Planning a cruise is almost as fun as going on the actual trip. In the months leading up to your vacation, you get to research all the different destinations you’d like to visit, look at different stateroom options, and even start booking the onshore excursions you’ll experience.

Even if you’re a first-time cruiser and don’t know where to begin, planning a cruise is pretty easy. Discover how to plan a cruise with this step-by-step guide.

Choose a Destination

Couple walking up the stairs in Mediterranean

Split, Croatia

The first thing you should do when figuring out how to plan a cruise is to choose the type of destination you’d like to visit.

Do you prefer lounging on the tropical beaches of the Caribbean or strolling through the cobblestoned towns of the Mediterranean? Are you looking for outdoor adventures in the rugged terrain of Alaska or do you prefer navigating the bustling cities of Southeast Asia?

The great part about cruising is that there are destinations for every kind of vacation experience. Not only that, but you can visit multiple destinations all in one trip.

Pick Your Departure Port

Beautiful white sand beach of Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Once you’ve chosen the destination you want to cruise to, you’ll now choose your departure port. If you want to sail from a specific port (maybe one that is closer to home or more affordable to fly into), find out what departure ports are available for the destination you chose.

Decide On Your Itinerary

how to plan a cruise - choose an itinerary

Denali, Alaska

Once the destination and departure port is set, you can start planning your cruise itinerary. First, decide on the length of your trip. Celebrity Cruises offers a variety of itineraries, from 3-day cruises to the Bahamas to transatlantic and transpacific crossing that can last up to 19 nights.

When it comes to choosing an itinerary, you’ll also want to figure out what is most important to you during your cruise. Are cruises with overnight stays appealing? Do you prefer fewer or more days at sea? Are you looking to go on a round-trip journey?

Once you figure out the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and choose the itinerary that works best for you.

Choose Your Stateroom

With the destination and itinerary chosen, now it’s time to make one more big decision: what kind of stateroom you’ll want to stay in. On Celebrity Cruises, you’ll find a variety of staterooms to suit every kind of traveler’s needs and wants.

Oceanview Stateroom on Celebrity

Oceanview Stateroom

If you’re looking for savings, you might want to book one of our well-appointed interior staterooms. If you prefer to have a little bit of natural sunlight in the morning, then an oceanview stateroom may be the way to go.

If you book a veranda stateroom, you’ll have your own private outdoor space to watch the ocean go by. You’ll often hear from seasoned cruisers that once you stay in a veranda, it’s hard not to cruise with your own private balcony again.

For the ultimate modern luxury experience, book The Retreat, Celebrity Cruises’ new vacation experience, which offers cruisers stunning suite accommodations, private restaurants and lounge areas, and exclusive services and amenities such as a personal butler.

Read post: How to Choose the Best Stateroom on Your Cruise

Book Your Airfare

Airplane in the sky

If you don’t live within driving distance of your departure port, you’ll need to book flights, too.

With Flights by Celebrity, you can book your cruise and airfare all in the same place. We’ll make sure to find a competitive price for your airfare thanks to Flights by Celebrity’s Lowest Airfare Guarantee.

You can also browse flights by any specific airline you prefer to fly on and accrue loyalty points on your preferred mileage rewards program.

Flights by Celebrity has a team of dedicated specialists available 24 hours a day to get you to your cruise ship on time in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

Book Your Shore Excursions

Now that all of your travel reservations have been handled, it’s time for the extra fun part: choosing your shore excursions.

Family hanging out on a boat

Caribbean

From lazy days at beach resorts to adventurous hikes and active watersports, there’s no shortage of fun activities to sign up for during your cruise vacation.

Look up your cruise itinerary online and start researching all of the exciting shore excursions available at each port. You can look for specific family-friendly activities, cultural outings, sporty excursions, and all-encompassing destination tours.

Once you’ve picked the shore excursions you like, reserve your spot. Popular excursions, like whale-watching tours in Alaska and gondola rides in Venice, can fill up quickly and may be sold out by the time you board the ship.

Book Specialty Restaurant Reservations

Couple ordering at a restaurant

Tuscan Grille

Aside from booking your shore excursions early, you can also reserve dinner at any of our specialty restaurants before your cruise. From fresh seafood at Raw on 5 to the awe-inspiring dining experience at Le Petit Chef, specialty restaurants can fill up quickly, so it’s best to reserve your spot early.

Choose Your Beverage Package

If you plan on enjoying a glass of wine with lunch or sunset cocktails while on board, it’s worth looking into our beverage packages and deciding if one of them is right for you.

how to plan a cruise - choose a beverage package

Sunset Bar

If you’re planning on having at least one drink per day during dinner or by the pool, an alcoholic beverage package is a great way to save.

With the Classic Beverage Package, choose from a variety of spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks, and wines by the glass. With the Premium Beverage Package, you’ll have unlimited access to higher-end liquors and wine, plus a variety of craft beers.

For the non-drinkers, the premium non-alcoholic package offers unlimited bottled water, specialty coffees, and coconut water. There’s also a fun kids beverage package that includes smoothies, juices, and bottled water.

Work with a Travel Agent

Couple discussing itinerary with travel agent

If you want assistance in planning your cruise, contact your favorite travel agent or call one of our vacation specialists and leave the details in their hands. These travel experts can help you choose between destinations, ships, and itineraries so you’ll have the best vacation experience imaginable.

Start Planning Your Cruise Now!

Now that you know how to plan a cruise, are you ready to make your dream vacation a reality? Browse cruises online or contact your local travel agent and book your cruise, airfare, and excursions all in one place.

Free Vacation Planning Services

Free Vacation Planning Services