When it comes to cruising the experience can be quite different. Especially to what you may have experienced before in other holidays. For one you are going to be on a ship for most of the time, floating on the water. For some people, this is far from ideal, while others enjoy the experience of their first cruise.
So when choosing your very first cruise to try out the experience, there is one big choice to make, how long? The first time that I cruised, I booked a 28 day cruise from San Diego, through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale, and returning to San Diego. Booking a cruise of this length for your very first time on a cruise ship can be quite a risk not knowing how you will handle the experience. I would not recommend this; it is just lucky I enjoyed the experience.
There are however many other options to test out your sea legs and find out if a cruising holiday is going to be right for you. Or if maybe sticking to the more land-based holidays might be more your style.
1-3 Night Cruise
Depending on the area that you live in there may be some times per year when different cruise companies will offer these short cruises. Maybe the schedule had a short gap in, or they need to move a ship a short distance, and rather than tacking it onto the beginning or end of a specific destination cruise, they create a small 1-3 day cruise.
These cruises can be a great option to get a taste of what it is like to stay on a ship, to sample the food, the entertainment, and general shipboard life. However often these cruises don’t include any port calls.
4-7 Night Cruise
Much more common you will find 4-7 night cruises in many area’s where cruise ships depart. These are often a relatively standard length along with 8-14 night.
With the little bit more time you will almost always get to see 2 or 3 ports and get to enjoy the luxurious of being on board a cruise ship, while often getting to visit some places you may not otherwise choose to go.
8-14 Night Cruise
Like 4-7 night cruise, you will find many that fit this 8-14 nights. They often fit well with many people taking annual leave around the two-week mark and make for a great option if you want just to unpack and enjoy the whole experience.
With a longer cruise, you can also expect to experience more ports. Depending on the are you are cruising there may be some rather different ports, such as cruises around Europe and Asia. But in other area’s the ports may be different but quite similar, such as cruising New Zealand or the Caribbean.
An excellent example of this was my first cruise, which travelled through the Panama Canel both East and West. The cruise was two 14 night cruises back to back and provided an excellent diversity of ports, which included stops in Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and Columbia in one direction. While the other direction swapped out Columbia for Aruba.
15+ Night Cruise
A vast majority of cruises fit into that 4-14 day timespan, to accommodate a large portion of the market that may only be about to fit in a cruise in this time.
However, for those with the time, there are some great options for longer cruises. Including relocation cruises crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic ocean with varying lengths between 23 and 27 days. Also available are numerous choices in the 30-60 day time frame circling the Pacific, circumnavigating Australia or South America, and longer cruising around the Mediterranean.
Many world cruises are just what they sound like a cruise that sails all the way around the world. Many of these cruises will start at 90 days and can go for upwards of 115 days. If you are fond of cruising and like the idea of seeing a very diverse range of ports, without the need to constantly pack and unpack, this may be the options for you.
Although nothing is stopping you by any means, I would advise against making a world cruise your first cruise. I would recommend trying your sea legs on a short cruise before a world cruise just to ensure that cruising is for you. The last thing you want is to book a long 100+ day cruise and be miserable the whole time because you don’t like being on a ship.
My First Cruise
When I first decided to make a cruise part of my holiday it was more an accident than planned. I had booked flights to be in America for 8 weeks and the idea of a cruise just popped up. Soon enough I was booking a 28-day cruise, leaving from San Diego and transiting the Panama Canal Twice.
Although for many people boarding a ship for 28-days is quite daunting, I was happy to approach it with an open mind. As it turns out I do not think that there is a better way that I could have spent the four weeks on board. I got the chance to visit six different countries and see places I doubt I would have visited otherwise. You can read more about this cruise here “28 Day Panama Canal Cruise Summary”
So What Is Best For You
Of course, choosing which options is the best for you is something that only you can answer. However, I can give you a path to answering that question.
If you have never cruised before, and you are hesitant as to whether cruising is for you, I would start at the beginning. Find a 1-3 night cruise and just book it, and see how you feel being on a ship on the ocean. Get a feel for space on a ship, the food, the entertainment and most important if you are likely to be seasick or not.
If you enjoy being out on the water, but have not been on a larger cruise ship before, consider booking a 7-10 day cruise to get a feeling for the experience. By the end of a cruise of this length, you will know if you enjoy cruising enough to take a longer cruise or if you may like just to stick to these short cruises or maybe you will discover that cruising is not for you.
Taking a short cruise, in the beginning, is no great loss either way. If you enjoy the cruise experience, go ahead and book another cruise, you likely had fun, even if it was a short cruise. On the other hand, if you do not enjoy the cruise experience at least you only tested it out for a few days, and you can look at other alternatives in the future.
Let Me Know About Your First Cruise
How did you get started cruising? Were you like me jumping in the deep end and taking a 28-day cruise for my first experience, or maybe you took my advice above and tried a shorter cruise to test the waters. I would love to hear your experience in the comments below. You can connect with me on social media, pick your favourite social network below.