Before I get into this post today. I want to be perfectly clear. These are only my opinions and not those of anyone else. If you have any input or experiences I would love to hear your comments below.
Which Cruise Line is Best?
When deciding on which cruise line is best for you, we need to look at a bunch of factors. One of the first things is with all the cruise lines in the world it could get very overwhelming. There are river cruises, ocean cruises, long cruises, and short cruises. Then there are the different brands from Azamara to Virgin, from Carnival to Royal Caribbean. There are also some smaller cruise lines like Silversea or Viking.
Keeping in mind that before you start looking it may be a good option to contact a travel advisor who specializes in cruises. They can give you a general idea of the price point and onboard amenities you may be looking for. Remember, the small the cruise lines the higher your price point may be. You will also be looking at more luxury and fewer amenities.
The purpose of this post is to look at which cruise line is best for you if you are considering larger cruise lines. In the future, we will do a comparison of the smaller cruise lines.
Let’s Get Started
You have decided to take a cruise this year for your vacation/holiday. You and your family are trying to decide which cruise line is the best for you. There are a number of cruise lines to choose from, so let’s round it down to a few of the larger cruise brands. Here we will be looking at the cruise line we feel are the current most popular brand, Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. Not to leave out Disney, they are great for children and you have to love the Disney theme.
These 4 cruise lines have their own special flair. Each comes with pros and cons as well as a host of signatures to the brand. The first thing we want to point out is the itineraries that each of them has. This will not help you decide on the cruise line, but it is a good place to start when you think of your travels. After all, isn’t that how you plan your travel anyway? Where do you want to go?
All 4 will take you to locations in the Caribbean, Alaska, and many locations in Europe. The time of year will become very important at this point. During school breaks, holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, and even hurricane season should be considered. Sailing in these times could vary on the cost and experience.
For example, you will obviously be paying more for the cruise during school breaks and holidays. While during hurricane season the cruise may be less costly, the cost of your travel insurance may be a little more.
Now that we have come up with a time of year and a location. What are you looking to get out of your experience? We are always looking to have a good time and create lasting memories. Sometimes those memories can become a little clouded depending on how many “adult beverages” are consumed on your cruise. Don’t get me wrong, I even enjoy a few drinks on my travels. However, when it comes to creating memories, you do want to make sure the ones you remember are enjoyable.
Each of these cruise lines has its own great list of onboard experiences. Onboard experiences and activities can help with those longer days at sea. Sea days are those days that if you don’t have enough to do, they could make or break the trip.
Carnival and Royal Caribbean have the most to offer during these sea days. Including activities like waterslides, roller coasters, and bumper cars. If you are more adventurous. Royal Caribbean also has rock climbing walls, zip lines, and the signature FlowRider.
All 4 do offer activities for kids as well. These are best for families with kids of all age groups and when parents want to have some time to reconnect as a couple. These activities fill up fast, so the sooner you can get your kids signed up, the better chance they have to enjoy these activities.
What is Your Budget?
We would like to say that money is no object when it comes to your travels. The fact is that in my experience most people don’t plan their finances around their vacations. If you are like a majority of people in this world we never think of the financial part of planning our travel. You just “wing it” or hope to have enough when it’s all over.
Looking at each of our 4 cruise lines, they all have pretty similar price points. The question comes in now, “What do I get for the money I have spent?”
Let us say you wanted to go on a 7-night Caribbean cruise leaving from Florida. Each one will have a set of itineraries and dates to choose from. Trying to avoid hurricane season and school breaks you decide on the second week in November. You can choose from 2 of the newest ships in the world Carnival “Celebration” and Royal Caribbean’s “Wonder of the Seas,” which happens to be the current largest ship in the world. (Icon of the Seas will be sailing from Port Canaveral in 2024).
These price ranges start at around $529pp for an interior cabin on “Celebration” to around $1608pp for a large balcony on “Wonder of the Seas.” You could always go all out on the “Wonder of the Seas” for a royal loft suite for the cost of around $20,608pp. This will all depend on what you are looking to get from your travels. I have always preferred an ocean balcony, only because I like the feel of the sea air while sleeping or taking that afternoon siesta.
A few other things to consider, if you are going to fly? Are you going to include that in your booking? This could become important if you are traveling on the date of your embarkation. The cruise lines have ways to package your airline the date of embarkation. This will be important when it comes to flight delays or cancellations. The cruise lines, in most cases, will fly you to the next port-of-call and provide a hotel for the night to meet your cruise ship at no cost to you. There are a few fine lines however at times. Some require you to have purchased travel insurance at a reasonable fee. Which I feel is always worth the extra expense.
If this is important to you. Cruise crowds are going to be in different places at different times, especially on sea days. Thinking about this from a perspective. These cruise ships are basically floating cities in some cases, with upwards of 5000 people plus 2500 crew members. They are putting over 8000 people on these floating cities that have a turnaround time at the port of fewer than eight hours in some cases.
If you are thinking of wanting a younger more party type with a short cruise Carnival has been called the “FUN” ship for a reason. If you are looking for a longer cruise with luxury in mind, Celebrity or Norwegian has what you are looking for. When it comes to more activities for those sea days, Royal Caribbean has got you covered.
Age groups will vary on each of these cruise lines since they do have some people who are very loyal to one brand or another. Each has something for every age group. However, if the brand is not as important to you. Carnival is more of the younger crowds, and Royal Caribbean is the middle age and early families. While Celebrity and Norwegian can be considered an older crowd looking for more luxury with fewer activities.
One other thing to keep in mind is that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are owned by the same cruise groups that also own Azamara and Silverseas. So if you are looking to stay loyal to a brand, Royal Caribbean may be your choice.
With all the different cruise lines in the world, it may be best to seek a travel advisor who specializes in cruises. They will be up to date on all the ins and outs of the cruise industry to give you what you want from your cruise. Every cruise line has there unique signature restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. When it comes to the experience from the activities to the entertainment onboard, you have many to choose from.
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