Luxury Cruises from California: 5 Things to Consider
Sunny Southern California and all of its coasts, ports, islands, and proximity to Mexico make it a fantastic place to take a luxury cruise from. Cruises these days can come in all varieties, so it is important to ask yourself what type you are looking for before booking your cruise. Read on for a checklist and explanation of some important factors to consider when you are contemplating your next luxury cruise.
Where Do You Want to Go?
There are a multitude of destinations you can get to from southern California, which range from Mexico to Alaska, to everything in between. Every destination has luxury cruise options, although some ships and certain cruise lines might be directed toward a broader audience, which means there will be different levels of accommodation available for passengers ranging from budget to luxury. When booking a cruise reservation, make sure you know not just whether the ship is a luxury ship, but that luxury accommodations are available at the destination ports as well. Most cruise lines provide packages that provide shore excursions, but make sure to check that they suit your tastes and needs.
Which Cruise Lines are Considered Luxury?
While virtually every cruise line offers luxury options such as state rooms with Jacuzzis and balconies, and expensive shore excursions, some cruise lines are designated as luxury cruise lines, and provide smaller ships with a more relaxed and intimate experience.
Companies such as Princess and Royal Caribbean can offer a lot for the luxury-minded passenger who wants to experience a big ship, meet lots of people, and have many dining options to choose from – but keep in mind that although luxury options are available to those who want them, the cruise as a whole is not strictly geared toward high luxury. On Princess and Royal Caribbean, rooms can range from $80 to $500 per night, and go from basic amenities like a bathroom and beds, to penthouse suites with balconies, hot tubs, wet bars, and steam showers.
Companies that offer smaller luxury-only ships include Windstar an Silver Sea, which both have smaller ships and more formal dress codes. Trips on these cruise lines generally range from $250 to $500 per night. Although they feature fewer choices in food and entertainment, everything is geared toward high luxury and service is much more personalized do to the smaller ship size and the ability to focus everything toward the luxury-minded demographic.
Is it a Family Vacation?
If it is a family vacation, you need to think about both the ship and the destinations. Smaller, more formal ships are geared much more toward adults, and may not have many activities for children – for example, both WIndstar and Silver Sea cruises have no organized activities for children. There will also be fewer children for your kids to interact with, which could result in them getting bored – but this could be a good option if you just want to spend some quality time with your family, as it tends to get hard to keep track of everyone on a larger ship where your kids might be running around doing activities all day. Also check the itinerary of your cruise – if there are several “sea days”, which are days when the ship is purely travelling at sea with no port stops, make sure there is a good kids program that will keep the kids occupied. While you might enjoy spa treatments and staring out to sea with the breeze in your hair and a cocktail in hand, your kids might not feel the same way. On the other hand, if you are looking for a brief escape from the hustle and bustle of kids and families, luxury cruise lines such as Windstar and SIlver Sea are the perfect choice for you.
How Long of a Cruise Should You Book?
This all depends on what you are looking to get out of your vacation time, and how long you actually have. There are a variety of cruise lengths, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. If your cruise is only a few days long, it is probably going to only make one stop, and you probably won’t be travelling far. Always check the itinerary carefully – many of the short cruises leaving from southern California will only make one stop in Baja California, which may not be enough for you if you were looking for an exotic escape. Also consider if you can handle one of the longer cruises – if you are prone to get restless, think carefully before booking a 3 week cruise. A good length for starters is 5-10 days, as you get the bonus of feeling rested and pampered by the crew and environment, without the potential of getting restless or claustrophobic.
Do You Want to Travel on a Big or Small Ship?
There are many differences between big and small ships. If you are travelling over deep, rough seas, big ships will be substantially more stable than smaller ones, so if you are prone to sea sickness consider this carefully and read reviews online before booking. The smaller luxury ships will also provide a more intimate, less hectic experience than the big ones. Service will feel more personal and you will never feel overcrowded. The benefit of big ships is that there will be a much larger variety of dining options, as some of the newest and largest ships will have over 10 different restaurants serving different cuisines, ranging from Italian to steakhouses to teppanyaki and everything in between. Big ships are also good if you wish to mingle with a wide variety of people. Kids are also guaranteed to meet lots of others in their peer group, as the sheer number of passengers means there will be people of all ages.