I’ve never been too overwhelmed with wanting to do a cruise and while the idea has popped up a few times over the years as an option for a trip, I’ve always shied away from it for a variety of reasons. But one cruise has always been high on my list and I’m super excited to make it a reality next year when we cruise to Alaska, leaving from Seattle. I fell in love with the US’ most Northern state last year and have always wanted to see more of the coastline of Alaska from a cruise, seeing amazing scenery and enjoying it all from the water.
But when we started planning our cruise from Seattle to Alaska and back, I immediately was completely overwhelmed. Which cruise line? Which type of cabin? Which ship? What time of the year? Which ship has better food, which less kids? There were so many things to consider in order to enjoy our first cruise. So as Nick sat beside me, we spent an afternoon weeding through all the information necessary to pick and plan a cruise that you will enjoy. So if you’re in this boat too (pun intended), here’s what I suggest!
Narrow down ports you want to leave from first.
We knew we’d rather leave from Seattle than Vancouver BC just for ease of travel for us from Portland, so immediately some ships or cruise lines were narrowed out of search due to the port we chose to leave from. Pick this first, it will greatly help narrow down your search.
Then start a spreadsheet outlining all the important factors in your decision.
I started doing this research on my own and quickly realized it would be easier with another person helping as well. So Nick pulled up a spreadsheet and we started entering information as we came across it. We ended up with columns for food, experience, type of clientele, how big the ship was, what type of rooms were recommended, etc. Every important factor that we wanted for our cruise, we entered into the spreadsheet and it made it so much easier to put all the important information in one place.
Look up each cruise line and ship from that port and do your research on all of it – then add all the info you find into your spreadsheet.
I did a full day worth of research as it’s our first cruise, we knew nothing about any cruise lines or ships or anything. We wanted a cruise that was more adults than kids, one with great food and a room with a balcony. We prioritized the things we would find in our research in our spreadsheet so at the end of it, we could make a decision on which line or ship was best for us.
Look into things like families vs. couples, food choices, room choices, etc.
I researched everything I could about all the options available for the cruise we wanted to take at the time of year we wanted and from the port we wanted. I looked into the clientele on each type of ship, was it more geared towards kids and young families or large adult groups or couples. I looked into what the food options were, something that ended up being one of our deciding factors as that’s one of our favorite parts of a trip. I looked up what types of rooms were available, how much upgraded suites were, how big the balconies were and the location on the ships. All the information we gathered, then got put into the spreadsheet which in the end, helped us make out decision.
Decide which room type you want and if you’re willing to spend a little more for a balcony or special room.
We ended up splurging a bit for an upgraded room because it was a little bigger and our particular type gave you VIP access to a couple more restaurants that the normal rooms didn’t have. You have to decide which type of room you want and what you’re willing to pay for – just like a hotel, obviously when you want special add on’s like balconies or larger spaces, you’ll have to splash out more cash. For us, since it’s our first cruise and it’s a full week, we figured it was worth the extra for our situation.
Look into which sailing might work better for you, for example May vs. July.
We went back and forth between May and July sailing for a while but when I started researching it, a lot of articles said we’d see more wildlife on the May sailing versus July, plus it will be a lot less crowded than July so we went with May. But do the research to see which time of the year might be better for your circumstances.