Choosing a cruise can be overwhelming, especially since there’s such a huge price difference between some of the mega cruise ships that appear to be offering the exact same cruise to the same destination. So is there really a difference between cruise lines? And how do you choose?
Peta-Gaye Daniel, founder of the travel blog, My Cruising Family, says there are definite differences between the different lines.
Daniel often cruises via MSC Seaview because they frequently offer a “kids sail free” promotion (she has three children) along with beverages included in some room categories. But, she occasionally splurges with a Disney Cruise.
“The only children’s club that our 8-year-old has stayed in for a significant portion of the day is Disney’s Oceaneer’s Club,” Daniel says. “Disney undoubtedly offers the best childcare and interactive children’s activities that we’ve seen at sea, which allows for parents to have alone time.”
Disney also charges a higher upfront fee but includes non-alcoholic beverages in that fee (most other lines charge for everything except lemonade, water and iced tea). Alcoholic beverages on Disney aren’t included, but they’re reasonably priced when compared with other cruise lines, Daniel says.
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Those without children may also profit from a more expensive ship, however.
Holland America is a premium line that’s geared less toward kids as it is toward couples and older adults. There are relatively larger cabins and a higher level of service than you might expect on a lower-priced cruise, says Erik Elvejord, spokesman for Holland America.
He compared the lower-end cruise lines to Holiday Inn and Motel 6 hotels, which are geared toward the mass market. Then comes the Sheraton, Marriott and other hotels in this mid-range which are premium. At the top, there’s the Ritz and the Four Seasons, which are the luxury lines.
The general rule is that the more expensive the line, the less crowded the ship will be, the more space you’ll have to yourself and the better the quality of the food and entertainment. But it’s not always the case—and sometimes, the seemingly inexpensive cruise lines can become more expensive very quickly once you add on all the a la carte items.
Before looking at the initial bottom line and shrugging off seemingly expensive cruises, it’s important to examine all costs. Each cruise line has its own gratuity policy: most mainstream cruises add about $14 per person to your cruise in gratuities per day. But some, like Marella Cruises, don’t charge extra for gratuity.
Then, there are the drink packages which can cost up to $100 per day plus gratuity, though some cruise lines will throw this in for free.
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Room service can also be an additional fee on some cruises, though many luxury brands like Holland America, will throw the room service in at no extra cost.
Singles will typically be expected to pay extra for the single supplement fee – unless they cruise via Holland America, where there are single accommodations plus roommate matching services.
So before taking a cruise, it’s important to decide which features are important to you, and then examine the different cruise lines to see what is being offered for an additional fee to see which works out better price-wise.
Comments & Discussion
Royal Caribbean Makes Additional Comment on Future of Buffets
The buffet—as much a staple on cruise ships as anything—will live on in a different form, at least on Royal Caribbean vessels.
A week after Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, intimated that buffets would likely not exist when Royal Caribbean returns to the sea, CruiseRadio.net reports something of an evolution on that stance.
Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, appeared on Coffee Chat, a weekly talk with travel advisors with host and Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support and Service Vicki Freed, and said buffets will change but not go away entirely.
“(Where) everybody reaches in and everybody touches the same tongs, you’re not going to see (that) on land or sea,” Fain said. “(But) it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a buffet. You might have it where all of that is served to you by other people. And there (are) other possibilities. But the point is that it will evolve.”
By way of example, Fain said to consider the Midnight Buffet.
“I don’t think anyone says, ‘Where’s the midnight buffet?’” he said. “You haven’t seen the midnight buffet for years and that was long before we had COVID-19. Tastes change and people change, and cruise lines change to accommodate.”
Fain told TravelWeekly, sister publication to TravelPulse.com, that cruisers will adapt, much as air travelers did in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“If you remember after (that), all of a sudden you had to do a strip search at the airport. You couldn’t take a bottle of water on the plane,” he said. “A lot of people said, ‘Nobody’s ever going to fly. Who’s going to want to go on an airplane?’ Airplane travel didn’t end. In fact, it grew. But it evolved. So it isn’t the same when you go today. You do go through security checks, and you do go through identity checks and frankly, we’ve become accustomed to it and the technology has helped make it easier.”
Comments & Discussion
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