Ports of embarkation in the U.S.: In the past most cruises left from either New York, Florida or the West Coast. Now there are an increasing number of cruise lines that offer departures from New Orleans, Louisiana and Galveston, Texas. The popular Galveston port is now home to Carnival (year 'round) and Royal Caribbean (Fall through Spring) and beginning in late 2013 both Princess and Norwegian will be sailing from the new cruise terminal in Houston. This can help keep cost down if you are in driving distance of these two ports (and if you want to cruise the Caribbean). By the way, due to Galveston's popularity, these ships usually fill up long before their sail date.
Cruises in Europe: A cruise can be an especially easy way to see sights in the Mediterranean or Europe. You will have to book optional shore excursions in cities such as Rome or Florence, but the cost of the cruise is relatively inexpensive.
Traveling with children? If you are then some cruise lines might be better than others for children's activities. Although we do not necessarily endorse any cruise line, we can say that for children Disney Cruise Lines is probably the best--but also one of the most expensive. Royal Caribbean also has excellent children's programs and other cruise lines such as Norwegian Cruise Lines and Carnival offer children's programs as well.
Warning: Grandparents or parents traveling solo with children read this.
For adults traveling without children and/or those who have a little extra to spend you might want to look at some upscale lines such as Celebrity, Cunard, Princess. They cater less to those with children. But don't rule out Disney or Royal Caribbean especially once school is back in session. Don't forget, these ships sail year 'round. And just because we have not mentioned a specific cruise line here does not mean that they don't do an outstanding job.
Some cruise lines such as Oceania Cruises, Silversea, Seabourn and Regent cater to those 55+ and do not have any children's activities on board. In this case they are more about the itinerary (very few days at sea) and the ports they visit and less about the ship itself. Just no lavish entertainment and few late-night activities. And many of these ships are much smaller, meaning they can dock at more ports and offer a more intimate experience. And some of them are all-inclusive as well.
Want a single cabin? Up until recently you had to pay almost the cost of a double cabin even if you were traveling alone. Naturally the cruise lines considered these as wasted space since not only could they not charge for the additional person but they also lost any revenue that passenger might have created on board. Rates for singles typically ran (and still do) from 140% to 200% of the double cabin price. There were no small single cabins on most ships. This is changing, however, and some cruise lines now have some single cabins in their newer ships. Not quite half the price, but considerably less than paying for two people.
NCL with it's new "Epic" seems to be taking the lead in single cabins (over 100 of them) as well as the P&O "Azura" that has about 18 single cabins. And some of the lines don't charge quite so much for singles even if you are in a double cabin so be sure to check around.
When to book: For the best bargains and best cabins we recommend that you book early. Although there are occasionally last-minute deals, they are becoming less frequent, especially on the more popular cruises. And, you are often limited in cabin selections.
For cruise line reviews or to give others your advice check out our forum.