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Arranging a cruise that successfully meets your needs is a difficult task.  There are a number of questions that you should ask before you talk to a travel agent.  Read our article and consider the issues that are important to you. 

 

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Travel Advice/Travel Tips -  Cruises - What you need to know

Taking a cruise is one of the most popular and satisfying forms of vacations and cruises are one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry.  Cruises cover the seven seas and over 1800 ports worldwide.  In addition, a cruise vacation is one of the safest ways you can spend your vacation time.

Many travelers enjoy taking a cruise, although selecting the right cruise for you is  hard work.  Everyone who has taken a cruise has unique preferences in terms of itineraries, ships, activities, cost, and other issues too numerous to mention. 

  • Book a cruise online only if you are an experienced cruiser.

  • If you are taking your first cruise, there are a number of issues to consider.

 Our first recommendation is:

  • Talk to a travel agent who is knowledgeable about cruising

 The areas you should discuss are:

What is your reason for taking a cruise? 

  • Are you interested in the “cruise experience”

  • Do you want to explore areas that are best connected by ocean travel, or some combination of both activities?

  • Are you looking for rest, relaxation, or an adventure?

Itinerary

  • Where in the world (what geography) do you want to visit?

    • What areas do you want to see and in how much detail?

    • What length of cruise is possible for you (count the time it will take to fly to the port of embarkation and the flight home from the point of disembarkation)?

Type of cruise

  • Most cruises are “general purpose, combining a relaxing on-board environment with port-based tours of well-known locations. 

  • Some cruises, however, are “themed” and staffed with recognized experts in culture, art, history of some other specialty that is aligned with the purpose of the cruise. 

    • Many of these cruises are affiliated with major museums or universities.

  • There are even cruises for investors where you can hear industry experts tell you how they would invest your money.

  • Themed cruises are usually substantially more expensive than non-themed cruises.

    • These cruises often, appeal to those with a high level of disposable income.

  • Which type of cruise is of interest to you?

Cost

  • How much are you willing to spend on the cruise?

    • Remember that the cost of the cruise usually does not include the cost of land tours

    • In addition, the cost of the cruise does not include many of the services that might appeal to you while on board (masseuse, steam baths, personal services, sports, alcoholic beverages, etc.). 

    • Finally, you need to add the cost of airfare, insurance, and any pre and post cruise excursions that you are contemplating. (See our general article on Insurance for travelers.)

  • Make no mistake about it; the cost of a cruise can build dramatically when you add the extras.

What kind of cabin appeals to you?

  • Some travelers like suites.  Others like to have a balcony and a small patio.  Still others are comfortable with small cabins with portholes.

    • A common rule of cruising is that more cabin room equates with higher cost.

    • Research cabin sizes and think about what not being cramped for space is worth to you.

  • Another aspect of cabins is location. 

    • Cabins closer to the water can be very noisy. 

    • Some cabins are interior, do not have windows, and are low cost.

  • Some travelers prefer a specific side of the vessel

  • Others prefer a room location away from stairs or elevators in order to reduce noise and foot traffic near their rooms

  • Think about "your cabin" and have an opinion when you talk to the travel agent.

Many people consider the choice of vessel or cruise line to be the most important consideration in cruising.  We don’t think so but it is an important choice.

  • Many travelers want to sail on the newest, largest, most luxurious liner that they can find, as the cruise is the event that is important to them. 

  • Other travelers choose cruise ships based on cost, itineraries, amenities, or other factors. 

Another important variable is ship size

  • Smaller ships carry less people and can enter ports that are closed to larger ships.

  • Conversely, larger ships provide more amenities and social activities. 

    • Usually a large liner will have several swimming pools, Broadway style reviews, numerous recreation opportunities, and an open, spacious feeling.

  • Regardless of your tastes, remember that the vessel will be your “hotel, hotel room, and transportation” for the duration of the cruise, so be sure that you choose something that reflects your preferences. 

  • You need to decide what aspect of vessel selection is important to you.

Style of cruise is another important variable.

  • Would you enjoy a formal cruise, requiring formal clothing for meals and other activities, or do you want a casual-style cruise? 

  • Do you prefer open-seating as opposed to fixed-seating for meals?

  • If you find it desirable, some cruises are designed to allow you to be part of the crew and help sail the ship.

  • So, either think about the type of experience you want or ask the agent for his or her recommendation on a cruise line that meets your requirements.

Be sure to ask

  • Cruise lines are always introducing new itineraries, so ask your agent to tell you what is new in the world of cruising.

  • More than 50 new ships will be added to their fleets by the cruise line industry in the first half of this decade, so ask about new ships, their amenities, and new features.

The cost of a cruise is a substantial investment for most of us and you can make your cruise more enjoyable by thinking through the issues we have raised before you visit with your travel agent.

Visit the International Cruise Line International Association (www.cruising.org) to see how cruise lines are working to increase the many ways they serve you, the traveling pubic.

 

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