Put the notion of stuffy formal nights and boring itineraries to bed. Today, cruising as a vacation option is more popular than ever, and regardless of what you look for in your holiday away, there’s almost certainly a ship for you.
If you’ve fallen under the common misconception that there isn’t much to do when you’re on a cruise, or that having to dress up and dine with strangers won’t be any fun, you might want to consider this: one study found that millennials and Generation X Americans rated cruises as more exciting than land based travel or even all-inclusive resorts.
From the value cruises offer to the immediate sense of relaxation and nearly endless options for destinations and excursions, sailing on the high seas can be as exciting or tranquil and luxurious as you want it to be.
If you’ve got a destination in mind but aren’t exactly sure which of the many brands or ships might be right for you, Seahub‘s got you covered. By studying over 1.8 million Instagram posts tagged on various ships and ports around the world, we’ve built this guide to help you pick the perfect combo. We found the best cruise lines, which destinations are the most popular, what people seem to enjoy most while they’re away, and what seasons you should consider when planning your trip. Whether you’re passionate about food, drinks, or adventure, we’ll help you find a match made in cruise-heaven. Read on to see what we discovered.
Iconic Cruise Destinations
Perhaps unsurprisingly, destinations in the Caribbean earned the top spot as the most Instagrammed locations. Of course, the Caribbean as whole doesn’t refer to simply one location and can offer some of the most celebrated, diverse scenery anywhere in the world – and you might be able to hit more than a few of those locals on just one trip.
Want to see the perfectly picturesque Baths and enjoy British culture while you’re there? The British Virgin Islands could be your stop. Rather enjoy some of the most celebrated architecture, food, and culture anywhere in the world? Havana, Cuba might be the itinerary for you. Just a few of the stops you might find on a Caribbean cruise, these ports may be popular, but they’re anything but ordinary.
Next up on our list of cruise destinations according to Instagram mentions were the Bahamas and Nassau (over 85,000 tags) and Florida and Miami (over 74,000). With such close proximity to each other, it’s not uncommon for sailings out of Florida ports (including Ft. Lauderdale and Miami) to include stops in the Bahamas and Paradise Island. With top-notch amenities and the best in shopping and entertainment, traveling from Miami to the Bahamas might just be one of the best two-in-one vacation.
Other popular destinations for travelers looking to get outside the tropical-island “box” included Cozumel and Mexico (over 70,000 tags), Greece (63,000), and Australia (51,000).
There are a number of elements to consider if you want to know who the best time of year to take a cruise are. Where you’re going, what your own schedule will allow for, and even your vacation budget are a few of the details you may want to hammer out first before trying to land on the perfect sailing date.
If you’re looking to save a bit on your trip and don’t mind slightly less-than-perfect weather, the “shoulder season” might be the best time of year for you. If you’re trying to work around work and school schedules, the spring and summer months may offer your best options. For some more exotic locations (like Alaska or the Mediterranean) the best time of year to cruise could be all about the climate.
So when do most people find are the best months for cruising? According to our analysis of over 1.75 million Instagram posts, August was the most popular month for heading out on the high seas. On the tail end of traditional vacation “season”, you might not find the cheapest fares in August, but you’ll probably find picturesque conditions. Fellow summer months like May and July were also popular while January and February were among the least common times for cruise holiday postings.
The Best of the Best Cruise Lines
One of the most unique elements to cruise travel, like deciding when and where you want to go, is deciding which cruise line you want to take your adventure on. Depending on who you’re cruising with (kids, family, significant other) or which amenities stand out to you most, some cruise lines may come more highly recommended than others. And once you settle on one you think you like, there’s always loyalty programs and perks to consider for the next trip.
To help narrow down your options, we looked at which cruise lines were the most popular according to Instagram tags. According to over 630,000 posts, Royal Caribbean earned the top spot as the most popular cruising brand according to social media. With 22 ships in their fleet and itineraries ranging from Alaska to Asia, the hard part might be narrowing down which trip to take first.
Following Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise and Disney Cruise ranked among the most popular cruise lines people are posting about online. Considering its awards for categories like fitness, service, cabins, kids aren’t the only ones bound to enjoy a trip with Mickey out on the open waters.
Even among the elite cruise lines, some ships seem to stand out from the rest as fan-favorites. Whether it’s their robot bartenders or water slides suspended over the bough of the ship, filtering your next cruise vacation specifically by boat could help make days at sea just as exciting as the port excursions you may encounter.
If you’re planning to sail with Royal Caribbean, consider booking passage on the Harmony of the Seas if it lines up with destinations you have in mind. More resort than a ship, the Harmony of the Seas has everything you could want: grade-A entertainment, the Bionic Bar, and the Ultimate Abyss if you’re looking to get from Deck 16 to 6 in 13 seconds flat. You can even go ice skating or rock climbing if there’s time in your day for any more activities on the Harmony.
More interested in perfecting your golf game, fine dining, or the option for spa-specific cabins? Celebrity Cruises might be for you, and the Reflection, Eclipse, and Solstice are all a part of Celebrity’s most elegant Solstice-class ships.
If you’re looking for the best in entertainment from a Carnival cruise, the Vista, Breeze, or Glory are all highly rated, and Disney’s two newest ships (for now) the Dream and the Fantasy earned top marks over the Wonder or Magic.
Your Perfect Match
Before you elevate yourself to a cruise expert, it might first help to decide which cruise line best fits your (or your family’s) vacation agenda. More than just making sure you’ve picked a series of ships that align with what excites you, being loyal to a particular brand can be very rewarding. Most mainstream cruise lines offer loyalty programs that include points, status tiers, and more than a few perks worth striving for. Want to skip the line at embarkation or have your luggage picked up (and dropped off) at home? That’s what loyalty is for.
If your primary focus is to have fun, Carnival cruises could be for you. Our research of millions of Instagram posts found partying and excursions were nearly synonymous with Carnival. Known for being more informal than some other ships, showing up dressed to the nines on a formal night might have you feeling like a fish out of water instead. If you’re more in the market for family-style fun, you might want to consider a Disney cruise instead – ranking first overall for family, according to our research.
If you’re less interested in thrill-seeking and more excited by the main course at dinner, there’s a cruise option for foodies too. For dinner, you might want to consider Princesses Cruises or Royal Caribbean International, and if drinks are more your speed, Norwegian Cruise Lines might be for you.
Looking to slow things down a bit and decompress? Princess, Norwegian, and Carnival earned the top spots for “relax” mentions in the more than 1.8 million Instagram photos analyzed.
Something for Everyone
In case you hadn’t heard, not only is the food you’ll find on your next voyage part of what makes cruising such a great value compared to some other vacation options, but it can also offer some of the best dining experiences anywhere in the world. From high-class dining add-ons to buffets that simply can’t be beat – food can be one of the high points of any cruise vacation.
Any good meal deserves to have at least one picture taken of it before it disappears forever, and those quick snaps helped us determine the most popular foods to consider on your next cruise. The No. 1 thing you probably shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to indulge in? Seafood. Considering that you’ll be out in open waters for at least a few days (if not longer), it seems appropriate to enjoy all the lobster, shrimp, crab, and fish you can get your hands on. Sweets took the next two spots, with dessert and chocolate following the seafood bonanza happening on cruise ships around the world.
Other popular eating trends you might want to keep an eye on? The buffet, of course, and even vegan food choices shared the spotlight in our top 10 along with cake, steak, and salad.
Like eating for some, drinking and cruising can be nearly synonymous. Even if you don’t think an all-you-can-drink option is entirely necessary, you probably won’t go the entire trip without enjoying at least one liquid libation aboard your holiday on the seas.
If you’re looking to just have one or two of the most popular drinks on your next cruise, we’ve got the list you need. From mai tais to mojitos and margaritas, cocktails and cruise ships go together like coconut and rum.
Cocktails might have been the most popular drink choice according to posts studied, but wine and beer weren’t far behind. Still, depending on whom you cruise with and what you’re in the mood for, you might not have to pick between one and the other. Certain cruise lines offer drinking packages to help you sample your way through the options and come up with a personal opinion on which drinks really are the best.
Your Next Adventure, Today
Whether you want to make your way to a tropical destination like the Bahamas or Jamaica or you’re looking to explore something unique like the Alaskan coast or Norwegian fjords, cruising won’t just get you there – it’ll keep you entertained every step of the way. From the parties to the food and even a trip to the spa in between, the options for your next cruise vacation are virtually endless.
At Seahub, we won’t just help you narrow down which trip is right for you, but we’ll also help make sure you get the best deal too. Whether you’re looking for the best in value or luxury (or something in between), we’ll help you search and compare deals from your favorite cruise lines. With cruising, the journey and destination are each a part of what makes traveling so exciting. Let us help you get there. Visit us at Seahub.com to starting planning your next getaway today.
We scraped Instagram for #cruise to obtain over 1.8 million posts. We grouped all posts by mentions of specific keywords or cruise lines. Rankings were determined by case frequency.
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