People take cruises for different reasons, and some things are more important to some than others.
To find out what matters most to cruise passengers, we recently asked our readers on social media what factors were most important to them when deciding on which cruise to take.
After combing through over 300 comments, we identified the 10 biggest factors that influence cruise decisions. Here is the list, in order of most to least mentioned factors.
Many replies to the question included more than one factor, and all mentions were taken into account.
It was no surprise that the price of the cruise itself was the biggest consideration. 22% of respondents said that the cost was the largest factor, indicating the importance of value in the decision process.
This is not only the biggest reason people love to go on cruises but also a large reason certain budget cruise lines remain popular and are able to fill up ships rather quickly. Many comments also suggested that cruisers pay close attention to deals and the seasonality of cruise prices.
It has been reported by Reuters that cruise vacations are still 15% to 20% cheaper than the equivalent of a land based vacation.
Almost 18% said that the destination of a cruise was their biggest factor. This is often where a cruise search begins. It’s also the first question people will ask when you tell them that you just booked a cruise.
Taking a cruise to a destination is often cheaper than flying there, and although a cruise ship will only give a sampling of a destination because of the limited time in port, it allows travelers to see more places in a brief amount of time.
We recently reported on some transatlantic cruises that were cheaper than flying to Europe from the U.S.
With some bucket-list cruise destinations like Alaska, the Mediterranean, Tahiti, and Hawaii, a cruise ship can take travelers to some of the most sought-after places in the world.
“Where is it going? Your bed is the same on all the ships!!” – Kris J.
The itinerary is more closely tied to the last point, and if we were to combine the two categories it would be the largest factor in choosing a cruise. But the itinerary itself is more specific and involves the exact cruise ports that will be visited on a sailing.
Almost 14% of respondents mentioned the itinerary being a significant factor.
One reader put it this way:
“Ports of Call! I care more about the Destinations then the Ship!” – Eddie P.
Some mentioned that visiting a new port of call or an itinerary they have never tried before was important to them. Even visiting the same destination but with a different itinerary can provide a vastly different experience.
Over 12% of the comments mentioned the ship itself as a primary factor when choosing a cruise. Many looked to book a cruise on a new ship or a ship they had never been on before.
Here are a few comments that emphasized the ship is a major factor in their decision:
“I attempt to try a ship and/or at least one port of call that I haven’t yet experienced. I ALWAYS cruise with Carnival.” – Joe C.
“At this point, I just try to look for ships I haven’t been on yet.” – Jeremie S.
“The Ship is the most important!!!! As the dates, cruise stops and so forth are facilitated by many ships and cruise lines.” – Lee C.
5. Cruise Line
8.5% of respondents said that the cruise line was the most important factor. With some cruisers choosing to sail with only one cruise line and being rewarded for their loyalty with some status perks, it made sense to them to not branch out to other lines.
For others, it was a matter of avoiding certain cruise lines even if the price was more appealing.
“Cruise line. We have perks. Then destination.” – Paul R.
“When you choose Celebrity all the factors are covered.” – Peggy T.
“Cruiseline first and then length of cruise… nothing under 7 days…. then price. Destination doesn’t matter since I don’t get off the ship. Just R&R.” – Laurie H.
While some cruise lines have better reward programs than others, familiarity with a cruise line and knowing what to expect when on board played a major role in the cruise line being a contributing factor.
6. Dates and Schedule
For some cruisers with rigid work schedules the dates of a cruise were the largest factor. 7.7% of replies indicated the dates of the cruise being the most important thing to look for.
“For us it’s the dates. With our occupation we have to be careful around the time we are gone.” – Tracy D.
“Date (I’m a teacher and still work full- time)” – Sheri R.
Some respondents also mentioned the seasonality of cruising and trying to avoid hurricane season or other weather events that may be more prevalent during certain times of the year.
7. Departure Port
Living close to a cruise port makes it a lot more convenient when going on a cruise. 7.5% of replies stated that their search for a cruise began with the port of embarkation.
A short drive to a cruise port saves money on flights and makes the value of a cruise vacation even more attractive.
Well over 2 million Florida residents cruise out of their home state every year, according to a CLIA report from a few years ago. The ease of driving to a local cruise port is a significant factor in deciding which cruise to book.
For those who saw the duration of a cruise as the most important factor, it was the longer cruises that were preferred. Over 3% of respondents looked for cruises that were at least 10 days long and some preferred back-to-back cruises to extend their vacations even more.
“Duration. We like long cruises. Usually do back to back.” – Catherine R.
“Destination and duration of the cruise. I won’t do a cruise that is less than 10 days.” – Johann V.
Some longer cruises will also allow longer times in port which was mentioned several times by readers who disdained the shorter time frames for some ports of call.
9. No Kids
Some travelers preferred a cruise with more peace and quiet and where no children could be seen or heard running around the ship.
Adult-only cruise lines have picked up traction lately as more cruisers want to get away from the theme-park style cruise ships that are notorious for providing more of a playground atmosphere.
I should note that even family-friendly cruise lines have kid-free spaces for quiet getaways. But some respondents preferred not having to deal with children on the ship at all.
“Absolutely NO KIDS!! I taught school for 20 years and I want to be without kids!!!” – Dewana J.
Whether it’s the quality of food on the ship or the type of food that is served, cuisine played at least a small role in the decision-making process for cruise travelers.
And while food is typically exceptional across many cruise lines, some respondents said that food itself was a driving force in determining which cruise to take.
We recently asked our readers which cruise ship restaurant was their favorite, and we listed the top 15 results which were very interesting.
A few other factors mentioned
There were several other factors that readers brought up. And while they didn’t receive as many mentions they were definitely noteworthy.
To follow up on the last point some mentioned that a kid-friendly cruise line was more important to them. This emphasizes a point that not all cruise lines and cruise ships are the same, and that there is a cruise for just about any type of traveler.
Some of the other factors included:
- Cabin availability
- Included amenities
- Non-smoking cruise
- Time in port
- Dietary considerations
What do you look for when searching for a cruise to book? Do you have the same priorities that are in this above list?
Let us know in the comments below.
Read more: Cruising on a budget: 12 money-saving tips