Read All About It: Cruises
Have FUN Researching Your Cruise
Whether you're considering your first cruise, or planning your 20th, many seasoned cruisers will tell you a lot of the excitement of a cruise actually comes before you step on deck. That's right! Part of the fun is in the anticipation, planning, and research that comes beforehand.
Before you envision hours of drudgery spent in the stacks of a library doing research for some boring school assignment, hold the phone! This is a different kind of research, and it's actually fun!
The fun is that you get to find out cool stuff about your fellow passengers, the ship you'll be sailing on, and the places you'll be visiting. Much of this research can be done on line. I'll be point you to a great place to meet other cruisers. And if you like to read, you're going to love reading about the things you'll encounter as a cruiser. The more you research and read, the more excited you'll be about your upcoming adventure.
So, let's s get started - Let the excietment begin weeks or even months before you cross that gangway!
Photo: my own
Selecting a Cruise That's Right for You - If you've cruised lots of times, you can skip this section.
For the benefit of those who haven't cruised before, I'd like to emphasize one thing: There is a big difference between the cruise experience on different lines, different sized ships within the same line, length of cruises, and itineraries.
It's easy to see that a cruise to the Caribbean will offer something very different in terms of destination than one to Alaska. But, you'll also find that a 10 day Panama Canal Cruise on a smaller ship from Princess Cruises is a world apart from a 4 day cruise to The Bahamas on a larger Royal Caribbean ship.
In general, pay attention to the marketing of each line to see where a line's focus is. Do they emphasize a a high level of onboard activity onboard, or romance and relaxation? In general, you'll find more families and active adults on a large Carnival 'Fun Ship' cruising the Caribbean for 7 days, and a more laid-back crowd on a Celebrity cruise to Alaska. Also, as a general rule, on cruises during the school year, as well as longer cruises, you'll see fewer children.
Finding Good Advice
on Choosing Your Cruise
Getting cruise advice is easy. Look to four sources:
1 - People you know who have cruised more than once will gladly tell you about their cruise experience - what they did and didn't like about it. Ask them to describe the ship and tell you about what kind of onboard activities they enjoyed, and what the passenger mix was like.
2 - A good travel agent who has actual cruise experience and is certified by CLIA or another sanctioning body will ask you about YOUR likes and dislikes, and recommend a line, ship size, and itinerary type best suited to you.
3 - On line cruise reviews and cruise forums: Google Cruise Reviews You'll find tons, probably including both positive and negative reviews of the same ship. Read between the lines. Some reviews are written by someone with an ax to grind, some by real cheerleaders for certain lines.
4 - Traditional travel guides on cruising from authoritative sources. Amazon has both hard copy and Kindle editions.
Photo: my own
Traditional Travel Guides on Cruising - from Authoritative Sources
Where Did You (or will you) Go on Your First Cruise?
Lots of people wonder what's the best destination for their first cruise.
Won't you please help them out by voting to tell where you went on your first one?
(Or where you plan for it to be or think it will be)
If you'd like to leave a comment telling why this was or wasn't a good choice, that would be lovely!
Anyone who visits this lens may vote in this poll
Where did you (or will you) go on your first cruise?
WHERE Are You Going? - Where will your cruise itinerary take you?
WHERE a cruise goes is very important to most people who haven't cruised a lot. After all, there are places they just must visit. Often, those who've cruised many times proclaim that "the ship is the destination." They've already visited most of the ports on the standard cruise itineraries, and their enjoyment comes from being at sea aboard a ship of their favorite line.
If you are new, and eager to visit many new places, you can do it on a cruise . . . and you don't even have to pack and unpack between places! Newer cruisers tend to choose "port intensive" cruises - those cruises with itineraries that spend more days visiting ports, and few days 'at sea.'
If you haven't visited a particular port before, you can get the most out of your short time there by doing a little research on the area first. After all, wouldn't it be a shame to return home, only to find out that you'd just visited the only place in the world you can see Blue Iguanas and didn't even know it when you were there? (It's Grand Cayman, by the way.) Your pre-cruise research would have told you that. You might have found out on line at a cruise forum like the one I mentioned above. OR, you might have read it in a destination guide.
Cruise Destination Guides - Guides to Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Alaskan Ports of Call
Oh, I LOVE sea days! On a sea day, your ship is just 'cruising,' often with no land in sight. There's nothing quite so relaxing, yet invigorating as the sight of the open sea as you breath in the fresh sea air.
On a Sea Day, you have your choice of joining in activities organized by the Cruise Director and staff, or just enjoying the unique ambiance that you just don't find on land. Put me in the latter category, for sure! Sometimes, I even stay on the ship when it's in a port I've visited more than once, and pretend I just scored another sea day. (NOTE: There's more information about what else there is to do at Cruise Ship Sea Days.)
One thing I enjoy on a sea day is reading. Most cruise ships have libraries. SOME of the are great, while the selection is pretty sparse on others. You can check out a book, and return it before the end of the cruise.
Since I'm not guaranteed to find something I'll like in the ship's library, I always bring what I want to read with me. If your favorite author's newest book isn't out yet, maybe you'd like to try something a little different? Maybe a book about ships, or a mystery set aboard a cruise ship would be fun to read at sea.
Cruise Themed Light Reading - Including What Time Is the Midnight Buffet?
What Time is the Midnight Buffet is an old favorite for many cruisers.
Is it Land or Sea for you?
If you take cruises, or would like to, here's your chance to tell the world why.
If you don't cruise, and feel that it's not for you, I'll bet you're not alone. Tell us why.
NOTE - There are no right or wrong answers. It's ok to love cruising, and it's ok if you wouldn't be caught dead on a ship.
Do you (or would you) cruise? Why or why not?
Yes, I have, or would like to, and here's why
Pirate Alley - by Stephen Coonts
Cruise Passengers, Beware! Pirate Alley may not be the one novel you want to read just before (or during) your first cruise. However, if you've ever cruised, you will want to read it. Fans of Stephen Coonts will enjoy it even if they are confirmed land lubbers
I recently read this novel about a cruise ship attacked by modern day pirates. If you'd like to check out my review, see Pirate Alley – a Novel That’s all too Real
Don't Forget the Kiddos!
If you're a cruiser with kids or grandkids - even if they don't cruise with you - they might like some cruise related reading, too. After all, they learn by example, and if you are reading, they'll be reading! I'll just bet they'd love to read about some of the things that YOU read about.
And yes, you CAN find cruise related reading for young readers! You just have to look a little.
There are several listed below, to give you a head start.
Photo of girl reading - public domain photo from http://mrg.bz/TMtibY
Cruise Themed Reading for Young Readers
A chapter book for young readers - age seven and over
No one should grow up without having read this classic, but boys will especially like it.
Other Pages about Books for Kids
- Childrens Books About Ships and Boats
Learn the difference between a ship and a boat on this page with kids books about ships and boats, with suggestions sorted by reading level.
- Cool Dolphin Stuff for Kids
A page for young dolphin lovers and their adult friends. Find cool stuff, see something they love doing, learn about dolphins that swim upside down.
- Kids Beach Books and Posters
Children can travel to the seaside in their imaginations with kids books about the beach. Also: info about sandcastles, lifeguard flags, pink sand, springs
Hard Core! - Books for the Serious Cruising Afficianado
Finally, here are several books that are not your run-of -the-mill 'how to cruise" or "story set on a ship" books. These are especially for the true cruise addict, hard core cruising afficianado, or maritime history buff. Well, actually, I've included one DVD - about an event that was a big deal for the cruising community... most especially those who cruise or follow the Queens of Cunard.
- and happy cruising!
there's nnothing quite so relaxing as lounging on the deck of a ship with a good book. Should you be lucky enough to have a veranda stateroom, it's even better!
You may like your cruise reading at sea, or on land beforehand. You may prefer hardback, paperback, or electronic. However you like it, I hope you've found something useful and/ or enjoyable in this lens.
Happy reading - and happy cruising!
Other Pages About Cruising and Cruise Ships
- About Getting Sea Sick on a Cruise
Have you ever decided against taking a cruise vacation because you're afraid of falling seasick? Seasickness is nothing more than motion sickness at sea. Yes, it can be bad. It's far worse for some people than others. And some people don't seem to...
- I Cruised With Santa Claus!
If you've ever wondered what Santa does on vacation, here's the answer. We met him on board a cruise to The Bahamas. This is the story of that encounter.
- Picking the Best Cabin for Your Cruise
All staterooms are not equal. Find out how to decide which cabin type is best for you, with these tips from a frequent cruiser.
- Cruise Ship Swimming Pools
Cruise Ship pools have evolved since the first one appeared in 1907. Now, the LIDO deck is filled with a variety of innovative water venues.
Please leave a comment, even if only to say "Ahoy there, Matey!"