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Cruising 101

Cruising 101: Food

In:
03Jul2011

While Royal Caribbean's deployment of nearly half their fleet to Europe has been the big story in the company as of late, the other big trend that is sweeping across all of Royal Caribbean's ships (and frankly other cruise lines too) is the food options onboard.

While on your cruise ship, there will ample food provided throughout the day.  In short, there's hardly ever a time where you can't find food that is complimentry.  Complimentry food comes from a variety of sources and options.

Complimentry Restaurants

Main Dining Room

Every evening dinner is served in the main dining room at assigned seating tables.  You may end up sitting with passengers who you don't know, but the servers work to make your dining experience here as personal as possible.  The main dining room offers appetizers, entrees and desserts to choose from each night and you may order as much (or as little) as you like and it's nearly all complimentry.

The exception for food that is not complimentry in the main dining room are steak filets, that often come at an extra cost.

You can also dine in the main dining room for breakfast every morning and for lunch when available.  For breakfast, it's sit down service although here seating is first come-first served and you will not have the same waiters as dinner.  Lunch offers similar set up.

There is often a dress code to the Main Dining Room, although it's mostly an issue for dinner and less so for other meals.

Quick Service Restaurants

Throughout your cruise ship you will find other restaurants you may grab something to eat for no additional cost.  The exact restaurants vary from ship to ship but you will find a good variety of food to choose from.  Examples of food here can include pizza, sandwiches, pastries, ice cream and more.  

There's usually some seating available at these restaurants although not a lot.  These types of restaurants are usually for the "grab and go" passenger, who may be wanting something quickly to eat on their way to somewhere else.

Windjammer

The defacto buffet on every Royal Caribbean ship is the Windjammer Cafe, which is an all you-can-eat buffet that serves meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  There's lots of seating and it's a great option  when you want a casual meal.  The Windjammer is also usually convenient to the pools on the ship.

Don't let the buffet setup fool you, the Windjammer offers good quality food and while you could argue the food quality isn't as high as you will find in the main dining room, it's still a restaurant many Royal Caribbean fans love to frequent.

As mentioned earlier, the Windjammer is open for dinner and can be a good alternative for those who do not want to get dressed up for dinner in the main dining room or simply want to have more pool time or some other activity.

Room Service

Yes, room service is complimentry on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  There is a menu in your stateroom to choose from and it's available 24 hours per day.

There is a catch to room service, while the food is complimentry, it's traditional to tip the person that delivers the food to your room.  In addition, Royal Caribbean changed their room service policy back in 2009, and there is now a $3.95 surcharge for any food ordered between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

Speciality Restaurants

The biggest trend among all Royal Caribbean ships is the addition of specialty restaurants to their ships that cost a nominal fee.  The prices vary from ship to ship and restaurant to restaurant.  These specialty restaurants tend to have a food theme (Italian, French, Steakhouse, etc) and are table service restaurants.

Most specialty restaurants have a dress code, and in some cases their dress code is more formal than the main dining room.  

Specialty restaurants recommend making a reservation in advance to ensure there is a seating available.  It's not to say you can't walk up ona  given night and dine there, but there may be a wait or no availability.  You can book speciality restaurants in advance of your cruise on the Royal Caribbean website up to 60 days before your cruise but no sooner than 4 days before your sail date.

Pricing can also vary from restaurant to restaurant.  Some restaurants have a cost per person and then nearly everything on the menu is included in the cost.  Other resaurants offer their menu items with a la carte pricing.  Others include a per-person fee and a la carte pricing.

The future

Royal Caribbean has been working on increasing the amount of specialty restaurants on their ships as they've proven to be great money makers.  Some guests are bothered by the amount of speciality restaurants onboard because it's come at the expense of the complimentry offerings as well as the principle of paying for food on a cruise ship.

No one knows what the future will entail exactly, but all signs point to more speciality restaurants than we've seen before on Royal Caribbean ships.  Even older ships are often receiving new restaurants when they are brought into dry dock for upgrades.

The bottom line is there's plenty of places on your Royal Caribbean ship to eat at.  Both complimentry and specialty restaurants offer a wide variety of food to choose from and there's almost always something to get regardless of time of day.

Cruising 101: Choosing Your Cabin

In:
Category: 
21Jun2011

Once you figure out which Royal Caribbean cruise you're going to sail on, the next decision is which cabin to stay in and for some, this can seem like a daunting task.

Which category?

Royal Caribbean's cabins fall into four basic categories: Inside, Ocean view, Balcony and Suites.

Inside Cabins

Inside cabins are the smallest of the cabins and offer no view from your cabin.  It's a room with no windows and no balconies.  Just your bed, somewhere to sit and a restroom.  It may be Spartan but it's also the most affordable category, which prices for inside cabins the lowest.  

Ocean view Cabins

Ocean view cabins are nearly identical to inside cabins except you will have a porthole or window that overlooks usually the ocean.  There are cabins on the new Royal Caribbean ships that can overlook the Promenade, Central Park or Boardwalk areas as well.  

Ocean view cabins are also usually larger in size to inside cabins but allow you to see something from your cabin.

Balcony Cabins

Balcony Cabins are larger in size than the previous two categories and offer a balcony to step onto and enjoy the ocean view.  These cabins are perfect for those looking to be able to step out of their cabins and get fresh air without leaving their cabin, per se.  

On newer Royal Caribbean ships, there are also balconies cabins that overlook the Boardwalk and Central Park areas.

Suite Cabins

Suite cabins are the most luxurious and largest of all the cabins, and as you might expect also the most expensive.  From Junior Suites to Presidential Suites, there are a number of options to choose from.  Many suites offer access to a concierge lounge and even a butler.  Cabin suites usually consist of more than one room in your cabin and have the most space of any cabin.  

Cabin Location

Where your cabin is located on the ship can be just as important a decision as which category of cabin to choose.  Because Royal Caribbean has so many ships, there are so many different deck plans and it really comes down to a matter of personal preference.  It's hard to make generalizations about cabin locations because it can be a very subjective decision but here are some basics.

  • Generally speaking, the middle of the ship is the most stable location when it comes to feeling the ship move with the front of the ship the worst.  Depending on your cruise itinerary, this may not be a big deal.  If you're cruising calm waters, you likely won't be able to tell much of a difference but it's worth noting for those that are easily sea sick.
  • Port (left) or starboard (right) is also a consideration although I've found over the years not an important one.  You never know which side the ship will be facing and it's probably only a concern of those who have cabins that overlook the ocean.  
  • Proximity to certain amenities may be a consideration for some.  If mobility is an issue, a cabin close to the elevators may be an important choice.  Others may be okay with their cabin being down a long hallway.
  • Your cabin's proximity to public areas can be an issue with noise.  If your cabin is one deck above or below a night club, restaurant, pool or some other public area, there can be noise bleed.  How much noise and how bad of an issue can vary from cruise to cruise and person to person.  If you're at all concerned about this, choose a cabin that has at least two decks above and below it and the nearest public area to assure quietness.

Choosing the right cabin isn't impossible, it just requires a little research and knowing what your financial and physical limits are.  If you have doubt about picking the right cabin, a good travel agent can assist in the process and answer questions you may have.  Just remember, any cabin on a Royal Caribbean ship is more fun than being at home!

Cruising 101: Price adjustments

In:
Category: 
10Jun2011

For years Royal Caribbean had a policy for adjusting your cruise price that if the price dropped and you called, you could have the new price applied to your cruise.  But things have changed since last year and now there's a new policy in place that has some people confused.

Price adjustment policy

The good news is, you can still adjust the price of your cruise from when you book UNTIL final payment for your cruise is due.  So if you book your cruise a year in advance, you can rest assured knowing that if there's a sale in a few months, you can adjust the price of your cruise with a simple call. If you do notice a drop in price, you can call Royal Caribbean directly or have your travel agent ask to have the new price applied to your reservation.

Once you reach the date of final payment, which is 45 days before embarkation, you cannot change the price of your cruise anymore.  There is one caveat to this rule and that is if the price of your cruise drops to the point an upgrade in your cabin is as inexpensive or more than your current cabin, Royal Caribbean will upgrade you to that category.

Book early or late?

There's no right answer, but the overwhelming consensus is that it's smarter to book your cruise in advance, as prices tend to only go up as you get closer to booking.  Occasionally there are last minute sales but if you really want to be on a particular cruise, the smart move is to book as soon as you can and watch prices until you get to your final payment.

Cruising 101: When to book your cruise

In:
Category: 
10May2011

When to actually book your next cruise is sometimes a bigger question than some may think.  Like anything, when you're booking a cruise, you want to make sure you're getting the best deal out there.  You don't want to go on your cruise knowing the guy two staterooms down from you got the same cabin as you for 25% off.  The fact of the matter is pricing for cruises is a very fluid and changing experience but with the right information, you can do your best to know when exactly to book.

Early!

For years Royal Caribbean has urged its customers to book early. It's a mantra that for a while was a nice suggestion but these days it's the truth.  The best prices for cruises on Royal Caribbean are when the cruise line first starts taking bookings.  Prices tend to rise as you get closer and closer to your sailing date, so waiting to book can actually cost you more money.

So why does the price increase as you get closer?  For one, it's a matter of supply and demand.  The more people that book, the less supply there is and therefore, the price rises.  In addition, Royal Caribbean wants people to book early so it can fill up their ships and by giving early birds financial incentive to book early, it helps Royal Caribbean accomplish that goal.

That's not to say that if you don't book 2 years in advance you will pay too much, but you do want to book your cruise as soon as humanly possible, especially once you know which cruise you want.  Remember, you can book your cruise and put down just a deposit which will lock in that price and then you have until final payment to cancel your cruise with full refund.  

The exception

So far the key phrase has been to book early, but there are exceptions.  If you're flexible with your cruise dates and destinations, there are plenty of last minute deals out there.  Royal Caribbean recognizes that in some cases their ships aren't quite full and when it gets close to the sail date, they can lower the price to encourage last minute bookings.  Frankly, there's no telling which cruise and when will offer these.  But if you live close enough to a cruise port that you could drive (and therefore last minute airfare would not be prohibitively expensive), a last minute cruise might be up your alley.

In my experience, the best last minute fares are for times of the year most people can't or wont cruise.  We're talking hurricane season or right before big holidays (with the idea that nobody takes vacation a week or two before a big holiday like Christmas since everyone gets that time already built in off).  There's usually a deal out there at any given time, but the degree of savings can vary greatly.  And of course there's the question of if whatever cruise is on sale even interests you. Basically, waiting for the last minute is a big crap shoot. 

Cruising 101: Ports of Call

In:
13Aug2010

One of the major reasons to go on a cruise is your cruise ship brings you to a few ports of call in many different countries to visit.  Royal Caribbean ships visit ports of call on continents around the world and it can be a very exciting experience. Getting off your cruise ship to visit a port is as much a part of your cruise as the onboard entertainment or the food served daily on your ship.  Here are some guidelines for successful port touring.

Research your ports in advance

Before you ever set foot on your cruise ship, you should read about the ports of call you will be visiting and do some research into the port itself as well as what you're interested in doing.  You don't want to be that family that gets off the ship and has the argument about what to do.  Each port you visit has different options and it's hard to generalize any of them.  There are ports that have a lot of beaches, some that are urban and others that are a mix of the two.  It's your job to learn more about them before you get there.

You will want to first learn about the port you're visiting.  Before you know what you're going to do, you're going to need to know what the port is best known for.  Think of it like going to a steak house restaurant and ordering the salad.  Sure, you can do that but if you're going to a steak house, you should probably stick with what they are best known for...steaks!  So if a port is best known for its beaches, you may want to focus on that.  Likewise, if a port is known for its shopping or cultural heritage, you'd be best served sticking with that.  It isn't to say you couldn't have a good time going shopping on an island best known for its beaches, but it's just a best practice.

Getting off the ship

Each ship disembarks differently, but you will go to the assigned deck that the gangway is located on (usually a low deck, like deck 2).  Once at the gangway, generally speaking you will need your SeaPass card and it's smart to also bring photo identification.  There are differing opinions on this, but I personally recommend bringing your passport with you to any port you visit.  The reason for this recommendation is simple: if for some reason you get stuck on the island and miss the cruise ship, without a passport, it will be quite difficult to get back to your home country.  However, if you have a passport, all you need is to buy transportation back home and your passport will easily get you back.

When disembarking on Royal Caribbean, you will swipe your SeaPass card at a kiosk where a Royal Caribbean crew member will confirm your identity.  Think of this like checking out a book at the library, only this time, you're checking yourself out of the ship.  Make a note of what time you need to return to the ship by (and ensure you are back well before that time). 

Getting to port

There are two ways to get to the port and they are by a dock or by tenders.  A dock is simple enough, the ship docks and you walk off the gangway to a dock and you walk right into the port.  If your ship uses a tender, you will board small boats that will ferry you to the dock.

Docking is ideal because it makes for the easiest and most convenient means of getting to and from the ship.  Tenders are slower and will require more time to fully load and unload each time and there is usually a good amount of waiting,  especially during peak times.

Navigating around the port

Each port is different and offers different amenities to get you where you're going.  If you have an excursion booked, often you will meet in a pre-arranged area near the port dock and there's usually a lot of signs to indicate where and when to meet.  If you're doing something by yourself, some ports allow easy walking access to the area, while others may require taxis or rental cars to get around.

Having your research done in advance will assist in making the transition from ship to port as seamless as possible, as locals in many of the ports can be pushy with offering their services.  Be sure to know what you want to do in advance so there's no confusion about what to do.  

The people: Good and bad

One last word about the ports and that's the people you will encounter a wide variety of locals in each port you visit.  Some are pushy and some aren't.  When we say "pushy", we mean there are varying degrees of sales pitches to you for their goods or services.  Most often, a simple "no thank you" will suffice in ending their conversation, but some ports do have locals that will spend more time trying to convince you to spend your money.  It's hard to generalize about any port or people, so do your research to know if the port you are visiting will have locals that can be more aggressive than others.

Cruising 101: Tips

In:
06Aug2010

One of the most debated topics when it comes to cruising is gratuities, or tips.  Tips are found throughout your cruise vacation and differ in the amount to give as well as the frequency to give.  Gratuity is general is a very subjective matter but it's something you need to know about before you cruise so you can better plan your budget for your trip.

Obligatory Gratuity

Of all the tips you may or may not hand out, there are a few people on the ship that everyone should tip at least something to.  These are...

  • Stateroom attendant
  • Waiter
  • Assistant Waiter
  • Head Waiter

These four people are the crew members you will have the most contact with during your cruise.  While there may be some discussion of how much to tip them, there's little doubt that they all should be tipped at the very least. Because there's so much confusion as to how much to tip, Royal Caribbean provides a list of suggested gratuity amounts.

  • Suite attendant: $7.25 USD a day per guest
  • Stateroom attendant: $5.00 USD a day per guest
  • Dining Room Waiter: $3.75 USD a day per guest
  • Assistant Waiter: $2.15 USD a day per guest
  • Headwaiter: $0.75 USD a day per guest

These suggested rates are just that...suggestions.  Basically, if you feel the service you received was within your expectations, these amounts are fitting.  If you feel the service was better than you expected, you could always tip more.  Every person has their own ideas of how much tip is "right", so it's up to you but at least these figures will give you a good starting point.

Other Gratuities

You will quickly find gratuity opportunities elsewhere on your cruise.  If you order a drink from a bar or wait staff, a 15% gratuity will automatically be added to your bar bill or wine check when you are served.  There is also an option for tipping more, but generally the automatically included tip will suffice.

Even before you board your cruise, there are porters at the cruise terminal to help you check in your luggage.  These folks tend to be very helpful and it's customary to tip them $1-$2 per bag. It's not required and if you opt not to tip them, your bags will still make it on the ship, however, many opt to tip these people for the prompt service they provide

If you take an excursion, the decision to tip can be less obvious.  Some excursions do include gratuity in the cost of the excursion, so be sure to check the description of any excursion you take to see if that is the case.  It's hard to give a general answer for if it's right to tip on any excursion as it's less clear.  Personally, I recommend tipping if someone gives you or your family service above and beyond what's reasonable.  A good example may be if you are doing a parasailing excursion and the staff gives you or someone in your party a few extra minutes, or perhaps lets your daughter "drive" the boat.  Special things like this are good reasons to tip the staff a few extra dollars.

How to tip

The gratuities for the wait staff and your stateroom attendant can be prepaid either before you book your cruise, added to your SeaPass account during your cruise or paid in cash at the end of your cruise.  Regardless of how you pay for them, labeled envelopes will be delivered to your stateroom during your cruise to allow for an easy exchange of gratuities.

Tipping others is less formal, as you will either be giving them cash or amending the bill you receive after getting a drink.  When you're off the ship, tipping by cash is the preferred method and it's best to bring a lot of $1 and $5 bills with you to have on hand for tipping.  Don't worry about carrying local currency, nearly every destination you visit will be people more than willing to accept United States currency.

When to Tip

In addition to how much to tip, there's a great deal of discussion of when to tip.  Everyone has their own preferences.  Some people like to tip a little at the beginning of the cruise to ensure great service for the rest of the cruise.  Others prefer to tip at the conclusion of the cruise to reward good service.  There isn't a right or wrong way to tip, it's a completely subjective decision.  For your waiters and stateroom attendants, it's most common to tip them on the last night of the cruise.

Cruising 101: When to arrive

In:
Category: 
16Jul2010

After you decide on a cruise vacation, one of the first decisions to make is when should you arrive.  Assuming you don't live within driving distance of the port where the ship embarks,  you're going to need to fly down for your cruise.  There are two options: arrive the day of the cruise or arrive at least one day before your cruise departs.  Choosing which option can depend largely on you and your circumstances.

Advantages of arriving early

If you choose to arrive to port a day or more earlier than your cruise, you're all but guaranteeing that you will be able to make your cruise.  Even if your flight is delayed or cancelled, more than likely you will have enough time for the next flight to get you down in time.  Circumstances like weather, plane problems or airline scheduling changes can all occur without warning and by arriving a day or more early for your cruise, you can have plenty of time to deal with it without missing the ship.

Arriving a day or more early for your cruise also starts your vacation earlier and gives you more time on vacation.  It's generally hard to argue with that!

Advantages of arriving on the day your cruise leaves

If you arrive on the day your cruise leaves, you won't have to spend more money on a hotel, rental car, food, etc that would be necessary if you flew down a day or more in advance.  If you're on a budget for your vacation, you may simply not be able to afford to spend a day or more in advance of your cruise.  

If you're worried about missing your cruise due to outside circumstances, cruise insurance can often alleviate those fears.  

Things to check for before deciding

  • Check airfares for arriving the day of your cruise versus arriving early.  You may find significant savings for one option over the other.
  • Research hotel rates for your stay and figure out if there's an option that works for you to arrive early. If you're going during a busy time of year or during a local event, hotel space at a reasonable price may not be available.

Cruising 101: Choosing Excursions

In:
08Jul2010

Once you have your cruise booked, you're going to want to figure out what you want to do when your ship stops at various ports of call.  There's a multitude of options available with different costs.

Types of Excursions

There are many type of excursions.  Some are simple, such as transportation to and from a local beach.  Others are complex and can last many hours.  It's hard to generalize the various types of excursions that all ports can encompass but here are the most common types of excursions.

  • Beach trip
  • Animal interactions
  • Guided tour
  • Snorkeling/Scuba

Length of Excursion

Each excursion requires a set amount of time.  Some are short, others allow you to be flexible and some will consume the entire time you are in port.  It's important to figure out what your priority is.  If you'd like to do multiple things in port, like go to the beach, do some shopping and visit a local point of interest, you're best not picking an excursion that takes up multiple hours.  On the other hand, if the port doesn't interest you much, you could do fine with an excursion that last much of the day.

Cost

You can flip through a list of excursions easily enough and highlight a dozen or so that sound interesting but money isn't an unlimited resource for most of us, so you have to be picky.  The cost of an excursion can range from less than $20 per person to well over $100 per person.  

While not always the case, sometimes it can be cheaper to book an excursion by yourself rather than use the cruise line.  

Booking on your own vs. cruise line

The cruise you're on will provide a lengthy list of excursions to buy at all of the ports you are stopping at.  There are some advantages to booking with the cruise line...

  • Convenience: By booking with the cruise line, you can book it quite easily without much hassle.
  • No-dock refund: If for some reason your ship doesn't dock at a port, you aren't on the hook to pay for the excursion still.
  • Safety: Generally, excursions booked through the cruise ship are done with reputable third parties.  These operators are screened ahead of time by the cruise line and should be safe to use.

Booking an excursion on your own has its own set of benefits...

  • Price: Often, you can save money by booking an excursion on your own since you are cutting out the cruise line as the middle man. 
  • Wider selection: By booking on your own, you can find many more options of things to do at port.

Ultimately, the decision may come down to individual excursions and comparing your options.  What works for one person in one port may not work for another.  

Researching excursions

At first glance, all the excursions look like great options but you're smart to do your homework on them.  It's not to say you won't have a good time on them, but there could be a pitfall you aren't seeing or perhaps there are better options out there for you.

The best places to find information on excursions is from other people.  Popular sites like CruiseCritic have forums on ports of call where you can search through reports of other people's past experiences on excursions or post your own question.  Also, a Google search for the excursion can reveal more helpful information.

How to book

On Royal Caribbean, you can start booking shore excursions online up to 4 days before your sail date. Alaska Cruisetour land excursions can be reserved online up to 10 days prior to the start date of your Alaska Cruisetour.  After those time periods, you will have to book the excursion on the ship.  

Once you know what excursion you want to take, you should book it as soon as possible to ensure it does not sell out.

Cruising 101: Arrival Day

In:
Category: 
25Jun2010

The day you arrive for your cruise is a big day.  Odds are you've been looking forward to it for weeks, months, and in some cases, years so it makes sense for you to want to make this day as perfect as you can make it.

When to Arrive

When to arrive to the port depends on how cavalier you want to be.  Many experts suggest arriving to the port the day before because that way, you don't have to worry about your flight being delayed or traffic holding you back.  In addition, arriving a day early allows you to be more relaxed and ready to get your vacation started right.  On the other hand, arriving a day early can cost you more money for hotel accommodations, rental car, etc.  The bottom line is you want to be able to be at port and checked-in well in advance of the time the cruise line says the ship will leave.

Personally, I like to arrive the day before the cruise and on the day of the cruise's embarkation, arrive at the port in the late morning so I can be one of the first to board the ship.  By arriving early, it maximizes the time I have on the ship that first day and the first day is usually a busy day on the ship.  First, by boarding the ship around noon or so, you can have lunch on board the ship (instead of paying more money out of pocket to eat lunch somewhere else).  Second, you'll be in prime position to book amenities on the ship if you haven't done so in advance such as spa appointments, excursions or to change dining requests.

Getting on board

Once you are on board the ship, there's lots to see and do.  I already mentioned grabbing lunch and booking various things as possibilities.  If you're new to the ship, be sure to take some time to explore the ship, especially since your cabin may not be ready yet for you to get into.  Take a walk around the decks that circumnavigate the ship and get a feel for where things are and even scope out some things you'd like to do during your cruise.  This is also a good time to take a tour of the spa, although be forewarned that the sales pitch can be a little heavy handed but there's nothing wrong with simply looking around.

Eventually, your cabin will be ready for you so you can see where you'll be calling home for the next few days.  It's also a good opportunity to meet your steward, who will be keeping your room in the condition you'd like.  If there are any special requests needed, now is a good time to mention it to him or her.  

As the ship approaches the time to leave port, it's hard to beat the sail away party that occurs on the pool deck or if you have a cabin with a balcony, enjoy the view from there.  Either way, you'll want to enjoy the fun of leaving port and getting the cruise started.

Cruising 101: Choosing your itinerary

In:
Category: 
15Jun2010

One of the first considerations (of many) is which cruising itinerary, or schedule of ports that your ship will visit, to take.  Royal Caribbean serves quite a number of ports around the world, so choosing the one for you to go one can be tricky for a first timer.  Like many choices on cruising, your budget will dictate a lot of what your options are.  

Budget

Sure that cruise to the Mediterranean sounds great, but given the cost of airfare and the cruise itself, it may not be financially practical.  Figure out about how much you're willing to spend on your cruise.  Be sure to include costs such as airfare, rental car, parking and of course the cruise itself when comparing it against how much you want to spend.  If you're living in the United States, odds are cruises that disembark from the United States will be cheaper overall due to the lower cost of both the cruise and transportation to get there.  

Ports of Call

Once you've figured out about how much you can play with, your list of potential cruises should be narrowed down. Next, you'll want to look at the ports they serve and determine which is of the most interest to you.  Some people are good with a cruise that serves ports close to the United States, while others prefer destinations far more exotic.  When choosing your ports, consider weather, political status, language and other cultural barriers.  

How many nights?

The length of your cruise matters just as much as where your ship takes you.  Shorter cruises will visit less stops but will cost less.  Longer cruises will visit more stops, cost more, but the cost per day may actually be cheaper than a shorter cruise.  If it's your first cruise, a cruise greater than one week may be too much to start with but a 3 night or less cruise may be too little to get a good feeling of if you like cruising.  You'll want something that will not be over or under whelming while fitting into your budget.

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