Cruising Converts: Going Sailing for the First Time

Captain talking to passengers
Captain talking to passengers

Pico Iyer, a contributor to Conde Nast Traveler, recently described his first experience on a cruise ship, which happened to be on Emerald Princess, and concluded that voyages are one of the best ways to see the world.

"Here was a chance to wander freely (as I love to do), to see the sights (as my mother loves), and to stay in a comfortable floating hotel where, every day when we awoke, some new wonder was appearing right outside our window," wrote Iyer. "Though cruise-skeptical friends ask me how I can bear to be trapped on a ship with more than 3,000 people I'd otherwise never spend time with, I never feel trapped."

Thousands of travelers can safely call themselves converts after taking their first cruise vacation, and those who are hesitant about whether sailing vacations are right for them might be curious as to what the hoopla is all about. Here are a few things to ask before booking a cruise:

Where to go?

Seafaring vacations go all over the world, whether exploring the southern tip of the Land Down Under on an Australian cruise or heading to the northernmost point reachable by a passenger vessel in Norway. Before reserving a trip, future passengers should think about where they want to go and what they're looking for in a getaway.

When to go?

Although some cruises are available throughout the year, some travelers might want to consider seasonal differences when making their plans, taking into account whether they want to see fall foliage in New England or enjoy perpetual sunlight in the Caribbean. Additionally, budget travelers should keep in mind that discounts are available during off-peak seasons. Talking with a cruise agent is a great way to get advice and weigh the options between summer and winter packages.

What to do?

Even if potential cruisers are like Iyer, who has spent most of his travel time backpacking, Princess offers an array of onboard activities and shore excursions to ensure that passengers stay entertained. With evening entertainment, open buffets and numerous options to mingle with people in the same age group, travelers can share their first-time experience with new friends who they may keep in touch with for years to come. Who knows - maybe the next cruise vacation will include these new buddies.