Travel Smarter: 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Cruise

Want to know if cruising is right for you? AAA Travel Counselors have answers for your questions on choosing a cruise.

If you’ve never taken a cruise before, it can be hard to know what to expect. We sat down with four AAA Travel Counselors—Tara Moncur of Draper, Utah; Bernadette Orosco of Turlock, California; Jeff Hrdlicka of Sparks, Nevada; and Kenn Walton of Clover, California—to answer questions that often arise before choosing a cruise.

Photo: Royal Caribbean International

Vacation Now: How do I know if cruising is for me?
Tara: The best way to know if cruising is right for you is to go on a cruise. For first-time cruisers, I usually recommend choosing a cruise to the Caribbean, where port cities are closer together and the ship spends less time at sea. A seven-day cruise is the perfect amount of time to get a feel for the ship and enjoy the many amenities on board.

Bernadette: Cruising is perfect for travelers who want to visit multiple destinations without having to repeatedly pack and unpack their suitcases. You can be in Mazatlán one day and Puerto Vallarta the next without ever changing rooms.

Photo: Royal Caribbean International

VN: How do I go about choosing a cruise ship?
Kenn: There are several factors that go into deciding which ship is right for you. Travel style is important. Each style will have its own definition of the perfect cruise. Are you traveling as a family, a couple or as a solo cruiser? You should also consider the age range of your party and the types of activities they would find entertaining.

VN: Are cruises really all-inclusive?
Tara: Cruises are one of the best ways to travel, as far as value is concerned, as they include your accommodations, most food selections and entertainment in their pricing. Typically, gratuities will be an additional cost, as will soda and specialty drinks. Optional shore excursions are usually an additional cost, but they can be booked and paid for in advance. The definition of all-inclusive depends on the cruise line, however, so talk to your AAA Travel Counselor before setting sail to learn about the specifics for your cruise.

Photo: Celebrity Cruises

VN: Will I save money by waiting for a last-minute deal when choosing a cruise?
Jeff: Even though there are some last-minute deals out there, they may not have the cabin type or location you want, and you’ll most certainly pay more for your airfare. It’s best to book as far in advance as possible to lock in the best rate, cabin location and airfare. If the cruise line does offer a lower price after you have made the reservation, your AAA Travel Counselor can usually have the rate adjusted to get you the better deal.

VN: What if I want to extend my cruise vacation?
Tara: You can always add extra days to the beginning or end of your cruise. Some guests enjoy escorted land tours, while others choose to explore on their own. The greatest value of AAA Travel is that your AAA Travel Counselor will work out all of the logistics so your trip is seamless as you move from a land package to your cruise package, whether it is independent or escorted.

Inset photos: Royal Caribbean International®; Celebrity Cruises®

Browse our selection of cruises to destinations worldwide and book online. Or call 877-396-7159 to speak to a AAA Travel Counselor.

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Rose Stadt, AAA Travel Counselor, Vallejo, Calif.

More and more people want to customize their escorted trips with longer stays in certain cities or visits to specific sites. I make sure the independent pieces fit seamlessly with the tour.

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