Thursday, May 15, 2008

Choosing the right cruise line...

Cruising Your Style…

Today’s modern cruise industry is made up of many different styles and sizes of ships, from contemporary to deluxe to luxury and everything in between. All of this terminology can be very confusing but knowing the differences will help you and your Cruise Specialist make the perfect choice to fit your unique needs for your next cruise vacation. Let’s take a look at the differences between styles of cruise lines.

What exactly is a “Contemporary” Cruise Line?:
Contemporary cruises are the most popular segment of the cruise industry and may also be referred to as mass market or First Class cruises. Cruise lines included in this category are Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises and Costa Cruises. These larger ships cater to thousands of guests and typically have resort-style facilities with heavy emphasis on shipboard activities. Many short three, four and five day itineraries departing from close to home U.S. cities and visiting the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Baja Mexico are offered. In the seven day contemporary market, cruise travelers can enjoy the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera and Alaska. Longer international itineraries of 10-14 days such as Europe, South America and Asia are also seasonally offered. Contemporary lines tend to have newer and larger cruise ships with lots of amenities including lavish show rooms, extensive spa facilities, large casinos, expansive children's programs, televisions and in-room movies in all cabins, double/queen beds, etc. A contemporary cruise will have something for everybody - all age groups. Best for families and kids of all ages as the award winning kids programs dedicate staff and space to entertain kids and teens of all ages.

What makes a cruise line part of a “Premium” class of lines?:
A step above contemporary, premium lines offer more service and added amenities. Holland America and Celebrity are two well known premium lines and are famous for catering to more experienced cruisers. While still offering most of the activities of a contemporary line, premium lines include more upscale offerings such as white glove service, high tea, wine tastings, cigar bars, etc. Many itineraries are for seven+ days and travel to similar destinations as the contemporary lines, but longer more extensive itineraries including Europe and Alaska in the summer months. Holland America Line even offers a full 100+ day World cruise. Premium lines are great for couples of all ages and traditionally have good children’s programs.
I have not ever heard of a “Deluxe” Cruise Line can you explain the difference?:
The newest category in cruising is deluxe – the ships are more elegant but would not be considered “all inclusive” as most of the luxury lines are. The two cruise lines that fall into this category are Azamara and Oceania Cruises. The ships are smaller and carry fewer guests, approximately 800. Stateroom amenities are more luxurious with high thread count sheets, high end toiletries, pillow menus, etc. Entertainment is more cabaret style, casinos are smaller and the libraries are extensive. Itineraries tend to be longer that seven days and to more exotic destinations. These lines are not recommended for families with young children as there traditionally are not activities or staff dedicated to children and teens.

Is “Luxury” just a fancy word for expensive?:
Actually, when it comes to a luxury cruise, the value far exceeds what is delivered by a luxury hotel or resort. Luxury or ultra luxury cruising delivers personalized service and high space to guest ratios, and are considered the highest quality of cruise experience available. With a staff to guest ratio of 1:1.5, guests’ needs are always anticipated and attention to detail waits around every beautiful corner. World-class cuisine is created and designed by leading celebrity chefs and served in an “open seating” environment where every meal is prepared to order. Some of the top Luxury cruise lines include: Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Cunard Line, The Yachts of Seabourn and SeaDream Yacht Club. These lines are rich in amenities, service and style and focus on the world’s most unique destinations. These luxury cruise lines welcome between 100-900 guests and provide each traveler with the opportunity to be treated like an individual and not part of the crowd. Some sailings tend to be significantly more formal than contemporary cruise lines. Their ships tend to carry far fewer passengers and accommodations are often more spacious with a very high percentage of oceanview staterooms and balcony suites including king-sized beds, sitting areas and private teak wood verandahs. Many of these lines are “all inclusive” where items like gratuities, wine and spirits, custom shore excursions and more are included in the base cruise fare. These cruise lines are much more itinerary oriented and often feature longer cruises, international travel and follow warm weather around the world. Many luxury guests are more experienced and more discerning travelers. These sailings are not as "entertainment-oriented" as they are "experience-oriented". Luxury lines have very limited or no programs for children and would not be the first choice for families.

So now that you know the differences between a contemporary cruise line and a premium, deluxe and luxury cruise line you can make an educated decision on what type of ship you would like to sail on. Your Cruise Specialist is here to help you choose the right ship and the right itinerary to create your dream cruise vacation. Call me now and start planning your getaway today!

No comments: