As much as we love road trips (and we really do) – there’s something magical about sailing away into the horizon with the wind blowing through your hair, endless steel drum music playing and not a worry in the world. Cruising is a very important part of traveling and as travel experts we want to make sure you experience the vacation you’ve always dreamed about. Cruising for the first timer can be a difficult vacation to plan. It’s hard to determine which ship to sail on and where to go. We want to make your life a little easier and for that reason, we researched a few of the best ships and destinations to consider for your 2013 cruise vacation. See below for our top picks:

Royal Caribbean
Southern Caribbean Cruise
Nights: 7
Ship: Jewel of the Sea
Terminal: Puerto Rico
Stops: Saint Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados
Dates: January-October
Starting Price: $649

Disney Cruise Line
Western Caribbean Itinerary B
Nights: 7
Ship: Fantasy
Terminal: Port Canaveral
Stops: Grand Cayman, Mexico, Bahamas
Dates: January-December
Starting Price: $1,225

Gets you to Costa Maya and Disney’s own Castaway Cay for the most family-friendly vacation around.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Eastern Caribbean
Nights: 8
Ship: Norwegian Gem
Terminal: New York City
Stops: San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Maarten; St. Thomas, USVI; Samana, Dominican Republic
Dates: January to April; October and November
Starting price: $679

For U.S. northerners, you get four total days at sea to enjoy the ship, plus you hit two Caribbean meccas: Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean