Ship Or Itinerary: What’s More Important?

Imagine the scene: You’re looking through the cruise brochure (yeah yeah, we know that sounds so last century) or surfing the net for the best deal and you see that perfect itinerary. It’s going to all the destinations you’ve always wanted to sail. It’s the right length of time and its great timing for the school holidays. Perfect! That’s the summer holidays all sorted for another year….but….hold on a second! You look at the details of the ship and you scream in disbelief that it’s an adults exclusive ship. That’s no good for you and your brood of 5 kids and partner. Drat, back to the drawing board yet again. It maybe a case of a two week holiday in Bognor Regis at this rate. (We don’t hold anything against Bognor Regis, just to make that point clear, it’s just for the use of hypothesis)

Choosing a family cruise and the itinerary is good but only to find out the ship is Oriana and it’s a an adults exclusive ship. Image: Cruisemarsh.

That situation can be so frustrating. Just when you thought you had the perfect cruise holiday and whoosh, gone in an instant as soon as you read it’s going on a ship that doesn’t cater for families and children.

However, without the need to go and cower in a corner and break down in tears at the thought of not going on the summer holiday cruise, there are other options out there and there will be a cruise that will surely suit the needs of yourself and if you have a family, them too.

Cruising is flexible and adaptable, so don’t despair. There are other cruise lines out there with alternative itineraries and on ships that are more suitable. Whilst you may have to compromise on certain ports of call, that may be of insignifcance if you manage to get on a ship that is suitable.

There is the case to be made for the first time cruiser too. They are interested in taking a cruise but aren’t too sure. They think being cooped up in a ‘big shiny metal transportation box’ may not be the ideal choice of a holiday but they’ve been persuaded to take one by their better half or a friend. So, they are looking for a cruise that is port intensive and hardly any time at sea. Now, this is the excellent opportunity for those who want to travel and visit destinations they’ve always dreamt about. It’s going to be various ports too, so they will be waking up in new countries each day. If they can visit places that they wouldn’t normally be able to, then the idea of being on a cruise ship might just not be so bad after all. After all, they’ve got that port of call, say Barcelona for talking sake, to look forward.

Then there’s the cruise ship anorak. A bit like us really. They aren’t so much fussed with the destinations, it’s the ship that takes their focus of attention. Yeah, it’ll be nice to go to the Med for a fortnight and all the lovely weather blah blah blah, but the main thing is what’s all on board the ship. How big are the cabins, can I eat 24 hours straight and how many knots will the ship be able to do whilst at sea. It’s all about the technical side of things too. The cameras come out and the whole ship is photographed and documented in 20 minutes since having their first buffet lunch on board the ship after embarkation. They are contented to stay on board the ship when in ports so they can enjoy having the ship to themselves and being able to swim in the pool without having to fight your way through to get to the other side.. It’s not just the cruise ship anoraks that see the ship as the destination, there are those who want to relax, chill and be pampered. Be waited to on hand and foot and enjoy lazing around the ship without having to worry about the stresses of daily life. Sounds like heaven on earth. Either that or they want to try out the latest rockclimbing wall, the latest dining inovation or watching movies on deck on the giant screen at night. The activies and facilities could have a big bearing on their decision to choose that ship and cruise.

Queen Mary 2 would be a ships anorak’s dream. Image: Cruisemarsh

There are those who like to compromise. The ones that feel that the itineraries and the ship compliment on another. This can be quite sensible too when choosing your cruise. For instance, if you wanted to take a once in a lifetime cruise to the Antarctic, you wouldn’t want to take one on  a mega sized ship with thousands of other passengers. The smaller the ship and the lesser the amount of passengers on board would be perfect, in order to enjoy the experience without thousands of others there to dampen the atmopshere.  It’s about balancing it out. It’s the same when it comes to family cruising too. Getting the right itinerary and the right ship is important, especially if you have kids. They’ll want all the mod cons of the consoles, swimming pools and places to go and get plenty of ice cream from whem mum and dad aren’t looking. Generally therefore, larger ships are perfect for families and the itineraries catering for families tie in with school holidays and to places where everyone is going to enjoy going ashore. Plenty of things for the kids to do, plenty of history for the grandparents to enjoy and plenty of shopping, bars and eatieries for the parents to enjoy. Sounds like the perfect balance for any family and a cruise holiday is one of the safest types of holidays that a family can take, with parents knowing their kids are safe in the on board kids clubs and so can enjoy some downtime of their own, lounging by the pool with a nice cocktail in hand.


Sometimes the lure of visiting a particular place on an itinerary can be greater than that of the choice of ship, Image: Cruisemarsh.

Sometimes it’s a case that they may not like the ship that is advertised for a cruise but the itinerary is so unique that it’s almost considered a once in a life time opportunity to do it and therefore it’s a case of gritting teeth, keeping calm and cruising on. Our editor, Anthony and his late grandfather did just that in October 2002 when they went on the former Regal Princess on a Pacific Cruise from Hawaii to Japan calling into some of the out of the way destinations such as Midway Island, Saipan, Guam and the Marshall Islands. It was a cruise to track the history of the Second World War in the Pacific, so was of interest to Anthony and his grandfather. However, the ship lacked facilities compared her size of 70,000grt. They both agreed that it should have been on a different ship but they saw the cruise through due to it’s unique itinerary and still had a great time.


Sometimes the ship and itinerary combine perfectly. As in the case with the small size of Adonia and cruising up the Amazon. Image: Cruisemarsh.


So is there an outright winner in terms of itineraries and ships? Well, whilst both have their merits and disadvantages, there isn’t an outright winner in our opinion. Both the itinerary and the ship work together and without either, there wouldn’t be a cruise. Yes, we may favour destinations over ships and ships over destinations but take either out of the equation and there is no cruise. It would be boring. Nobody would want to go on endless cruises without ports of calls (this excluding transatlantic crossings) So in our opinon there is no winner, and there is no right or wrong. It’s also upto the individual too and their needs and expectations. Nobody can judge others on that and if you are happy to go on a cruise just for the ship or for the itineraries, then enjoy it to the max. Everyone is different and each has their own tastes and that’s what makes this industry so versatile and flexible.

Now, it’s back to the cruise brochures….. now would I like this cruise because of the ship or is this itinerary more inviting than the actual ship? Mmmm…. decisions decisions….

Happy cruising everyone!



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