Choosing a cruise

What factors do I consider when choosing a cruise?

Time of year and itinerary are on top of the list. I go between September and May (no holidays). Prices are lower and there are fewer families.

I go to a shop that specializes in cruises and get all the brochures for cruise lines I am interested in. These will show deck plans, departure dates and stops.

Now down to selecting.

From where does one depart? What is the add-on cost of the air? Do I have to arrive one day early to make certain I get to the dock on time?

I watch for ads in the newspaper travel section and for prices in magazines but read the small print for extra charges like port taxes, tips, etc. I book an inside berth (and inquire about upgrades).

In an article in my local paper in October, Cindy Loose suggested using a travel agent, writing “. . . since it usually doesn’t cost you a dime, so use their expertise.” She also suggests you explore, and

I have a great travel agent, but I also use AA (auto club).

Ships have personalities; I like the ships of Celebrity and Carnival, then Holland America and other lines.

Regarding repositioning cruises through the Panama Canal, the stops (especially on the West Coast portion) are in countries where the locations of the sites and cities you want to see mean you take long bus rides. Ask how many hours you will be aboard a bus. If you do decide to take a canal cruise and you are from the West Coast, go from east to west as you will have a short trip to get home.

Walnut Creek, CA