Pick the Per­fect Cruise

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Travel -

BY ME­LANIE EGAN

Whether it’s a bal­cony suite or a cut­price cabin, cruise lines are mak­ing life on the ocean wave eas­ier for all price points. “Cruis­ing is a good way to visit sev­eral des­ti­na­tions while un­pack­ing only once, but some cruise com­pa­nies and trips may be bet­ter suited for spe­cific needs,” says cruise con­sul­tant Sharyn Reeves from My Dis­cov­er­ies travel agency.

“Shorter itin­er­ar­ies in the Pa­cific Is­lands, Caribbean and Aus­tralia ap­peal more to younger peo­ple, while mid­dle-aged and older cruis­ers are more likely to be at­tracted to longer trips to New Zealand, Asia and the Mediter­ranean,” she says. Here are some sug­ges­tions to help you find a cruise that matches your needs.

1 COU­PLES AND ADULTS-ONLY

With stun­ning sun­set views, cou­ples’ spa treat­ments and in­ti­mate spe­cialty res­tau­rants, cruis­ing is an ideal way to spark ro­mance. While op­tions are lim­ited for a to­tally child­free cruise, all Vik­ing Ocean Cruises

lux­ury ships are adults-only (18+). River cruises also of­ten have an age limit of above 12. Other com­pa­nies of­fer adult­sonly re­treats such as Princess Cruises’ The Sanc­tu­ary and Royal Caribbean’s So­lar­ium pool area. You can also plan to book out­side school hol­i­days.

2 HEALTH OR MO­BIL­ITY IS­SUES

Most cruise ships can ac­com­mo­date pas­sen­gers with dis­abil­i­ties or mo­bil­ity is­sues, with wheelchairac­ces­si­ble cab­ins and plenty of handrails. The larger com­pa­nies also of­fer au­dio and vis­ual aids. “How­ever, the num­ber of ac­ces­si­ble cab­ins is usu­ally lim­ited, so book early,” ad­vises Sharon. Make sure your cabin is close to a lift, as the large ships re­quire a lot of walk­ing, she says. Also choose a cruise that docks in ports, rather than one that shut­tles pas­sen­gers to the des­ti­na­tion in ten­ders (small boats) as you may not be able to get off.

3 FAM­I­LIES WITH CHIL­DREN

In re­sponse to the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of fam­ily groups, many cruise com­pa­nies now of­fer ev­ery­thing from Dis­ney-themed voy­ages to FlowRider surf sim­u­la­tors, ice skat­ing and out­door movies. While all the larger ships of­fer age-spe­cific clubs with daily ac­tiv­i­ties, some don’t look af­ter chil­dren still in nap­pies, so do some re­search be­fore book­ing. Once on the ship, sign up for the kids’ clubs straight away, as places fill up fast.

4 BRING THE REL­A­TIVES

As multi-gen­er­a­tional cruis­ing be­comes more pop­u­lar, cruise lines are adapt­ing their of­fer­ings to in­clude more in­ter­con­nect­ing state­rooms. “With ships of­fer­ing some­thing for ev­ery­one, it is a good way for fam­i­lies of dif­fer­ing in­ter­ests and ages to spend qual­ity time to­gether,” says Sharon.

5 TRAV­EL­LING SOLO

Un­for­tu­nately, most cruise lines charge a sin­gle sup­ple­ment – to cover the cost of the ‘sec­ond’ pas­sen­ger in a twin-share. One ex­cep­tion is Nor­we­gian Cruise Line, which fea­tures snug stu­dio cab­ins on some of its ships priced for solo trav­ellers, with no ex­tra sup­ple­ment to pay.

Large enough to cater to di­verse groups

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