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Step-by-step guide to find your perfect cruise

This is a simple step-by-step guide to help you better understand the industry and to find a cruise that is perfect for you. And equally importantly, give you insights into which ones you should avoid.

This guide will be continually updated. You can jump ahead at any time and this menu will be repeated at the bottom of each post.

  • Cruiselines: Royal Caribbean - Celebrity - Azamara

  • Cruiselines: Carnival - P&O - Costa - Princess - Cunard - Seabourn - Holland Am

  • Cruiselines: NCL Corp - Regent - Oceania

  • Crusielines: Ponant, Windstar, Paul Gauguin - MSC - Disney

  • Cruiselines: Stars - Cabins - Budgets

  • Cruise seasons - where, and when not to cruise

  • The cheapest cruise may not be the best value

  • Drink Packages

  • Sea sickness

  • Gratuities

  • Best ever cruise tip

  • Packing


Step one. Understanding the different brands.

Have a guess ...

How many cruise lines are there?

How many cruise ships?

How many people cruise each year?

How many people work on ships?

How much is the cruise industry worth each year?

Globally and in Australia?

What about how many deep-sea cruise ports are there?

Cruising is the largest growth industry in the world ...

It transpires that there are more than 50 major cruise lines and 323 cruise ships operating in the world today – that is 23 fewer than 2019.

Back then in 2019 there were 29.7 million cruise passengers.

The industry employs 1.8 million people around the world and generated $154 billion globally and $5.2 billion within Australia.

There are 2,219 cruise ports. 587 of these are river ports and 1,632 are ocean ports.

Let's get down to it.

To find the right cruise for you, first, you need to understand the way the industry is structured and how each of the lines targets a specific segment of the market. This is the first step to making sense of the bewildering range of ships and voyages on offer and it will greatly reduce the cruises you should start to shortlist

The big three

There are three main corporations that own/manage the most well-known and largest cruise lines. These corporations have created brands that target different segments of the market, from budget no frills operations, to those that appeal to the middle of the market, right up to boutique six-star lines and those that operate in the exclusive and expensive expedition space.

This is where it gets confusing as the two biggest corporate players, Carnival and Royal Caribbean not only operate over a dozen separate lines between them, but they also operate as stand-alone brands under their corporate namesake.

Here is a list of the main operators and lines

Carnival Corporation

Carnival Cruise Line

Costa Cruises

Princess Cruises

AIDA Cruises

Holland America Line

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises Australia

Cunard Line

Seabourn Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean Group

Royal Caribbean International

Celebrity Cruises

Silversea Cruises


Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings

Norwegian Cruise Line

Oceania Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises



Paula Gaugain

TUI Cruises

TUI Cruises

Marella Cruises


Independent or stand-alone cruise lines

MSC Cruises

Disney Cruise Line

Viking Cruises


Virgin Voyages

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Celestyal Cruises

Paradise Cruise Line

Phoenix Reisen

Saga Cruises

Windstar Cruises

Lindblad Expeditions

Quark Expeditions

American Cruise Lines

Star Clippers

Voyages to Antiquity

SeaDream Yacht Club

Blount Small Ship Adventures

Hebridean Island Cruises

Grand Circle Cruise Line

Mistake number one.

As I said above, it really is a bewildering choice. That is if you go in blind, as most people do who are new to cruising do.

Many will simply look for ALL cruise lines operating from a specific port between a certain date window and often times the price is the first thing they look at when shortlisting.

Before you start looking at ports or dates or prices or itineraries or indeed anything, you need to fully understand:

What is it you want from a cruise

What you don't want

The specific segment and demographic each cruise line targets

Which line can best provide what you want

And conversely which line is more likely to give you what you don't want

Get this right and your search will not only be much quicker, but it will also ensure you don't end up on the wrong ship.

Mistake number 2

People often say to me, it's my first cruise, it's really cheap and how bad can it be. I'll just do a short quick one to see if I like it.

If you take anything away from this, know this. Your first cruise is the most important you will ever do.

Mistake number 3

Far too often people go in blind and book a cruise that their partner is either open-minded or skeptical about and they book a short cheap cruise, just in case they don't like it.

Invariably what happens is that they have a horrible time and their partner will get off the ship and say, never again. And if that happens your cruising days are over. End of story.

Don't be that person.

I'm not saying you have to spend a lot of money on your first cruise. You just that you have to find the right one for you.

That's what I'll be sharing with you here in the coming days, my insights and recommendations about which cruise lines should be on your personal shortlist, and which ones shouldn't.

I'll break them all down as being preferred for different segments such as couples, families, retirees, singles, and honeymooners all broken down by budget and different age demographics.

If you read my next few blog posts, you will come away with the confidence to know exactly what you are looking for, but just as importantly how to find that perfect cruise at a price that is just right for you.

Captain James

Step by step guide to find your perfect cruise - Jump ahead ...

FAB Last Minute and Interline Cruises

2,534 views7 comments


Glen Purcell
Jan 09

thankyou very much that information is perfect for us to start looking for our first cruise


Oct 23, 2022

Thank you James! Some "babyboomers" (like myself..aged 63) know and love the quirkiness of the travel and cruise industry and some of the facts and figures! This information will be invaluable for the younger population.Think very carefully where you really want to go..find a cabin that makes you happy..front of the ship if you love the movement and midship to be not feeling as much your pennies just to enjoy the things that are still "special" to you and overall HAPPY CRUISING!

Captain James
Captain James
Nov 28, 2022
Replying to

Thanks so much, only just discovered people can leave comments here who knew? Thanks for taking the time!


Oct 23, 2022

Well, guess whose Mum's got a Whirlpool.

The red wine stains may be a problem on that uniform.

Great start James ,looking forward to your next edition.

Captain James
Captain James
Nov 28, 2022
Replying to



Oct 23, 2022

Bravo James, a great read & very thought provoking …… looking forward to each new ’publication’. I definitely intend on cruising in 2023!

Captain James
Captain James
Nov 28, 2022
Replying to

Thanks only just seen this - wasn't sure anyone would see these blog posts, but some have been viewed 300+ times, who knew, looking forward to Croatia.

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