Choosing the right cruise can be confusing, especially with so many ships offering different itineraries, facilities and experiences. For example, if you’re looking for something high octane with round-the-clock entertainment then a relaxing, educational sailing probably won’t tick all the boxes, and vice versa. So, to help you along the way, we’ve put together a few pointers.
Best for families
With Disney-themed dining and clubs for kids from three months to late teens (not to mention Mickey Mouse), the Disney Cruise Line is always a good choice for families. The ships visit sunshine-spots in Europe, the US and the Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean is another good choice because of the plentiful children’s activities on the Freedom Class and Oasis Class ships. On top of the Flowrider surf simulators, rock-climbing walls and ice rinks, there are also teen-only spa areas and dance clubs serving mocktails.
Jason Daniels, managing director at Cruise Circle, recommends Norwegian Cruise Lines for its family-friendly onboard entertainment and Freestyle dining option, handy for families who need to eat when the kids are hungry -- not when it's scheduled in.
Best for loved-up couples
Princess cruise ships have long been a favourite for romantics, mainly due to the large amount of private balcony cabins and suites on board. Other enticing features include the intimate speciality restaurants and Movies Under the Stars -- an ideal setting for a romantic evening.
Further options include P&O’s three adult-only ships -- Arcadia, Adonia and Oriana -- and Celebrity Cruises’ newer ships, which are decked with adult-only solaria, trendy bars and speciality restaurants.
Best for first-timers
"Truth be told, I saw a 5-night cruise in the Top 20 and figured I'd take my mom just to get the experience of having been on a cruise", while not everyone might be as whimsical as our website editor, Sara Kriegel, shorter "taster" cruises are a great way to decide whether you like cruising as a holiday option.
Many cruise companies offer voyages as short as two nights (to places like Rotterdam and Bruges), or short hops around the Med in under a week.
Best for mature travellers
If you’re the sort who prefers educational lectures to rollerblading, a premium or luxury cruise line may be for you. Ships in this category tend to be more spacious and elegantly decorated, though their main appeal is the formal dining and inclusion of enrichment programmes and lectures covering literature, art, history and more. Cruise lines include the Holland America Line, Cunard and Silversea Cruises.
Travelzoo operations director Stephen Dunk says: "We chose Silversea for a few reasons. Firstly it was highly recommended by friends, but the main reason was because the ships are small and intimate -- they can go to many ports larger ships cannot, so the itineraries tend to be more interesting. The all-inclusive element also appealed to us -- no bar bills, no signing and no tipping required."
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