In today's vast sea of cruise options, finding the perfect voyage tailored to your desires can feel as challenging as navigating uncharted water. In this guide, we'll provide practical insights into selecting the best cruise based on your travel type, drawing from the extensive Insight Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships by Douglas Ward.
If you're a family with little adventurers in tow, cruising could be your ticket to an unforgettable vacation. Cruise ships are like floating playgrounds, offering a secure environment and a treasure trove of activities for kids of all ages. From thrilling water parks and exciting slides to mini-golf courses and more, there's never a dull moment on board.
But, before you set sail, don't forget to check the minimum age requirements for your chosen cruise line. Here are some family-friendly options to get you started:
- Carnival Cruise Line: Minimum age varies, but typically 6 months (12 months for specific cruises).
- Disney Cruise Line: Minimum age: 3 months.
- Norwegian Cruise Line: Minimum age: 6 months.
- P&O Cruises: Minimum age varies, typically 6 months (12 months for longer cruises — including transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, and South Pacific cruises.
For more information and options, see the Insight Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.
Cruises can be fun for the whole family © Shutterstock
Solo cruise travellers
Cruising has traditionally been tailored for couples, placing solo travellers in a situation where they encounter a solo occupancy fee. This additional cost came to be because solo cabins tend to be often just as roomy as double cabins.
Nevertheless, there are exceptions, as certain cruise lines extend generous discounts for solo passengers on specific journeys. Saga Cruises is a standout in this regard, as they don't impose additional charges for solo travellers on any of their cruises.
Additionally, Saga Adventure and Saga Discovery boast an impressive 81 dedicated solo-occupancy cabins, making them leaders in catering to solo cruisers.
Enjoying the beautiful sunset © Shutterstock
Romantics: escapes at sea
If you've ever dreamed of tying the knot against the backdrop of a stunning sunset over the ocean, cruising has you covered. Inspired by classic TV shows like "The Love Boat," cruise lines offer special wedding packages that promise a truly unforgettable experience.
Imagine saying "I do" aboard a ship from Asuka Cruise, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Dream Cruises, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, or Sea Cloud Cruises.
These wedding packages often encompass a host of delightful services. Many include the presence of a minister to officiate the ceremony, an exquisite wedding cake, celebratory champagne, a beautiful bridal bouquet, the musical talents of a band or musician for a heartfelt performance, and a cherished album of wedding photographs. And what's more romantic than sailing into the horizon together after your joyous reception?
A cruise can be a romantic getaway © Shutterstock
Already wedded? You can still embrace the love story of a lifetime by opting for a honeymoon or special anniversary celebration aboard your very own "love boat."
Apart from the enchanting notion of sailing into the sunset, honeymooning at sea comes with an array of advantages. First of all, planning becomes hassle-free as there are many dining and entertainment options available onboard.
Budgeting for your romantic voyage is a breeze, as a single price often encompasses all expenses. This includes airfare, the cruise itself, delectable cuisine, captivating entertainment, visits to multiple enchanting destinations, exciting shore excursions, and stays in well-appointed pre- and post-cruise hotels.
As an added bonus, some cruise lines even sweeten the deal by offering discounts when you book a future cruise to celebrate your cherished anniversary.
Seniors: a sea of opportunities
Cruising knows no age limits, and today's cruise lines are embracing travellers of all generations. However, for our seasoned travellers aged 60 and above, longer cruises, including those circumnavigating the globe, are gaining popularity.
Some even opt for adults-only ships like Arcadia from P&O Cruises or Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery from Saga Cruises.
To sweeten the deal, organisations like AARP in the US and Saga in the UK often offer special discounts or upgrades for seniors.
If you've undergone significant surgery or face mobility challenges that make flying undesirable or unfeasible, it's worth exploring the advantages of a "no-fly" cruise. These cruises allow you to board and disembark from a port in your home country, eliminating the need for air travel.
If you encounter mobility difficulties (more details on this topic below), opt for one of the newer ships designed with an "open-flow" interior design style in their public areas.
In general, cruise lines that offer the facilities and onboard ambience most appealing to seniors include:
- American Cruise Lines
- Azamara, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
- Hebridean Island Cruises
- Holland America Line
- Noble Caledonia
- Oceania Cruises
- P&O Cruises
- Pearl Seas Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- Saga Cruises
- Sea Cloud Cruises
- Silversea Cruises
The best cruise depends on the traveller © Shutterstock
Cruising with special needs and mobility issues
Cruising is one of the most accessible vacation options for individuals with physical limitations. The key, however, is selecting the right ship.
Ships constructed within the last five to ten years tend to boast the most up-to-date suites, cabins, and accessible shipboard facilities tailored to the needs of individuals with special requirements. Moreover, many of these modern vessels are equipped with text telephones and listening device kits to cater to those who are visual or hearing-impaired.
Special dietary needs can often be catered to, and cabins frequently feature refrigerators – a must for travellers with diabetes requiring insulin storage.
For wheelchair users, it's advisable to bring your own or rent an electric wheelchair, which can be delivered right to the ship on your sailing date.
It's important to note that one potential challenge for individuals with limited mobility during a cruise is ship-to-shore tender operations. Most ships' tenders and landing platforms are not designed to accommodate wheelchair users.
However, there are exceptions, such as Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Beyond, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Edge, and Celebrity Silhouette, which offer more accessible options in this regard.
Assistance available on cruise ship © Shutterstock
As you prepare for your cruise adventure, keep these questions in mind:
- Are all public rooms and decks wheelchair accessible?
- Will special transportation be provided from the airport to the ship?
- Do you need to sign a medical release?
- Can the cruise line provide a collapsible wheelchair?
- Is a raised toilet seat available?
- Will crew members be available to assist?
- Can you secure a prime spot in the show lounge if you're in a wheelchair?
- In case of elevator outages, how will you reach lifeboats during emergencies?
- Does the cruise line's travel insurance cover injuries during your trip?
No matter your travel style or unique needs, cruising offers a world of opportunities. So, as you set sail on your next adventure, may your journey be as smooth as the sea itself.
For more invaluable information, get the Insight Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.
New to cruising? Read our top cruise tips for first-timers.