cruise shipAnyone who knows me would be shocked to hear me utter the words, “You should really try a cruise.” But … you should really try a cruise!

Over the past five years, the travel industry has seen a swell in the number of adventurers choosing to cruise through their vacations. Not even the faltering economy has decreased our love of seeing the sights of some of the world’s most exotic, interesting and well-traveled spots – all while forging the seas.

I think people love the idea of exploring different destinations while unpacking only once. Imagine ticking Barcelona, St. Tropez, Monte Carlo, Marseilles, Portofino, and Rome off your list of must-see destinations in one seven-day cruise. Cruising offers the perfect chance to experience, in small doses, several countries at once – and affords you the opportunity to make note of where you might want to return for a more extended stay.

At Explorations, we’re receiving more inquiries from clients who have never cruised before. They want to understand the attraction, the benefits, the pricing structure, and even the hesitations or possible pitfalls of traveling cruise-style.

And, with so many options, it’s best to do your research before booking a cruise. Do you want the uber-luxury, all-inclusive Yachts of Seabourn; the more traditional Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines; or the mega-ship experience of RCCL’s Oasis of the Seas?

Understanding the various cruise lines, their “personalities,” their strengths, weaknesses and nuances really will determine your experience. If you choose the wrong line or the wrong ship, it’s like ordering the wrong entrée for dinner. The difference is, of course, this choice could leave a bad taste in your mouth for seven days.

When planning a vacation, first-time cruisers will benefit from keeping the following in mind:

Plan by the book. Cruise lines offer strong early-booking incentives, and that’s when you have access to the widest selection of available cabins.

Talk to an expert. An experienced and savvy travel agent is your best source of information on choosing the right cruise line, the perfect itinerary, the shore excursions that suit you – all of those key decisions that shape your trip.

Get your feet wet. Start with a seven-day Europe cruise, before you tackle that 14-day Baltic cruise.

Make it a family affair. Consider cruising with your family and friends. Multi-generational travel has never been more popular, and cruise lines know that so they typically offer something for everyone … including opportunities to take a break from one another!

Wherever you decide to go – enjoy, relax and experience!

Jennifer Campbell is a partner and travel consultant with Explorations. Contact her at Jennifer@explorationsltd.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.