A cruise vacation – questions to ask to kick-start your planning

Choose a cruise package and embark on a cruise adventure that will change how you think about holidays from now on. Not only are you about to take a trip of a lifetime, but one that you most likely will want to do again and again in the future.

Customizing a cruise vacation package for yourself has never been easier. You can plan, choose and book each element of your trip from home.

Or make use of the extra options your cruise line offers, such as booking flights, hotels, and transfers.

You can tailor-make your cruise vacation package to suit exactly what you and your family want from a vacation at a budget that suits you.

Use this guide to help you understand the steps to creating a cruise vacation package that is the best choice for you and your family or just for you as a solo traveler.

1. Choose a cruise

What region of the world do you want to visit?

Where do you want to go? Where have you never been that you have always dreamed of visiting?

  • Never been to Oceania and visited Australia and New Zealand? We have – check out our destination pages for Australia and New Zealand!
  • Are you dreaming about Iceland, an expedition cruise to the North Pole, or visiting Scandinavia? See our fantastic cruise vacation packages for Northern Europe!
  • Want to explore the beautiful British Isles, including Scotland but don’t know where to start? We do – the British Isles is an unforgettable cruise for many reasons.
  • Do you dream of sailing the Mediterranean from Spain to Italy and beyond? We have ideas for combining visiting breathtaking cities such as Barcelona, Venice, and Rome with your dream cruise.
  • Before cruising the Southern Caribbean, are you considering a road trip exploring Florida and the Keys?
  • Want to head on over to Seattle or Vancouver and pick up a cruise to Alaska? Yes, we know all about that too.

Ports of call and excursion options

Once you have decided on the region of the world you are interested in, find cruise itineraries in those regions and look at the listed ports of call. Next, look at the options to explore all the surrounding areas you can visit on a shore excursion.

Remember to check the dates when you will visit each port of call. Beware, if you see a port on a Sunday or a national holiday, you could find all the shops and museums are closed. Especially at European ports.

Most cruise travelers are looking for experiences in new destinations and knowledge-guided tours and transport options to get around big cities. Look to see what kind of excursions are possible. Perhaps visit a vineyard in Italy, or have a Spanish cookery lesson with a local chef. Or maybe try out a new sport, such as scuba diving or zip lining?

You’ll find out just what activities and experiences are available to you in each cruise port you visit. And remember, other fantastic destinations are within reach of your port too. For example, If your ship calls at the port in Genoa, you can visit beautiful Portofino. And from the port of Livorno, you can visit Florence, Pisa, and the stunning towns of Cinque Terre.

Which cruise lines offer the cruise package vacation you want?

When you have found several itineraries you are excited about, explore the cruise lines that sail to these destinations. Find the cruise line that best suits you and your family.

The mainstream cruise lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and MSC Cruises, have big ships with plenty of activities and entertainment for the whole family. Others offer smaller, luxury cruise ships for a more intimate cruise and a total immersion experience in the destinations you visit. Other are great if you are traveling alone and want to cruise solo.

2. Book a flight

Let your cruise company know where you live and where you can fly from. Ask for 2 or 3 suggested routes and airlines to compare prices and travel times. 

Alternatively, check out our advice for booking your own flights.

Remember to check transit times when you have a flight connection, as waiting around at the airport is just not fun. Choose the smoothest route possible if you cannot get a direct flight. 

Do not fly in on the same day your ship departs port. If your flight is canceled or delayed, you risk missing check-in for your cruise.

Plan to fly into your departure destination (if you cannot drive) some days before your cruise departure date. That way, you can experience the port city before your cruise – and create a perfect package vacation on both land and sea!

3. Book a hotel and transport to complete your cruise vacation package

Decide if you want to kick-start your vacation with one, two, or more nights at a hotel so that you can explore your departure city before climbing on board your cruise ship. 

Is your cruise ending at a different port? Lucky you! Then why not let your cruise line book you into a hotel when your cruise ends too? You finish your vacation by experiencing another city or revisiting an old favorite.

Ask your cruise company to book a transfer to and from your hotel/airport/ ship. This way, you will always get to where you should be on time.

Never before have you been able to visit more places on the same vacation as you can now. So what are you waiting for? Start exploring destinations here!

Meet the author: With more than 20 years experience from the travel industry, Mattias offers tips, expert advice and a unique perspective anchored in having worked with market leading cruise lines, tour operators, consolidators, airlines and hospitality suppliers. Read more..