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ABQrobin

Discussion - How do you pick your next cruise?

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Talking with a few of my friends who have never been on a cruise before - the question always comes up.  How do you pick your cruise????.  

So I thought I would start a little discussion here.

Please put these in YOUR order, and tell us why.

 

I pick by cruise line

I pick by ship (either a new one or one we loved previously)

I pick by ports we love

I pick by NEW ports to us

I pick by the itinerary as a whole 

I pick by the departure port

 

so....let's go.  I will post mine too.

Edited by ABQrobin

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Here's my list:

 

1.  We pick by cruise line first, we like the Fun Ships and see no reason to switch

2.  We pick by New ports, so many new places yet to see

3.  We pick by whole itinerary, might be repeating one

4.  We pick by ports we love and want to repeat because we want different shore excursions at a specific port

5.  We pick by departure port... this could be higher on the list depending

6.  We pick by ship (our next cruise is the Vista, so this time is the only exception where the ship mattered.  DH is dying to do brewery tour!)

 

  

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Cruise line - Doing our 2nd Carnival one - so probably sticking with them unless some unique itinerary/scenario pops up

 

Location - want to see new places

 

Things to do - Example - this upcoming cruise we selected based on Ocho Rios having a golf shore excursion

 

Departure port - Would probably only do Miami or Ft Lauderdale, as they seem to offer the most options.  Plus airfare out of Detroit is great (although we hate Miami airport's layout).  Being in Windsor, Ontario - flights out of Detroit are so much cheaper than driving 4 hours to Toronto, plus DTW is only 20 minute drive maybe, and our airport doesn't have flights direct to any cruise port locations.

 

re: Ship - not too picky, my wife and I don't want to be one of the super cruise ships - like our smaller ones (Splendor was perfect size for us).  Don't want to cruise with 5000 other people.

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1. Cruise line - We like Carnival this far. 

2. Itinerary - We prefer not to do a lot of repeats.

3. Dates - We like to line it up in my husband’s work schedule where he won’t have to take too many vacation days. He runs a schedule 2 weeks on, 1 week off

4. Departure port

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1.  Departure port.  I won't fly.

 

2.  General time frame.

 

3.  Then I give whomever I'm taking choice of itineraries available, since I cruise because I love cruising and will enjoy any of the ports.

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Great thread idea!

 

I first pick a date we want to travel and then I start looking at all ships on all lines going out of departure ports on those dates that I’d be willing to use. Once I see which ships are available I cross off ones I don’t want to sail on and then when I’m left with ships I’m interested in I go with the best price. Itinerary would probably help with a tie.

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My 2018 cruise was on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). Reasons in order of importance:

Cost – Had an Oceanview (picture window) stateroom for a base price (no taxes, fees, grats) of $638. OPEN BAR!!!
Itinerary – Cuba
Accessibility to Port – Airfare to FLL came to $180 (including taxes, fees)

For my January 2019 sailing (Carnival Cruise Line):
Itinerary – I wanted to go to somewhere I hadn’t been and love SEA DAYS
Cabin – I wanted a suite and traveled solo
Cost – I booked a Junior Suite and prepaid gratuities for $1200 = $300/day (to me worth it as food and hotel would cost me more than that on land). 

Cruise in January 2020 (Princess Cruise Line)
Itinerary – places I have not been, SEA DAYS
Cost – again traveling alone, wanted a balcony. No deposit required, sail & sip (drinks/grats included) $1648 ($235/day)
 

I am not “loyal” to any one cruise line. I used the above criteria and booked the line that met my wants/needs. I am also looking at an adults only, all inclusive resort for between the 2019 and 2020 cruises. Same thought process:
Itinerary – I want to go somewhere new
Type – Adults Only & All Inclusive
Cost – currently in the early stages working on this now…

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1. Cruise line (so far we have only done CCL)

2. New ports (we want to see as many places as we can)

3. Ship (we want to sail as many new ships as we can)

4. Ports we love (we have several that we want to go back to so we can experience things we didn't get to the first/second/third time around)

5. Departure port (Im terrified of flying, so wester coast departures are out of the question right now!)

6. Itinerary as a whole

 

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1 hour ago, ABQrobin said:

 

 

I pick by cruise line 

I pick by ship (either a new one or one we loved previously)

I pick by ports we love

I pick by NEW ports to us

I pick by the itinerary as a whole 

I pick by the departure port

 

so....let's go.  I will post mine too.

 

1. I choose the dates I need to cruise first. With mine and dh’s schedule plus having kids still in school, dates always come first. 

 

2. Cruise line - I’ve only ever cruised Carnival but I’m afraid to spend a couple thousand dollars only to come away saying “I wished we would have cruised Carnival”. My dad used to always say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

 

3. Ship - I am wanting to try different ships to see which I prefer. So far, the Dream class is my absolute favorite. 

 

4. Departure port as it determines whether we will be driving or have to pay for plane tickets. 

 

5. I’m one of the few that truly doesn’t care about which port we go to. Maybe after I’ve cruised more or been to more places, it will matter. For right now, I am happy just being on a cruise. The vacation for me is all about a break from schedules, cooking, cleaning, and any stress from jobs or school. 

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First I pick a time. Then I look at prices. Then i look for interesting ports. After that I pick 2-3 cruises that look good. Then everything goes in the spreadsheet. What's included if it's not what does it cost? After all of that I get a bottom line number and pick what looks like the best value for the money. 

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Time of year

Departure port - Port Canaveral, Tampa or Jacksonville

Itinerary

Ship (almost always Carnival)

Price

 

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Hmm, my methods have changed as we have gone on a few cruises and now booked some future ones.  Each cruise booking has had a different impetus, changing some of the priorities. 

 

But right now it is:

 

1. Departure port: Canaveral - closest to home, easy drive.  Except one future cruise we've booked out of Tampa - also a relatively good drive.

 

2. Cruise line: Always Carnival now.  When I was first looking I considered other cruise lines, but for Canaveral departures, the Carnival sailings were most convenient/cheapest/most interesting, and that remains the same for now.

 

3. Cabin availability: this isn't usually an issue, but if I can't get a cabin I really like (at a price that seems appropriate - see "Price" below"), even if other cabins are available, I may search further afield for a different destination or date.

 

4. Destinations/posts of call: I don't need another Bahamas cruise.  We last cruised to the Eastern Carib, and we've booked Western Carib, Southern Carib, and Bermuda itineraries for future cruises, so we are now looking to round out the "missing" ports or maybe explore further to Panama, etc.

 

5. Cruise length: This is related to #4, since going to the Bahamas means a 3 or 4 day cruise, and maybe that trumps it as a result: minimum 6 days, prefer 7 or more.  We have a 5-day next up, and I think we will find that to be way too short.

 

6. Ship: A few bookings ago, I might have pushed this lower down the list because all ships were potentially different, but now I think we have booked enough different ships/classes that we may want to try a particular one.  For example, the Mardi Gras will be booked very specifically because she is new and very different, so when the itineraries are released the Ship becomes priority #1.  But prior bookings and booking beyond that will have specific ship as a lower priority over the above.  I'd rather have another cruise on Sunshine to a new destination than a new ship to a familiar destination.  Given two different ships and two different prices, I may let the ship drive selection over the price, if not too wide a gap.

 

7. Price:  At this stage I'm willing to pay a bit more to get a destination I really want, vs just going for the cheapest "Eastern Carib" available.  And I've only booked an interior once, so obviously I'm not looking to get rock-bottom pricing.  However, if a new cruise line that seemed safe/fun offered up a steal of a deal to a repeat destination out of a further departure port, I might jump on it.

 

8. Date:  I generally have a wide range of available dates if I book far enough in advance, but there may be preferences depending on destination or other factors (e.g. I will probably never book a departure from Tampa in Dec through Feb due to fog).  So price tends to drive selection over exact date - i.e. I will sail one week/month earlier/later if I save a useful amount of cash.  Conversely, I will pay $10 or $20 more to get the more desirable date.

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For me it is always Date first. Its so hard to coordinate my schedule with my Wifes.

After date then we tend to do 50/50 between ship and itinerary.

Since i do all the planning its mostly just getting the DW's approval !

 

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1. Line - preference carnival

2. date - when kids are in school and it's not football season

3. port - prefer a port I can drive to

4. ship - prefer dream class

5. itinerary - prefer ports I haven't been to, haven't been to in a long time, or have been to but need to go back

 

Outside of the ones I have booked the next one I'm looking at is for the last week of August 2020. I'm probably going to be skipping #3 to get the line, date, ship, and itinerary I want.

 

Breeze - Port Canaveral > Amber Cove > St. Thomas > San Juan > Grand Turk

Edited by Saint Greg

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Great thread!  I'll play.

 

1 - I pick by the itinerary as a whole - We always start here with a itinerary in mind (i.e. Norway, Alaska, Canada/New England - we only do cooler weather itineraries)

 

2 - I pick by departure port - We don't live near a port so flying to and from the port is a factor for us.  For us, cost of airfare and dates come into play for us.

 

3 - I pick by cruise line - We've only taken two cruises so not much experience here, but I do find myself looking at Carnival first, but we are on MSC for our upcoming Norway cruise.  Cruise line is where cost comes into play for us.  We like Carnival for the value.

 

4. - I pick by ship - I make sure the ship has the amenities we like

 

5 - I pick by NEW ports to us - Since we have only taken 2 cruises, all ports are new to us

 

6 - I pick by ports we love - There are some ports I would consider returning to

Edited by MommytoAsquared
Stuff to add

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1. Line - I have only cruised Carnival.  I haven't found a reason to go elsewhere.

2. Date - we usually sail in October - when kids are in school

3. Port - Florida

4. Price

5. Ship - only been on Conquest Class so far, but will be on Dream Magic in 2020

6. Itinerary - prefer new ports, but will repeat ports I enjoyed & to do something different when there. Must be 7-8 days.

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2 hours ago, JennyB1977 said:

My 2018 cruise was on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). Reasons in order of importance:

Cost – Had an Oceanview (picture window) stateroom for a base price (no taxes, fees, grats) of $638. OPEN BAR!!!
Itinerary – Cuba
Accessibility to Port – Airfare to FLL came to $180 (including taxes, fees)

For my January 2019 sailing (Carnival Cruise Line):
Itinerary – I wanted to go to somewhere I hadn’t been and love SEA DAYS
Cabin – I wanted a suite and traveled solo
Cost – I booked a Junior Suite and prepaid gratuities for $1200 = $300/day (to me worth it as food and hotel would cost me more than that on land). 

Cruise in January 2020 (Princess Cruise Line)
Itinerary – places I have not been, SEA DAYS
Cost – again traveling alone, wanted a balcony. No deposit required, sail & sip (drinks/grats included) $1648 ($235/day)
 

I am not “loyal” to any one cruise line. I used the above criteria and booked the line that met my wants/needs. I am also looking at an adults only, all inclusive resort for between the 2019 and 2020 cruises. Same thought process:
Itinerary – I want to go somewhere new
Type – Adults Only & All Inclusive
Cost – currently in the early stages working on this now…

 

Where does one find an Adults Only cruise?  That sound awesome...

 

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Interesting topic...

1. Lately it’s been by the best casino offers we get. (surprised no one has said this) 

2. The order of variables other than #1 change based on every circumstance to cruise. 

‘Sometimes a port or destination is #1 like Alaska & Hawaii. A certain port must be on itinerary happens too.

Sometimes the dates matter most. 

‘With all the options, we change our order depending upon......

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1. Itinerary - we decide where we want to go and what we want to see

2. Departure Ports - We live in Texas so prefer to sail out of Galveston

3. Cruise Line - Dictated by the first two

4. Ship - Our dates are flexible usually within a few month span, so we try to avoid older/smaller ships

 

We like to try new things, and to try new itinerary/ports of call. (although our recent cruises may not necessarily reflect that)


However our daughter (in her 20s) finally agreed to go with us this trip.
She loves to travel (has been to Paris/China/South Korea/Mexico/Various US States) and prefers to be able to go and do as she pleases. The thought of a cruise ship has always sounded too "confining" to her (she doesn't like being told how long to stay in port, when to be back on ship, etc.)
So our main decision this trip was to take an itinerary we had already sailed that we felt she would enjoy.
Jamaica/Grand Cayman/Cozumel
At the very least, she is getting a "sampler platter" of three places she has never been to before and can decide if she wants to go spend more time there.
We told her that if she didn't enjoy herself, we wouldn't bring it up again, but that she should do it at least once "for us".
 

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#1- Who is going?

#2- When and destination?

#3- Ship

 

I did Alaska with my parents so opted to try Princess since they did Glacier Bay. Chose ship from their fleet I thought we would enjoy. My cruise in 3 days is local friends. We live in S. CA, so Long Beach was the closest port. All of us are families with tweens, so Carnival. When I decide to fly to FL for a cruise, I am going to have a LOT of stuff to think about! SO MANY more ships, lines, ports to consider.

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1. Departure port.  We can easily drive to Tampa or Port Canaveral.  Not quite as easily to Lauderdale or Miami.

2. Length.  At least six days.

3. Destination.  We used HAL for cruisetour in Alaska for a special anniversary.  In Med, we took Costa.  For Caribbean, Bahamas, etc, we use Carnival.

4. Value.  

5. Season. January to April for anything out of Florida.  We go with others about half the time.  Their schedules are a factor.

6. Size.  Not interested in a ship bigger than my hometown.

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It's a great question. There are so many factors at play, that how do I even really know that's the real reason?

 

The #1 choice I refuse to stray from:

- Off-peak season: I absolutely 100% refuse to book during summer/spring break. Summer is too hot, too many kids, and way too expensive. Plus, there are tons of fun activities near me in the summer. Spring and fall are my favorite. When I was younger, the family would take our summer vacation. It was the highlight of my year. As I got older, I realized I could take two in the off-peak season for the price of one summer vacation, AND there were more pros vs cons to doing so.

 

Also at the top of the list:

- Price: I love to have a good time. I can have a good time without blowing the bank out. Quantity over "quality" for me because I find quality on every opportunity I get to enjoy a vacation. Everything adds up fast and I prefer to do more vacations. If there are multiple options for the similar cruise, I want the cheaper one unless there is a definitive reason to go bigger. I stray far far away from the "I'm on vacation, for one week only I will spend like a drunken sailor" mentality. If I really wanted, I could go on luxury cruises. I don't value those things. At least not at this point in my life. One luxury cruise is not better to me than 2-3 Carnival cruises.

 

Then comes:

- Itinerary: Generally not looking to choose an itinerary to the same place I've been, especially recently. One or two repeat ports is fine sometimes

- Boat: I don't hate the smaller ships, but I much prefer the larger ones. This is one area I will pay more for. I don't need rock climbing and Broadway, but the fantasy classes are lacking quite a few things I do like. 

- Port: Part of the vacation for us is spending one (or four) nights in the port. 

 

*Wild Card*

- Entertainer: My first every cruise was with Jay Leno performing. He was my all-time favorite late night personality (from my lifetime). I was so sad to see him go from TV. I rarely get the opportunity to see him live, and may never again. I HAD to do this cruise. I wish Carnival would do more of this kind of stuff. I would consider for compelling entertainment. He was excellent by the way.

 

Our upcoming cruise was a combination of everything I said above minus the entertainer. 

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 I pick by the itinerary as a whole : This is what we are moving up to the top of the list after our next two booked cruises. We have yet to cruise to Alaska and Hawaii and it is time to make that happen and something in Europe after that (or TA)

I pick by NEW ports to us (see above)

Cruise Line: Have only cruised Carnival, RCCL and NCL - enjoy them pretty much equally

I pick by the departure port: We have always gone with  New Orleans, Galveston, Houston (when it was available) and Mobile--driving distance. These will not be an option for Hawaii, Alaska, Europe

I pick by ship.     Doubt we would ever sail on Sensation or Elation again. (Never say "never".)

I pick by ports we love.  Not so far

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For us.

 

dates rule, I’m self employed, Mrs Gut teaches (high school and University) and contracts some Govt work

 

Then comes itinerary my Doctor doesn’t want me travelling anywhere I can’t road trip home in worst case (so that limits things).

 

$$$$$

 

We are pretty flexible re line and ship.

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