How to Choose a Cruise Ship For A Great Cruise Vacation

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Are you thinking about taking your very first cruise? If you are, you are in for a real treat! In my opinion there is nothing greater than getting away from the cold Midwest for a week each winter and sailing through the warm Caribbean. But an important part of your vacation planning is choosing the right cruise ship.

Does it really matter which cruise ship you choose? Maybe yes and maybe no. Since this is your first cruise you have nothing to compare it with, so it will probably be a great experience for you no matter which ship you select.

Our first cruise was on the Nordic Empress, a 48,000 ton Royal Caribbean ship. At that size, the Nordic was about half the size of the other ships in their fleet. Our vacation was wonderful, but we quickly found there was not a lot to see on the ship.

On the other end of the spectrum we have cruised on some of the larger 150,000 ton ships — and let me tell you, they are BIG! Because of their size they offer lots of attractions. There are usually several pools, rock climbing walls, basketball courts, tennis courts, miniature golf, ice skating arenas, etc.

If you have young people with you these attractions are wonderful, and you will get a full report from your kids on every one of them. But if you are on vacation to simply relax and lay by the pool, then a ship this size may be too big.

Another disadvantage of a really large ship is the distance you will have to walk to get places.

For instance, if your cabin is on the 3rd deck in the forward part of the ship, and the pool is on the 14th deck in the aft part of the ship, you have a very long walk if you forgot your sunscreen. Remember, the larger ships are the length of several football fields! That is one reason many seasoned cruisers will pay a little more for a cabin that is in the middle of the ship.

We have found that the perfect sized ship is about 90,000 tons. One of our favorite cruises was on the Radiance of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship. We also thoroughly enjoyed sailing on the Grand Princess, a Princess Cruise Lines ship. Both were about the same size and were perfect for a wonderful cruise. The ships felt more intimate, yet there was plenty of things to do.

Cruise lines offer different type of dining arrangements. We enjoy having the same table partners and the same wait staff for each meal, so we normally choose a ship that offers traditional dinner seating. Many ships today offer open seating at meals. If you choose open seating you may sit with just your companions and will not have a preset time for dinner.

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a cruise ship for your vacation. I hope some of these tips help!

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