For those who know us, they are all aware that we love to travel. All kinds of travel, well maybe no outer space stuff, but the kind ordinary folks would like.
Today I am returning to our “travel section”and will delve into the world of cruising. We love to cruise on several levels. Let’s start with some basics.
Cruise ships come in several sizes, and types. They can be as small as the kind that go into places like the Galapagos which are quite small. And then there are the rally big ones with 3000 to 5000 passengers. We like anything less than 3000, otherwise we have problems with access to the ship, buses and tenders. Rides on a larger ship will be more comfortable than a small one.
Cruise lines in the US are largely controlled by a few companies. Cardinal for one own a few lines like Princess, Cardinal, Holland America, and so on. Celebrity are owned by Royal Caribbean who also own a small ship line Azamara. We tend to avoid the party style ships like Cardinal, or Disney with a plethora of kids. We like Celebrity, and Princess. Holland America seemed to us to cater to an older crowd than what we were.
Ships offer varying prices, and they change often! Usually you can get your best value at the start of the cruise listing. There are great buys too, if you can wait to get a sell off cabin but you will need to get away right now. There are bargains to be had just before the ship sails, if that will work for you. We find that we get a good price when the cruise is announced. We get to choose where we are on the ship, and still get good pricing. All cabins are not created equal! There are inside ones without any windows or portholes, and the next ones up would be ocean view. Often they are obstructed with lifeboats but there is a porthole or window. The next cabin up is a balcony cabin, and it offers a seating area, with wall to wall glass doors that open onto the balcony. The next class up will get you a deluxe or sometimes a mini suite. Finally there is a larger suite that may go by many names, and it may include a butler.
Choosing a cabin is not too hard. Look for one that is about midships, for and aft. Look to for one that is not too high up. The more forward or higher you go, the more the ship motion will be. We look for a cabin with a balcony, about midships and not at the top deck. Avoid a cabin that is under the dance floor, or the running track, or is too close to the front where the noise from the anchor chain may be a bother. All the cabins are pretty much the same except for the suites, which offer a lot of amenities like hot tubs and a lot more room. You can check any of this on a web site like Princess, who by the way have probably the best web page in the business. They offer tons of images, and information.
There are a number of things we like about cruising, such as it is a one stop shop. You can book through the cruise lines, but that is very time-consuming, and you can get the same thing using a travel agent that hopefully specializes in cruise ships. We use an agent always and they look after it all. They get us our airline fares, a difficult thing to synchronize with a sailing ship! They arrange for us to be picked up at the air terminal, transfer to the hotel, our baggage pick up, our pick up in the morning of the cruise and delivery of us and our baggage to the ship. They also make sure the trip home at the end is also looked after. Surprisingly this is not really expensive. They can get you a cabin that may not be available, and they have all ships at their fingertips.
One of our big likes is that you board the ship, get welcomed, find your cabin, and shortly you baggage will arrive. You unpack and stow your stuff, and never think about it again until you have to disembark the ship at the end of the cruise. How is that for convenience! No living out of a suitcase! All cruise people will tell you that is a big deal for them.
So now you are on the ship, and get a chance to find out what is available and where it is. Here’s the deal. Everybody eats the same, either in the cafeteria or the dining rooms. Yes I said dining rooms, plural. There are specialty dining rooms at extra cost, anytime dining, or the regular main dining room. Everybody can get room service, go to the evening theater for the entertainment, use the pools and so on. It matters not what cabin you bought. The rest is all included. The only extra cost you will have is the cost of gratuities for your cabin steward, waiter, and so on. It comes out to about $12.00 a day per person. If you can avoid the booze, which will carry a 15% tip built-in, you can see some fantastic places in the world all for one price, and have a 5 star vacation on a floating resort!
I’ll get back to this subject later, since I think there is enough there to get you thinking about the benefits of cruising.