In last month's post, we addressed that we really need to consider how long of a vacation you can take before we start to delve into a more detailed cruise vacation search. We mentioned that the length of your time away will narrow down or even eliminate certain cruise destinations.
So now that you have determined the amount of time off you can take, the next thing we need to decide is...where would you like to cruise to? The answer to this question even somewhat determines the time of year that we need to be looking at. For example...if you tell us that you can be gone from 8 to 10 days, then we know we have a lot of cruise itinerary options. But, if you then tell us that you can only go during the month of October or February, then we have now eliminated some cruise options.
Cruises to places like Alaska or the Mediterranean are seasonal. Those destinations usually are open for cruise vacations during the summer months (May to September). So if you can only take your cruise vacation during the Fall or Winter, then we know we need to focus in on itineraries that are great for those times of the year.
So lets show some examples of types of itineraries and their corresponding seasons to better show what we are talking about.
1. Mediterranean cruises (i.e Spain, Italy, Greece, France etc). These typically start sailing the first of May until the end of October.
2. North Eastern/Canadian Cruises (i.e New England, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick etc). These also start sailing around mid to late May until the end of October.
3. Bahamas. Cruises will sail to the Bahamian islands year round.
4. Caribbean. Cruises will also sail to Caribbean ports year round, but more ship options come available around the end of October until the end of April. Cruise lines will then reposition a lot of their ships to other destinations...like the ones mentioned above.
5. Bermuda. While you might think this would also be a year around cruise itinerary, it too is also very seasonal and typically starts late April until mid to late October.
6. Alaska. As mentioned already, sailings to Alaska will begin early May and end around mid to late September.
So lets now see how the things we have discussed in these two posts (how long, where and when do want to vacation) help kick off the cruise search process. Let's say you can take a week off work and can leave for your vacation on a Saturday as long as you are back in time for work the following Monday after the cruise. Let's also say that you want to cruise to Alaska. Based on that, we know we are looking at 7 night cruises during the months of May to Sept and ones that leave most likely from Seattle or Vancouver. Knowing we need to fly you into the embarkation port the day before the actual cruise date, we would be looking for a cruise that leaves on a Sunday and returns on a Sunday. Those factors alone eliminate some cruise options and narrows the search.
After we have those details established, the next thing we have to consider is...what is your overall budget for the cruise vacation? And that will be discussed in part 3 where we will talk about the REAL costs of a cruise vacation. So again, if you are not subscribed to this blog, click on that "subscribe" button up in the corner to make sure you will be notified of our next post in this series.