When you are investing in a trip on the water, you really want to know you are booking a trip you’ll love. But how do you do that, especially if you have never cruised before? It really depends on the traveler, but we have some good guidelines for you when planning a cruise.

How do I choose a cruise line?

Amenities: When you’re on vacation, what do you like to do? Drink at every bar available? Sunbathe by the pool? Experience the luxury spa package? Jet down water slides like a 13-year-old kid? Whatever your thrill – you’ll be able to find a cruise ship that meets your needs. When looking at which ship you want to cruise, look at the list of amenities to make sure you aren’t going to be bored during the sea days. No one likes to be bored on vacation.

Ship Size: Whether you are concerned with the number of travelers on the ship or the height of the ship if you walk near the railing, the size of the cruise ship can make a difference when you’re booking. Some ships tower over the ocean surface between 200 and 250 feet; others can be only half that. If you are afraid of heights, maybe a river cruise is more your speed.

Cruise with Kids: If you’re taking a family vacation, you’ll probably be looking for a very different kind of ship than a couple traveling sans children. Don’t worry! If you want a kids-free vacation, there are adults-only cruise itineraries to choose.

General Sailing Location: Cruises literally touch every corner of the globe. If you aren’t someone who likes the heat and sun of the Caribbean, why not try a river cruise in Europe or a relaxing trip through Alaska? The general location can also be decided by the type of ocean. A Caribbean cruise is typically smoother sailing than, say, a transcontinental trip to London – but that often depends on the time of year too. Once you pick your general location in the world, you can look at the specific itineraries available for these areas.

Which itinerary is best?

Original Port: Many travelers choose their cruise itinerary based on the place of original port. This is the place where the cruise launches from and, typically, docks at when it’s finished. Choosing an original port for a Caribbean cruise, for instance, may depend on the region in which you live or the budget you have for the trip. For a specialized cruise, such as a river cruise, Alaskan cruise or an artic cruise, the port of call may not be as important for the traveler.

Ports of Call: Each stop along the way can be very important for some travelers. Many choose the cruise, not based on the amenities or length of the trip but simply based on the ports of call. They vary for each cruise by the number, time in between each one and time spent at each. The ports of call for a cruise can determine your excursions and experiences – some think that makes the trip.

How Many Days: Cruises can last anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks (or more!) The length of cruise you choose should depend on three things: the strength of your sea legs, the amount of vacation time you can take off and the limit of your budget. We are certain that you can find a cruise that fits within all three of these requirements (no matter what they are), as long as you’re willing to possibly sacrifice other things like the itinerary options, amenities and size of ship.

Which cruise cabin do I book?

The size of your budget: The main factor on your cabin choice will most likely be your budget: the larger your budget, the larger your room. Not many cruise ships, if any, have the same cabin size. Most have varying rooms to choose from like inner ship cabins without any windows or multi-room staterooms with balconies.

Level of claustrophobia: If you are looking to save a little money and you aren’t at all claustrophobic, an inner room is probably a good option for you. You get all the benefits of the cruise, without the high ticket price. Really how much time are you going to spend in your room anyway? If the answer to that question is “a lot”, then we’d recommend steering away from an inner room and trying to get a room with a porthole, balcony or multi-rooms.

Occupants of the room: Sharing your room with multiple family members? Either look into the price for two rooms or entertain the idea of a multi-room suite. The last thing you want to do is crawl over your teenage daughter’s pull-out bed covered in the five dinner dresses on which she can’t decide. Also a benefit of some larger rooms: multiple bathrooms.