to as may places as possible where you wake up in a new port every morning. Well,almost every morning. Most 7-day cruises have, on average, 5 ports of call. The actual cruise ship you sail on will take second place. You may then be content to sail on an older vessel, one that is still great but has fewer “bells and whistles”.

2. A cruise line that offers your style of cruising

By this we mean choosing a cruise line for the type of cruise you want. Cruise lines very often come with their own personality. Choosing for example, a journey with Seabourn Cruises, an ultra luxury cruise line, offers a very different experience to cruising on board Royal Caribbean’s busy resort-style ships, best known for family and multi-generation cruising.

If you are an older couple who are looking for a calmer cruise with good food yet still on a large ship, Celebrity Cruises may suit you. And if you want to cruise solo, a single cabin onboard Norwegian Cruise Line could be just what you’re looking for. The important thing is to find the right cruise line. So your 7 days on board are relaxing, fun and exciting – exactly how you want them to be.

3. A region that hits your bucket list destinations

A 7-day cruise will never be too long if you choose the region of the world where you are most excited to visit. If you are planning a first time cruise, the most visited regions for guests new to cruising are the Western and Eastern Caribbean including the Bahamas, the Mediterranean and Alaska. While being vastly different types of cruise experiences, these rarely disappoint and once visited you most likely will be hooked for life. It’s no wonder these regions attract visitors time and time again on 7-day cruises.

4. Extend your cruise vacation with a hotel stay

Turn your cruise into a holiday package by adding pre- or post cruise hotel nights. Your origin and destination ports can otherwise be missed if you do not spend the night. On embarkation day, you barely have time to explore the city before it’s time to check in to your cruise at the port. Arriving a few days early will allow you to spend time exploring, so you experience more than just the disappearing skyline as your cruise ship leaves the port.

The same applies after your cruise. If you return to the same port, perhaps there are places further afield worth visiting before your vacation comes to an end. In Nice, for example, you are very close to Monte Carlo. In Rome, you are not that far from Naples and the Amalfi coast. And in Southampton, a few days in London after your cruise is almost a must.

If you have chosen a cruise that ends in a different port, then extend your stay with hotel nights to create a great holiday package. The most popular cruise packages includes destinations in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Scandinavia and the Norwegian Fjords, and Alaska.

5. Cruise at the right time of year

Many cruises go year-round. For example those offering Caribbean itineraries. And that’s not surprising given the warm temperatures and the many days of sunshine guaranteed every year. But choose when you cruise carefully. Hurricane season is often at its peak during September. So if you are flexible regarding travel date, it’s smart not to book a cruise at a time where delays if missed ports of call are more likely.

Yes, a 7 night cruise can be a lower price during these periods, but way up if the savings you make are worth the risk of increasing your chances of disappointment that the cruise itinerary may be changed due to bad weather, or worse still, cancelled completely.

In the Mediterranean, there are only a few cruise lines that offer sailing out of season. Peak travel time in the Mediterranean on board cruises from destinations such as Barcelona, Rome, Venice and Athens is in the summer months.

A great alternative if you want to cruise in the winter months, is too head to regions such as Australia and New Zealand. Their cruise season is from around October to March, during their spring and summer. In fact the most popular time to cruise from Sydney or to board a cruise from Auckland is over the seasonal holiday in December.

Alaska cruise season starts in May and ends in September, as do the cruise lines operating in Scandinavia. Most notably the journeys that take you to the spectacular Norwegian Fjords. Warm, balmy summer days offer the best cruising when snow has melted and water falls are at their peak. And remember, your cruise packing list should reflect the clothing you need for the region you are visiting.

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.