Choosing the cruise for you
The Right Ship
The key to getting the most from your cruise is choosing the right ship, not just the right itinerary. Think of your cruise ship as being like your hotel. Do you prefer small, intimate, refined hotels or the opulence of a larger hotel? Just like hotels, every cruise line has its own personality and style of cruising, from laid-back and luxurious to fun and feature-packed. You’ll find more information on cruise lines on the cruise lines page.
Once you know your type of ship and your destination, budget, facilities and what type of view you wish to wake up to every morning our expert will narrow your choice down. Our cruise experts have been trained by the cruise lines themselves and have first-hand experience of many of the ships and destinations, so a quick chat with them will help you find your perfect match.
Thomson & Island Cruises
Generally speaking the level of activities available on budget cruise operators will not be as extensive as on the other cruise lines, however there will be a very relaxed atmosphere and a great freedom of choice. For example there are no formal nights, just casual dining where you can choose when, where and what you want to eat. Some choices available to you will be slightly more limited and the guest to staff ratio will be higher in comparison to higher budget cruises.
Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises, Fred.Olsen, Carnival, NCL, Costa & MSC
Mainstream cruise lines (sometimes referred to as ‘contemporary’) offer fantastic value for money and a 4* to 4.5* dining and lifestyle experience. New ships are packed with every facility and activity you can think of – you can rock climb, ice skate or surf on board Royal Caribbean’s innovative fleet, experience the best of British fine dining on board P&O Cruises or pamper yourself amongst the elegance of an Italian MSC cruise.
Many cruise operators in this category do not fall short on entertainment with many offering West End-style theatre productions and comedians.
Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America and Azamara
Premium cruise lines have all the same activities and entertainment onboard as mainstream cruise ships however the standard is taken to the next level, with additional features. The staff to passenger ratio is lower meaning the attention dedicated to you gives your cruise that special touch.
The ships tend to be smaller and more intimate and some entertainment has an educational element to it, teaching new skills and learning about places you are visiting. For example Celebrity Cruises offer an Enrichment Series, with a line up of experts and destination-driven lectures and special interest programs. When it comes to cuisine, a gourmet style and a refined service all round sets the scene for your time on board.
Silversea, Regent Seven Seas and Crystal Cruises
Intimate atmospheres and unrivalled service is what ultra luxurious cruising is all about. High up on the agenda is delicious, gourmet food and plush, comfortable accommodation. Usually with high end cruisers, the staff to guest ratio is extremely low sometimes as low to 1 staff member to 2 guests.
The feeling of space and exclusivity should take you to a place you’ll never want to come back from. Fine dining is a big part of the luxury experience and menus will be varied, creative and fresh, delivered to the highest standards of presentation by world-class chefs.
Sommeliers will be onboard to recommend wines (included in the price on many luxury ships), premium spirits and champagnes (usually at an extra charge). Some of the ships in this classification take as few as 150 guests which gives a completely intimate feel to your time at sea.
Hurtigruten, Silversea Expedition
Discovery cruises include cruises on very small ships to far flung, off-the-beaten-track destinations. These cruises almost always have exotic itineraries focusing on adventure and breath-taking experiences.
The beauty of discovery cruising is getting to destinations that larger ships cannot access. The destination is the main focal point of the cruise, with the itinerary and ship life, in terms of educational lectures for example, geared towards guests’ understanding of the destination they are visiting and seeing sights only a handful of people have seen.
Ships tend to be small, enabling them to get close to coastal and river gateways and into small ports. Service and comfort is still a priority but you can expect to be woken at dawn to catch that once in a lifetime sight of a killer whale or to experience the thrill of watching penguins at play.
The Right Destination
You may have a wish list of places to cruise to, but it’s important to select the most suitable time of year for that itinerary. For example, it’s advisable to avoid the Caribbean in hurricane season, or if you don’t like hotter climates you may not wish to be visiting certain countries at certain times.
The size of ship and also the type of cruise you are looking to go on will have an impact on your chosen destination. Whilst all cruise lines cover a vast array of destinations, you may find that the ports of call you wish to visit might not be covered by a particular cruise line at certain times of year. Similarly, it is important to look at the size of ship when thinking about your destination. For example, with certain ports within the Caribbean, the ship may well operate a tender service ashore rather than docking at the port due to its size. This may not be something you are comfortable with, so is another consideration to be taken. A quick chat with any of our specialist cruise agents and you’ll find out all you want know and find what suits you best..