Are you a cruise vacations novice? IF so, you will need to learn a thing or two about a cruise line before making your purchase. A little research goes a long way and your decisions can ensure that you have a fabulous trip, or mediocre cruise trip.

Here are few things to look for when evaluating a cruise line and cruise ship. Outdoor facilities are very important as having only a few public areas can be large crowds and wait times. Check to see how many pools, whirlpools and deck area that the cruise ship has to offer. Are there deck chairs and outdoor sports facilities?

How's the décor of the ship? Interior decoration gives the ship its charm, or lack thereof. Ask the travel specialist about passenger corridors and interior crowd congestion. Are there enough facilities for handicapped patrons? Cruise lines ,such as Disney Cruises have their own flair and decor that make it unique compared to other cruises. Sometimes design adds to the excitement of the whole cruise.

The spa is another tool with which you can evaluate a cruise ship. A good cruise ship should have a variety of spa services, fitness facilities and wellness centers. The spa should be noise free (or have a low level of noise) and the lighting/design should be pleasing to the eye. Also, the amount of staff serving spa treatments is important as more staff tends to mean more chances of discounts.

What is the general layout of the standard cabin? The beds and furniture should be placed with practicality and usefulness. Beds should not be jammed into a room and furniture should be thoughtfully placed. Also, take into consideration the amount of closet space (if any) and drawer space in the nightstand. There's nothing like trying to jam all of your clothes into a tiny chest of drawers.

Food, the main factor for many people is always a key indicator of whether or not a cruise ship is worthy of traveling on. Some things to evaluate are the interior design of the main restaurant and the type of cutlery/china that they use. If the cruise line serves food on cafeteria style plastic trays and plastic forks and knives, you know you're in trouble. If they can't splurge on real dishes, they can't splurge on high-quality foods (microwave cuisine). On the lines of food quality, make sure to review what type of food they serve. Higher quality ingredients are generally focused on higher-end cruise lines. Lower end cruise lines use frozen and never fresh meats. The maitre d', dining room managers and wait persons should know proper restaurant etiquette. Everything from communication skills, dress, flair and attitude should be taken into consideration as all of these things will determine whether you have a great dining experience or a bad one.

Lastly, gratuities are another item you must check. Some cruise lines charge higher gratuities than others with an average of about $10 per day. All gratuities are charged to your final bill. These are evaluation tools will ensure that you have the best cruise vacations experience.