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Spring is a wonderful time to plan a cruise. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time cruiser, you’ll need to make some major decisions to help you narrow down your choices. Where do you begin and what are some of the issues to address? After all, a cruise is a major expenditure and you want it to fulfill your hopes and dreams. Here are some of the most important considerations in planning your picture-perfect cruise adventure.

Ocean vs. River Cruises

Ocean and river cruises are two distinct adventures. Ocean cruise ships are much larger and therefore carry more passengers. You’ll have some travel days when you don’t dock. You may be amongst several thousand people as opposed to river cruise ships which generally carry two hundred or fewer passengers. Ocean cruisers have much more room to explore and more variety in dining areas, onboard activities, with more planned excursions. They may have larger cabins and more entertainment available.

River cruise ships are smaller and may offer only one lounge or dining area. They will have smaller spas and gyms and may not have certain amenities such as casinos, bars, and computer stations. Their ports are the key attractions, not the time spent onboard. Cabins may be smaller, buffet dining may be offered rather than sit-down service. You can expect many walking tours at the ports with guides to direct and inform. One plus is that the smaller river cruisers can dock in the heart of the cities and shorten the walking time to onshore destinations.

What is Your Focus?

What is the purpose of your cruise? Do you want to see a certain part of the world? Do you long for uninterrupted time on deck, just sun-bathing and relaxing? Are you looking for classes, sporting events, or top of the line entertainment on the cruise ship? Or maybe you’re in the market for a scenic cruise where you spend a lot of time on observation decks taking in the sights. Once you decide the focus of your cruise, you’ll be able to search for the best fit for you.

A Note to Singles

There are many choices for solo travel aboard cruise ships. Be aware that singles cruises are not the same as traveling solo. If you’re looking to meet a new guy or gal then you’ll want to search for cruises that offer singles meet-up opportunities. Solo travel is another consideration. In either case be aware of the single supplement fees charged on some cruises. With a little time spent searching, you’ll be able to find cruises that waive that fee. Some ships even offer single occupancy cabins. Though they’re small, it’s nice to have the privacy when traveling alone.

Health and Mobility Issues

Be aware of your own limitations when it comes to strength and stamina. Some tours are hectic marathons with a lot of walking, some climbing and long days ashore. You may want to look for cruises with minimal exercise or choose to skip some of the excursions. Scenic cruises tend to offer more opportunity to enjoy beautiful landscapes from the deck and minimize strenuous activity. Tailor your cruise to your unique needs. Be sure to check with the cruise line before booking if you need any type of extra help with ship access such as wheelchair boarding. They will inform you of any ports which may not have adequate wheelchair access.

Nostalgia Cruises

Some rather new choices on your cruising menu now include nostalgia cruises. These tend to relate to historical events such as World War II or the Vietnam war.  Cruises take guests to museums, sites of important battles, and tours of memorials. There are cruises to Viet Nam and Cambodia, Pearl Harbor, and various European battle sites.

Check out the following websites to help you plan your spring cruise:

Best Ships for Cruisers with Disabilities

Best Cruises for Singles

Best Cruises for Scenery

Best River Cruises