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First Cruise: Choosing the Right Cruise Ship

Planning your first cruise really starts with you and your vacation style. Are you an active person, like to relax, need a quiet pool or are your foodie? Walter and Rebecca are here to help match your vacation style to the right types of ships.

You will definitely fall into multiple categories and within your vacation party you will have differences. But that's the beauty about cruising, many ships cater to multiple vacationing styles which is one of the reasons they're such a great vacation destination. Walter and Rebecca offer their advice for matching up your vacation style to the best ship.

Full Transcription. Apologies for any typos.

Walter 0:00 Hey folks, welcome back to Where's Walter. I'm Walter. Rebecca 0:02 And I'm Rebecca. Walter 0:03 And today we're talking about your first cruise. What kind of vacationer are you? Walter 0:07 So planning your first cruise really starts with what kind of vacationer are you? And for the purposes of this episode, I've broken that down into: Are you an active person? Do you like to relax? Is the pool very important to you? And are you a foodie? Rebecca 0:33 And we realize some of you are going to fall into more than one category. Walter 0:37 More than one category. Yeah. Rebecca 0:39 Maybe all of them. Walter 0:40 Or maybe all of them. And that's the cool thing. There are so many ships out there today. No matter what kind of person you are, you will find it on pretty much any ship. Well, maybe not the active part. If you go on Holland America. Not quite so active except for the dancing. There is dancing on Holland America. Most of you will probably fall into multiple categories. And Rebecca and I, now we've sailed on, now correct me if I'm wrong, we've sailed on Princess, on Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Disney Celebrity. Did I leave one out? Rebecca 1:14 Norwegian. Walter 1:14 Norwegian. So we've sailed on those six so far. And we're going to be sailing on Virgin Voyages. And we're going to be sailing on Carnival next year. So we've got some pretty good experience on these various types of ships. So starting off with you active people, like you got to have something to do all the time or you want to have you know, I like rock climbing. I want to do the I want to do zip lining, I want to do all this stuff. If you're an active person, you probably want to start by looking at Norwegian Royal Caribbean, Disney, believe it or not, and Carnival. Those are the ships that are generally going to have the most activities. You're going to have your rope courses, your zip lines. They're all going to have mini golf. They're going to have waterparks. Carnival is about to have a roller coaster at sea. What else do they have? Rebecca? They have one for... Bumper cars. Oh yeah, skydiving on some of the Royal Caribbean. Rebecca 2:07 The bungee.. Walter 2:08 Bungee jump thingy. You know there's like so much on all these ships. Oh, Walter 2:14 Laser tag, surf boarding. All the Royals have surf boarding. So if you're an active kind of person, these are probably the lines you want to start with. Virgin Voyages is coming out now and they are really pushing the active fitness thing. They've got outdoor exercise areas and things like that. So they're really pushing that they're going to be a very active type of cruise. So if you're an active person, those are the cruise lines that you want to start with. But then even within those cruise lines, need to look at the individual ship because they don't all have everything. Especially the smaller and the older ships. You'll see things like Royal Caribbean is saying "now amplified", so they're they're going in and retrofitting their ship and they're adding the surfing and they're adding you know some bungee things and things like that. So start with Norwegian, Royal, Disney and Carnival, and possibly Virgin if you want to have a more active cruise, especially when you're on the ship itself. Now, if you're a person who likes to relax, maybe one a little bit of a quieter ship and understand that all of these ships again have quiet areas, even the noisy ones up on the top going to have quiet areas down below or inside. But if you definitely want the overall vibe to potentially be a little quieter Princess, Norwegian, believe it or not. Celebrity, Holland America and Disney, believe it or not. So like Princess is generally a very much quieter vibe. At night, they've got some really cool retro things going in especially when they had the pool party going it's really awesome at night. But it definitely has a quieter almost like a classic. Rebecca 3:43 They don't have all the bells and whistles. Rebecca 3:45 The extras. Walter 3:45 No. Walter 3:46 No they don't. They don't have all your ropes. In fact, they don't have any that some of the ships don't even have mini golf anymore, but some of them did have a golf simulator, which was actually really cool. On Norwegian, you know, when you get away from the upper deck, they're actually the like, the Breakaway, the Getaway they have a beautiful boardwalk or a waterfront they call it sure, where you can sit outside all day. We would just sit outside all day there's some outdoor bars so we would just sit out watch the ocean go by, we'd read, we'd play games and get drinks from the bar. But we were way down on deck six, five or six whatever that deck was. Celebrity definitely a quiet vibe during the day, very quiet vibe during the day. Now the thing about Celebrity especially with the Solstice Class ship, when the bands are playing, it actually gets very noisy at night right up the center of the ship. But it is a very nice classic way of cruising. Now Holland, Holland's the one that had the good library. Rebecca 4:36 Holland had it and just beautiful library, which was also attached to their internet center and their coffee bar. Walter 4:44 Exactly. So yes, a coffee very, very good. In Disney, believe it or not, during the day, in the adult areas, they have all these adult areas where the kids can't go and it's actually quite pleasant and quiet. The adult pool for example, on the Disney Fantasy that we went on, had a swim up bar in there and the coffee shop was right there next to it, so it was absolutely wonderful. So if you just kind of want to, if you're more for relaxing and I don't care about all the activities then those are some of the ship, Princess, Norwegian, Celebrity, Holland and Disney could also be for you. And you see how Norwegian and Disney they fell into both categories. So if you got people that really want to go, go all out, they can go up to the top of the ship and you just want to be quiet you go down to the lower decks, that's all. If a quiet pool is very important to you like a pool that you can just lounge around and then when you want to go in and take a dip, you can take a dip without 5000 people being in the pool. Some of the ships look at or some of the cruise lines to look at would be Princess, Holland America, Celebrity and some of the Royal Caribbean ships and by some of the Royal Caribbean we mean a lot of these lines have indoor solarium pools, absolutely beautiful pools, and on most of these ships that solarium pool is adults only. So it's very quiet. So there's not like a lot of kids. There's absolutely no activities going on there. So it's not like a time for the volleyball. It's time for this time for that. No movie showing it's very, very quiet in these pools, Rebecca 6:09 Although I do think there's at least one that has a solarium but does not have a pool in that solarium. Walter 6:18 Yes, actually, there were a couple of newer Royal Caribbean ship. They have a beautiful indoor solarium and they got big hot tubs in there, but no actual pool. We really love like Princess has absolutely gorgeous indoor pools. Holland absolutely beautiful indoor pools. Celebrity just has like this really quiet music piped in and they've got a little little cafe sitting right there as well. So you can grab yourself a little snacks and coffee. And the Royal Caribbeans, the ones that actually have the pool in the solarium absolutely, absolutely stunning. So if if a pool is important to you and a quiet relaxing pool that doesn't have thousands of people in it doesn't have games going on all day, Princess, Holland, Celebrity and some of the Royal ships. Now, if you're a foodie, you really like food and that just speaks to my heart because I am an Italian I got to eat some good food. So I'm going to shift that we've found or some of the cruise lines that we've found that are good with food are Celebrity, Disney, believe it or not, Princess. Those are the three that we've found that have been absolutely consistent with some of the best food and believe it or not the absolute best food for us of any cruise that we've taken has been on the Disney Fantasy. Right? Hands down. Would you agree with that? Rebecca 7:27 Ah, Walter 7:29 Oh, you are not you are not gonna diss me on this. Rebecca 7:32 No, I mean, I think it was definitely up there. But I don't know that I would... Walter 7:36 I mean, personally, my favorite meal of any ship that we've been on was on the Disney Fantasy. We went to Remy. And for those of you who know about Victoria and Albert's on land, this is kind of the equivalent to Victoria and Albert's, although I think it's actually a better dining experience. Rebecca 7:50 It was amazing. Walter 7:52 It was absolutely amazing. Right? On our last cruise on Princess we were on the Crown Princess and we were club level and that gave us access to a special area, the main dining room. And each night the dining captain would be making a special entree or dessert right there. Right like two tables away from us. He was actually cooking. And after the first, I ordered whatever he was making the first night, then every night I didn't even look at the menu. I'm like, whatever he's making, I'm gonna have that. And that was easily the best main dining room food that we've ever had. Rebecca 8:25 That was amazing. Blu on our last Celebrity, we had the aqua class on Celebrity and Blu was, maybe not as consistent, but very good when it was good. Walter 8:37 So Blu is for people who book special cabins on the Celebrity so certain ships, you book, you know, a spa class, you booked a suite, even some of the like higher end balconies, you get access to different restaurants that you can go to every night so you can go to the main dining room if you want, or you can go to these other other restaurant that are no extra charge because they're part of the experience of booking the cabin. We'll get into that a lot more in another chapter. Now from what we've seen of some of the bloggers and the reviews that have been on the Virgin ship so far, Scarlet Lady, their food game looks like it's living up to the hype. It looks like the food is going to be absolutely amazing on that. So if you're foodie, you might want to consider the Scarlet Lady and when it comes out the Valiant Lady, because they are pushing, no extra fees for any of the food on there. So if you're a foodie, definitely the three cruise lines we would recommend would be Celebrity, Disney or Princess and then keep an eye out on the Virgin Voyages ships as well. So the destination that you're going to go to kind of plays into what kind of vacationer are you. The three most popular are the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe. And the Caribbean is generally the cheapest way to go cruise and it also has the most variety. You know, you can just lay on a beach all day and do nothing but drink mai tais, or you can go ziplining, four wheeling, Jeeps, you name it. There's there's so many there's so much variety of the types things that you can do. Oh, I didn't mention snorkeling, which is one of Rebecca's favorites. Rebecca 10:03 I love it. Walter 10:04 She loves to snorkel. I just can't, my brain cannot just can't get it that I can actually breathe through that hose. So but I do like to swim. And then we just did the thing recently that we'll talk about in another episode, which is the BOSS submarine, BOSS submersible, where you can actually go underwater in a diving bell and not even have to worry about the snorkel. And you sound like Darth Vader, and it's actually kind of cool. So the Caribbean is a great it's a great when, when there's multiple people who like to do various things. That's a really good destination. Alaska tend to be a little bit more active. You know, you've got helicopters, you got dog sleds, you've got lots and lots of hiking, but it can also just be you know, just walk around town and not do much of anything. We went whale watching. We did hiking. We land, we took a helicopter to a glacier. It was absolutely amazing. Rebecca 10:50 Train ride. Walter 10:51 And train ride. Alaska will be among the more expensive because the season is short, it's only May to September and there's only so many ships that can go up there. So that will cost more certainly than going to the Caribbean. And then in Europe, there's just so many places that you can go I mean, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and everything in between all over the Mediterranean, coming around to Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, so many places that you can go over in Europe. Obviously, if you live in Europe, it can be a little cheaper to do those cruises. If you live in the US a little more expensive to go over there. But the destinations will probably play a part in you know, what kind of vacationer are you. I mean, you really want that first cruise to be a good experience. So try to pick something, you know, combination of a ship and a destination that really, really appeals to you. Another thing to consider, how much time do you have? I would say to really get the cruise experience, try to do a seven day cruise for your first one. If not, certainly you can take if you've only got a weekend and got a long weekend, you can take these three day cruises to the Caribbean all day long. Five days is good. When you think about it, so in three days, you're really gonna to get a sense of the ship, you may not really get to experience everything that the ship has to offer in just three days. And five days, you should be able to experience most of the ship, maybe not all the food but certainly most of the ship. Seven days gives you the best chance to explore all of the food that you want to explore. And to do as many excursions as you want to do at the various destinations and then to see what it's really all about on a cruise. Now lastly, the time of year does affect, like what may or may not be available, and certainly what ships might be available because cruise lines tend to shift all over the globe. So for the winter season, you'll see there's a lot more ships going to the Caribbean, but then once it starts to warm up, a lot of those ship disperse and they'll go off to Alaska, they'll go to Europe. So there may be a particular ship that you want to go on and you want to go to the Caribbean on that ship, but it's not available at the time of year that you want to take your vacation. So that's also important too. Once you nail down the type of ship, and where you'd like to go, you might have to alter the time that you go to get that itinerary and get that ship to leave from the port that you want it to leave from. Rebecca 13:07 Obviously, if you have school aged children, Walter 13:10 Hmm... Rebecca 13:11 You're definitely limited to their holidays. Walter 13:14 Yeah. Rebecca 13:15 But if you don't, know that's a good opportunity to have some things like Disney's much more affordable when the kids are in school. Walter 13:26 Yes. Rebecca 13:27 And affordable is kind of in quotes. Walter 13:29 Yeah, yes, Disney is without a doubt. Well, not the most expensive, but for the mainstream cruise lines, you know, they are anywhere from double the triple what a similar cruise would be on another ship. So there you go. Step one in planning your first cruise, matching up the ship and the itinerary to the type of vacationer you are. I hope this was helpful. If you like what you heard, please subscribe to the channel. I'm Walter. Rebecca 13:53 I'm Rebecca. Walter 13:54 We'll see you next time.

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