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What to know before booking a cruise 

Dreaming of going on a cruise but not sure where to start? With so many options and itineraries available, it can be overwhelming to plan, especially if it’s your first cruise.  

That’s why we’ve compiled answers to the top things to consider before you book your next getaway on the high seas. Our travel experts share their top tips on what you need to know before booking a cruise.  

What are some of the best destinations for a cruise vacation?


Oceania Cruises
Oceania Cruises

Europe is a fantastic pick for a cruise vacation. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or stunning natural beauty, a European cruise offers something for everyone.  

But what sets a cruise in Europe apart from other travel options? For starters, visiting multiple countries in one trip is a huge draw. Instead of going to one location, you can explore multiple cities without the hassle and additional fee of flights between each European destination. Plus, you can enjoy the convenience of unpacking only once as your floating accommodation brings you to each exciting spot.   

One popular way to explore Europe by cruise is through river cruises. These smaller ships can take you inland and explore incredible rivers like the Romantic Rhine, where you can see picturesque villages, medieval castles, and breathtaking scenery. Another perk of river cruises is that all your meals, entertainment, and excursions are included in the price.  

For those looking for a more traditional ocean cruise experience, plenty of options will take you to different ports in the Mediterranean or Northern Europe, such as Norway, Sweden and Iceland.   


Royal Caribbean

All-inclusive vacations are popular with Canadians. But the next time you crave a beach getaway, consider a Caribbean cruise. Not only will you get the sun and relaxation you want, but you’ll also get to explore different countries and some countries you may never think of visiting – and will love. On a Caribbean cruise, you can look forward to seeing multiple extraordinary beaches, so there is always something new to discover.   

Some cruise lines even have their own private island they visit, which is a slice of paradise. For example, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Holland American Line have itinerates to private islands.   


Whale fluke splashing in Glacier Bay Alaska
StefaniePayne | iStock

If seeing spectacular landscapes like giant glaciers and abundant marine wildlife sounds like your ideal vacation, you should add an Alaskan cruise to your travel plans. Alaska is a popular destination with CAA Members and with good reason.  

The scenery and wildlife along the Inside Passage are incredible, and some cruise lines like Holland America will even take you into Glacier Bay National Park, full of alpine lakes, glaciers, and frosty mountain peaks. There, you might spot sea otters, sea lions and Humpback whales.    

When is the best time to cruise to those top destinations?


Cochem, Rhineland - Landmarks of Germany, medieval town on Mosel
emicristea | iStock

While the summer is a popular time to cruise to Europe, the fall season is ideal as the weather is milder and there are fewer crowds.

However, if you’re looking for a unique and specialized experience, planning your cruise around specific events such as the European Christmas markets, tulip time, or Oktoberfest could add even more excitement to your trip. With so many options, the best time to cruise to Europe ultimately depends on your preferences and travel goals. 


St Lucia Caribbean
fokkebok | iStock

With warm temperatures all year long and clear turquoise water, it’s no surprise that the Caribbean is an ideal choice for a cruise. December through April is the prime cruising season, when you’ll want to book your trip to avoid bad weather. You’ll want to avoid storms and severe weather from June to November, particularly peak hurricane season from August to September. 


Cruise Ship Sailing Through Glacier Bay National Park
urbanglimpses | iStock

Alaska’s cruise season runs from May to September. The summer months are the most popular, with warmer temperatures. It’s a great time to explore the breathtaking scenery, from glaciers to fjords and everything in between. 

However, consider booking a cruise in September to witness humpback whales breaching and feeding in the wild. And if you’re lucky, you may glimpse the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky. So, whether you prefer warmer weather or whale-watching, there’s a perfect time for everyone to cruise to Alaska.

How many days is a good length for a cruise vacation? 

Holland America
Holland America

How long of a cruise you should pick depends on several factors, including your budget, the destinations you want to visit, and the type of traveller you are. For a Caribbean cruise, consider booking a five to seven-day trip. If you have more vacation time available, you can always opt for a longer cruise or add on pre or post-tours.

But if you’re celebrating something special, like retirement, you might be interested in a grand voyage or world cruise. Several cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Holland America Line, offer these epic journeys. They can range from 30 to over 100 days and allow you to explore multiple continents while enjoying all the amenities of a luxury cruise ship. 

Does CAA Travel have any tips for first-time cruisers before going on an ocean cruise?

Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises

You’ll want to book at least one night at your destination before boarding the ship. The last thing you want to worry about is missing your cruise’s boarding time because of a flight delay. To also protect in the case of flight delay or lost baggage travel insurance is a good idea, and you’re a CAA Member you can save up to 20% on coverage. 

Before your trip, make sure to download the cruise app. The app will provide helpful information like deck plans, restaurant menus, onboard shows, activities, and excursions. In the weeks leading up to the departure, pre-book shows, excursions or specialty dining that you wish to do, as time slots can quickly fill up. You can also use CAA Travel’s partner Shore Excursions Group, who offer small-group tours and activities at 300 ports worldwide. But keep in mind while there will be no shortage of things to see and do, it’s important not to cram your schedule too tightly, as you’ll want to leave time to unwind and explore the ship. 

Most importantly, booking with an expert is highly recommended. They can provide valuable insights into the type of cruise that would be best for you and can ensure you get the best price. Book an appointment online with a CAA Travel Consultant to start planning your cruise. 

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