First-Time Cruisers Guide: Choosing the Right Cruise Line for Your Budget

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Embarking on a cruise journey for the first time can be as exciting as it is daunting. With an array of cruise lines to choose from, each offering unique experiences and amenities, deciding on the perfect one that aligns with your budget and vacation expectations requires a bit of guidance. This guide aims to demystify the selection process for first-time cruisers, highlighting options that cater to various preferences, from family-friendly adventures to luxury escapes and budget-friendly voyages. Here are our top picks for first-time cruisers!

For the Family Fun-Seekers: Royal Caribbean

If you’re aiming to keep a family entertained, look no further than Royal Caribbean. Known for its innovation and the variety of attractions it offers, Royal Caribbean is the epitome of a family-friendly cruise line that doesn’t skimp on excitement or amenities. From thrilling onboard activities like zip-lining, Ice Skating and surfing simulators to aquatic parks for the little ones, there’s never a dull moment.

Navigator of the Seas in Mazatlan - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Navigator of the Seas in Mazatlan / Sail Away Magazine

The culinary scene on Royal Caribbean ships is just as vibrant, with a fine selection of restaurants catering to every taste. Guests can enjoy everything from casual dining at the Windjammer Café to exotic Asian cuisine at Izumi. The onboard experience is complemented by spacious and comfortable accommodations, ensuring that after a day full of adventure, relaxation is just a step away.

Why not check out this cruise?

Royal Caribbean – Navigator of the Seas – Mexican Riviera – 7 Nights – Prices from £533pp (Excluding Flights & Transfers)

For the Luxury Small Ship Experience: Azamara

Azamara stands out for those seeking an intimate cruising experience without forgoing the essence of luxury. With a smaller fleet, Azamara focuses on delivering exceptional service, comfortable staterooms and suites, and an immersive destination experience. Their itineraries are meticulously designed to include fewer sea days and longer stays in port, allowing guests to deeply explore each destination.

Azamara Onward in Montenegro - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Azamara Onward in Montenegro / Sail Away Magazine

The onboard experience with Azamara is equally enriching, characterised by gourmet dining options and thoughtful amenities. Their ships exude a boutique hotel vibe, ensuring a cosy and luxurious journey from start to finish. When you factor in the amount that is included in your cruise fare, they also offer incredible value for money!

Why not check out this cruise?

Azamara – Azamara Pursuit – Western Mediterranean – 7 Nights – Prices from £1378pp (Excluding Flights & Transfers)

For Big-Ship Glamour with a Touch of Luxury: Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises is an excellent choice for those who yearn for the grandeur of large ships coupled with luxurious elements. Celebrity’s fleet is acclaimed for its architectural innovation and stylish design, offering guests not just a voyage but an experience in elegance. Accommodations across all classes are designed with comfort and practicality in mind, ensuring a serene retreat regardless of your room selection.

Celebrity Apex alongside Geiranger, Norway
Credit: Celebrity Apex alongside Geiranger, Norway / Sail Away Magazine

Dining on Celebrity Cruises is a culinary adventure, with an array of top-tier venues ranging from the inclusive Oceanview Cafe’s quality buffet-style dining to the gastronomic delights of Eden Restaurant, one of the finest at sea. The entertainment onboard, particularly the award-winning theatre shows recognised by Forbes, is sure to add a dazzling highlight to your cruise experience.

Why not check out this cruise?

Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Apex – Canary Islands – 11 Nights – Prices from £2349pp (Outside Stateroom, No Fly-Cruise)

For the Budget-Conscious: Ambassador Cruise Line

For those eager to dip their toes into cruising without breaking the bank, Ambassador Cruise Line offers a compelling proposition. Operating with two older and smaller ships, Ambassador focuses on delivering a warm and friendly service, excellent dining experiences, and some of the most competitive onboard prices you will find at sea.

Ambassador Ambience Cruise Ship - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Ambassador Ambience Cruise Ship / Sail Away Magazine

One of the unique selling points of Ambassador Cruise Line is its offering of no-fly cruises exclusively out of the UK, making it an ideal choice for those looking to embark on a hassle-free cruise adventure, without the stress of an airport. Despite the ships’ smaller size, guests can still expect a memorable voyage filled with delightful experiences, attentive service and destination-immersive experiences.

Why not check out this cruise?

Ambassador – Ambience – Amsterdam Mini Cruise – 3 Nights – Prices from £329pp (No Fly-Cruise)


Choosing the right cruise line for your first voyage at sea doesn’t have to be a complex decision. Whether you’re searching for an action-packed family holiday, a luxurious small-ship experience, a touch of elegance on a grand scale, or a budget-friendly adventure, there’s a cruise line tailored to meet your desires. Royal Caribbean, Azamara, Celebrity Cruises, and Ambassador Cruise Line each offer distinct experiences designed to cater to a variety of preferences and budgets, ensuring your first cruise is nothing short of remarkable.

To discover your perfect cruise, make sure you check out ROL Cruise!

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