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How To Contribute To The Success Of Your Cruise Vacation

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Cruising is consistently given the highest satisfaction ratings of any vacation by consumer’s post vacation evaluations. Even considering that fact there are those who voice complaints about particular aspects of their cruise experience. Some of the most common complaints of late are…”nickel & diming” – where the claim is cruise lines are attempting to charge extra for many items onboard; some of which may have been previously been included in the cruise fare; the rising costs of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; perceived (or real) reductions in service levels onboard ,assumed to be caused by reduced staffing levels; “dress codes” – with some people lamenting the reduced standards for evening dress onboard, yet others suggesting that requiring passengers to dress more formally impinges on their ability to enjoy their cruise; and as standards on land have been changing quite radically, the cruise line’s smoking policies continue to cause much debate and acrimony. There are, of course, other issues and incidents, more personal, individual and anecdotal which may result in some areas of disappointment.

It is perhaps surprising just how much each of us can do to affect and improve our experience, and result in our own improved satisfaction.

#1 is Choosing Your Cruise – Now, more than ever before, the cruise lines are doing much to differentiate themselves from each other. For a period, through the ‘90s and early in this decade, I felt the cruise lines were more similar to each other than they were different. Except for small variances, a cruise was a cruise was a cruise.

In today’s world the cruise lines target is to define themselves from competitors quite differently. They all float, and they may visit the same ports of call, but these days some are concentrating on creating very active daytime activities onboard, while others concentrate their efforts on upgrading their food and beverage departments, others direct more of their attention to their evening entertainment programs, while another may be attempting to add more choices for upgraded accommodation amenities.

The point is, as customers we now have a multitude of style choices, and we can directly impact our satisfaction levels by researching and studying those choices in order to select the cruise line which we will be the suitable.

The last thing you want to do is book a cruise simply because a friend has booked it, and invited you to come along. It can be a wonderful experience cruising with friends, and that alone can improve your satisfaction. But to really optimize that situation, as a group, you should work together to choose your cruise line.
The very best way to narrow your choices, and to choose the most appropriate, is to work with well trained travel agents, who are cruise specialists. Today the choices in the cruise industry are much too vast to rely on the advice of just any travel agent. While they may be licensed to sell travel, the cruise specialists are going to have more detailed information and knowledge of the industry.

You wouldn’t go to your family doctor to perform surgery. You would want a specialist. The same should be true when choosing your travel agent.

#2 is your attitude! It may seem overly simplistic to say we need to have a good attitude about our cruise, but it can impact your satisfaction levels more than any amenity on any ship. This isn’t to say that we need to remain positive and accepting of every circumstance that goes array. But nor should we expect that everything is going to run at 100 % efficiency, and just the way it should be. The difference in attitude determines how we much we allow the “bumps in the road” to diminish our satisfaction. The difference in attitude determines our actions to help ensure that “bump in the road” doesn’t reoccur.

# 3 is expectations! The easiest way to describe expectations, is you have to expect to get what you paid for. Don’t allow anyone to make you believe you are going to be given all sorts of amenities onboard that you didn’t pay for. While individual standards are different, you’re not going to be enjoying gourmet dining when you’ve paid $599 for a seven day cruise. Just because a travel agent says it’s so, you’re not going to get upgraded to luxurious suite accommodations just because you booked with them (complimentary upgrades, even to a suite, do occur on rare occasion, but at present the policy on most cruise lines is to attempt to sell last minute upgrades, if available, for a reduced fee).

#4 is surviving the fun! How is that most of us end a cruise feeling like we need a vacation? That feeling seems to be one of the criteria for us to feel as though we got the most out of our cruise.

It seems counterintuitive to think that feeling we need a vacation from our vacation affects our satisfaction ratings, doesn’t it?

How is it that a vacation, widely viewed as spending languid days at sea, moving from one meal to the next to the next to the next to the next, with snacks in between, leaves so many of us exhausted?

It does, because there’s so much more going on, and we want to consume all of it. The over consumption can kill us. But, we feel like we died only after filling out our customer satisfaction surveys, rating everything excellent, and walking off the ship.

Those who fail to participate and consume much of what was available to them on the ship, are the ones more likely to feel less satisfied with the experience. Play along, and you’ll be much happier than if you just watched. It will make any issues you may have had with #1, #2, or #3 inconsequential.

– A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Frank Garcia
Time January 24, 2012 at 5:57 am

I have been on a few cruises(Princess, Carnival,M.S.C,Costa N.C.L and Royal Carribean. I’ve had a great time on all of them but one of the things I DON’T like is being charged for thing that were free on other cruise lines, for instance on N.C.L.they wanted to charge me for using the steam room and covered jaccuzzi in the gym,this has happened in South America and on a Mediterreanan cruise my advise for 1st time cruisers is to NOT make N.C.L your 1st cruise that way you can see what a real cruise should be!!

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