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Which Cruise To Choose. You Can’t Hear it Enough!

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The subject of choosing a cruise that’s right for you may be one of the most covered topics for cruise related web sites, and cruise advice columns. In fact this could be my own third or fourth version discussing this issue, so my goal was to discover a new approach to the old topic. You may want to take that stated goal as a warning… because you should know no good is going to come of it.

The first step in deciding which cruise to choose is to decide if you in fact would at least have a chance to make you “a good cruiser”. To determine that possibility, a necessary qualifier is that you are alive. Though dead passengers can lighten the work load of the crew, dead folks really don’t make “good cruisers”. If you’re onboard, but dead, your presence would benefit your fellow passengers as space ratios improve, and demands on the ship’s services is lessened – to the degree that being dead you won’t put any demands on those services.

If you’ve decided with some degree of certainty that you are still alive but the thought of being on water for any reason whatsoever (other than boarding Noah’s Ark as its sailed by your ranch house in New Mexico) makes you want to vomit, then you should probably pass up any opportunity to cruise, no matter how your friends try to convince you it’s the best valued vacation available.

But, once you’ve assessed the situation, and believe you’d like to cruise, what really is the best way to determine which cruise line would be best for you?

Some experts will suggest the most crucial point to consider is the itinerary; the places the ship will take you; or in “cruise writer lingo”- the ports of call you’d most like to visit.

If you were to research and consult with a good cruise travel agent before booking, which far too few people do, before booking you they’d be more likely to ask you where you’ve been, than where you want to go. By that, I don’t mean you’d be expected to supply a geographical list of every place you’ve ever gone. Rather, I mean a good agent would attempt to interview you to determine what your likes and dislikes might be, what sorts of activities you enjoy, what types of restaurants you enjoy, and most importantly how much money is on your wallet.

OK, the last point is a bit of a stretch, but naturally budget is an important consideration, and a good cruise travel agent will supply you with the explanations of the variety and variations in cruise line pricing. Pricing alone isn’t a factor until you spend more than you can afford to, or are accustomed to luxury travel and end up as part of the rowing crew of a Viking war-ship. Even if you’ve pre-determined how much you’d like to spend on your cruise, there’s variables. What’s the best accommodation for you, a top drawer cabin on a budget cruise line, or an actual top drawer in someone else’s cabin on a luxury ship?

Next up on the “always available” list in articles about choosing your cruise is “food”. All the cruise lines have food onboard, so I’m not quite certain why it garners as much discussion as it does. There is a very stereotypical view of cruising — that people choose to cruise because there’s an endless supply of food onboard, and that’s true.

Well, it’s true that there is virtually an endless supply of food onboard, but I’m  guessing less than one third of people chose to cruise based solely on that fact. I’m considered a pretty good eater, but frankly I have no idea of what people are really talking about when they say they are a “foody” or a “gourmand”. Does that mean they like to eat more than I do? I doubt that!  Does it mean that they know better than I do what tastes good? Does it mean that they like to eat more expensive things than I do, or that they enjoy eating things that most other human beings wouldn’t let pass their lips, just so they can offer an opinion on it?

At any rate, I digress. There is a large variance in the food quality and variety on  menus offered on all the different cruise lines. And if I knew for sure that you liked to eat the same stuff I do, I’d give you my opinion of which is the best.

I also wouldn’t suggest you base your selection of cruise line on anyone else’s opinions of cuisine either, even if they are gourmands. While food indeed can be a factor that influences your enjoyment of the cruise, I would never suggest someone choose a cruise on that basis alone.

Advice I’ve given previously, and continue to see many other industry people offer is to find a cruise line who’s personality matches your own.  It is true that the cruise lines have worked quite diligently to create identities which they hope will differentiate them from the other lines.

If you’re a narcissist you can find a ship who’s interiors are filled with mirrors for your viewing pleasure. If you’re agoraphobic you can find ships with cabins you  never have to leave. If you’re photogenic I’d welcome you on any ship I’ll be on.

At an ever increasing pace, theme cruises covering just about any type of affinity group or activities are being promoted. This really does create a huge variety of niches to chose from, that you may fit into. These days just about any theme from soap operas, to soap box cruises, to sports themed, to educationally focused cruises can be found quite easily. The specificity available is truly quite remarkable.
If you’ve managed to read this blog, making it all the way to this point, I’m supposing you’d like to see a point made.

That point is… the options now available in the cruise industry are endless, and very complicated, and I recommend that everyone, experienced cruisers, and most certainly first-time cruisers, seek out the advice and assistance of experienced Cruise Travel Agents when considering a cruise.

While the opinions you hear from your neighbours, your relatives, your friends, your butcher, and me, should be considered; frankly I believe, the more professional advice you get, the happier returning cruiser you’ll be.

Or you could follow my lead and book ships, where the primary color of interior décor matches my favorite underwear.

Cruise vacations are much too costly to leave everything to chance, booking because a friend is going, or based on ad you saw or heard. The most unhappy returning cruisers we see on the message boards are those who really didn’t know what to expect in the first place other than the stereotypical images of “cruising”.

Your choice of ship will be the single most important factor in whether or not you enjoy your cruise. It’s mind boggling how little thought so many people into that decision. It’s a topic that requires a book be written to cover the subject, rather than a few thousand words in cruise advice columns and Blogs.

– A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Trip
Time June 17, 2009 at 5:53 pm

So many times, in the posts we read, about people and cruising NOT clicking, is the fact that, the ship/cruiseline, and the cruiser, was a poor match. This is the crucial startting point, and how right you are, the knowledgeable ta, will make the world of difference.

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