5 Trips for First-Time Cruisers

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Never taken a cruise before? If you're considering your first cruise, don’t let yourself be intimidated by the planning process. It may feel overwhelming deciding on the best destination to go and what cruise line to book with. Just take a deep breath and delve into some online research. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve chosen five trips that are perfect for first-time cruisers.

Alaska

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The best way to explore Alaska’s natural wonders is on a cruise. Alaska is a big-time bucket-list destination for many people, which explains why Alaskan cruises attract so many first-time cruisers. With an Alaskan cruise, you can have as much adventure or relaxation as you want. If you’re after adrenaline-pumping activities, you might be able to book excursions such as dog-sledding, floatplane rides, and more. And if you prefer to kick back and relax, you'll be able to observe thrilling scenery from the deck of the ship/

Choose your ship based on the level of activity you want. Smaller ships visit ports that larger ones cannot reach and typically include more immersive tours than their larger counterparts. Because you pass incredible scenery throughout your trip, Alaskan cruises are great for those who prefer to stay onboard while at port. Look for cruise lines that cater to older travelers and you're likely to find a more extensive selection of less-strenuous excursions.

Eastern Caribbean

Coast of the island of St. Lucia with a boat with sails in the water
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An eastern Caribbean cruise is excellent for first-timers since you can almost have two vacations in one. Choose a cruise that departs from Puerto Rico and fly in a few days beforehand. Spend time exploring San Juan and neighboring towns before your cruise departs. If you don’t have the extra time, you can also find cruises that depart from Florida, New York, and New Orleans.

Many islands aren't that far apart, so you’ll have more days in port rather than at sea — perfect for those a little nervous about open water. No matter which itinerary you choose, you’ll have no shortage of award-winning beaches as well as beautiful towns and villages to visit. Some islands that are included on many eastern Caribbean cruise itineraries include Barbados, St. Lucia, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, and more.

Bahamas

Cruise ships sailing in Nassau, Bahamas with lighthouse on island
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The Bahamas is one of the most popular cruise destinations for both first-time cruise travelers as well as seasoned ones. Given the island chain’s proximity to Florida, you can opt for a short weekend cruise if you want to get your feet wet while you decide whether cruising is right for you. Almost every cruise line offers a Bahamas itinerary — giving you ample options that will work with your prospective dates and budget. Some of the most popular itineraries range from two to six nights. For a more exclusive experience, choose a cruise line that owns one of the private islands so you can kick back on the sand and enjoy some peace and quiet.

Western Caribbean / Riviera Maya

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Western Caribbean and/or Riviera Maya is another option that is perfect for first-time cruisers. There is a lot of overlap on these cruises most of the time, so you’ll want to narrow your choices down based on which ports of call you are most interested in visiting. Western Caribbean cruises can include ports like Cozumel in Mexico, Belize City or Placencia in Belize, Roatán in Honduras, and more. On Riviera Maya-only itineraries, you may visit spots in Mexico like Cozumel, Progreso, and Costa Maya.

You’ll find no shortage of things to do on a western Caribbean cruise — from zip-lining in Belize to exploring Mayan sites in Mexico. Western Caribbean cruises tend to be cheaper than other Caribbean destinations, which is another bonus for first-time cruisers who may be worried about spending a lot of money only to discover they are not a fan of cruise travel.

European River Cruise

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If even the smallest ocean cruise ships are too big for your taste, consider hopping over to Europe and embarking on a river cruise. These ships are like large luxury barges and offer more intimate and personalized service. You have more opportunities to meet other passengers and enjoy smaller, more tailored cruise excursions at each port. If you’re worried about rough waters and seasickness, choosing a small river cruise will assuage those fears.

Part of the draw with river cruises is the fact that they are slower paced, offer incredible scenery throughout, and stop in some of Europe’s most iconic cities. Some of the most popular European river cruises travel along the Rhine and Danube Rivers. Depending on the itinerary you choose, you might stop in destinations like Budapest, Amsterdam, Vienna, and plenty of German wine towns. Look for themed river cruises as well including German Christmas Markets, food and wine cruises, and more.

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