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Sunday, October 17, 2010

How To Choose a Smooth Sailing Cruise

Did you know that there are more than 160 ships in the fleets of the 24 major cruise lines from Alaska to Zanzibar? So, be sure to evaluate your options which one most suits your style by checking on the following guidelines:

Decide on where will be your destination first, the ship the second. Next would be to look at the specifics; - With Alaskan cruises for example, they tend to follow two routes. Inside Passage itineraries run round-trip from Seattle or Vancouver and call in southern Alaskan ports like Juneau and Skagway; Gulf of Alaska itineraries, which sail farther north, are typically one-way trips from Vancouver to Whittier or Seward, or the reverse.

Decide when to go. Shoulder seasons can offer more bargains and maybe more appealing than the high season.

Select the cruise line and fellow passengers that best match your personality. It will make or break your experience. Take not of cruise lines that have dress codes and assigned seating times for meals, kid-friendly, etc...

Consider the cost. Don't simply look at the slate room's daily rate and multiply by the number of nights you'll be at sea. Remember to factor in airfare to and from originating ports, the costs of incidentals like alcohol (unless the ship is all-inclusive) and shore excursions.

Many cruise lines give discounts for booking in advance.

The size of the ship matters, because it dictates the itinerary. Smaller ships clock at smaller ports and offer more personalized experience. The downside is that entertainment and dining options are often more limited.

If you are in Alaskan or Mediterranean cruises, be sure to choose a room where you can see the views.

Arrive early - and stay on after your cruise. It's wise to arrive at your starting port at least a day before your schedule to set sail.

Before you board, don't waste time waiting in line after you're pulled out of port. Be sure to plan your onboard activities early.

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