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Compromise Is Necessary To Cruise

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 People who have cruised previously are quite likely the #1 reason new people choose to cruise for the first time.

Whether it’s family members pushing you to join them, or friends, or people in your work place, raving about how superb their cruises were, that’s likely the reason you set out on your first cruise.

As devotees to the cruise vacation, we all understand, and brag about the great value in choosing a cruise for our vacations. And I have to admit cruising is addictive to a great many of the people who try it. On every ship sailing these days, there is almost always a large percentage of passengers who are repeat cruisers. There are many good reasons that people do “fall in love” with cruising, and stick with it, at the expense of other vacation choices.

But even the most ardent cruiser has to admit that there are areas we must comprise in, from our inner visions of what makes an ideal vacation.

The number ONE thing we comprise on is space. One is required to book into some of the ship’s highest categories of available accommodation in order to get a cabin that is at least as large as a standard 3 star hotel room. Typical accommodations on ships range from 150 to 250 sq. ft. of space. And that space includes the washroom/toilet area, closet space, seating area (if there is one), and bed (or beds). Without stepping up to the more expensive suite categories, the actual available “living area” can easily be as little as 100 – 150 sq. ft.

Admittedly, it is magical just how well designed these cabins are, with incredibly efficient use of space. Yet, it would be foolish to not admit we’re compromising  desired space, for the value other aspects of the cruise can offer to make up for it.

It’s not just in the cabins where we comprise on loss of space. No matter how many times I hear people say or write that they never felt crowded on a ship, with the possible exception of the smaller luxury cruise lines, I simply do not believe it. It is the degree of crowding that one is willing to accept as being crowded (or non crowded) that matters. It is a matter of how much you’re willing to compromise to realize tolerable crowding.

The thing to realize before you even go on a cruise, on a contemporary ship, is you are sharing a finite amount of space on a ship, with anywhere from  1000 to 6000 other bodies. You may certainly find the occasional empty lounge to sit, relax, and have a drink in. But once you head to some of the more popular pubic venues on board; like the showroom, comedy club,’re going to encounter some crowding to accept and deal with. I’m certainly not trying to say that these issues are intolerable, or even uncomfortable, but I do think understanding they exist as a reality on board will lead people to have more realistic expectations of “the package” that is a part of a cruise vacation.

Crowding, in some form or other, should be expected when boarding a ship, either when first embarking on your voyage, as well as boarding and disembarking in both ports of call, and at the end of the cruise.

Number TWO on my list is the variances in cuisine and culinary expectations, from the reality. The availability of food on board is never an issue. The image of a cornucopia of food available is a true one. On most ships food is available 24/7. However, through media advertising and word of mouth, it is easy to believe that dining on board is always a state of fine dining, where you can indulge in perfectly prepared foods at every meal.

While there are on occasion perfectly prepared, delicious, meals served on ships, those will normally be found in the now common “alternate restaurants” available (at an extra cost). The  majority of passengers on a ship take their meals in either the ship’s main dining rooms, or buffets. In most of those cases the meals would be classified as quite good to excellent (with an asterisk). The asterisk is the understanding that you are eating banquet food, that is not prepared a la minute (when it is ordered).

The reality here is that we are not truly compromising that much. I think it’s very rare that any of us are true gourmands, who only eat in the finest of restaurants all of the time when we travel… or when we’re at home. However, if you are expecting a full fine dining experience, your taste buds are going to have to comprise. The one huge advantage in the dining room on a ship, compared to a land based restaurant, is that if any item is not to your liking, the service staff will normally happily exchange it for something else. Or, if there’s is a selection that you fall in love with, at no extra cost, they will bring you more.

Number THREE on my list of comprise necessary is your time.

You are comprising the time you spend in ports of call your ship visits. By the very nature of  cruise ship travel, your time to visit each place your ship stops is limited. You’re required to choose what sites are must sees on your wish list, and activities you must achieve to satisfy you.

The advantage of a cruise is it allows you to travel in a leisurely manner to more places than you can easily visit on your own. You do, however, have to comprise on the “completeness” of your visits. You comprise on the amount of time you have to interact with the local culture of each place you visit.

Cruising is not the right vacation for everyone. If you love camping; if you’re an RV enthusiast; if you’re a devoted sun-worshipper who wants to spend every minute of your vacation on a beach; if you seek immersion in a culture; if you’re the type of person who has to be on the go every minute; etc, etc, etc… a cruise is not for you.

If you understand the comprises you are going to be making, you’re going to get big bang for your vacation dollars on a cruise!

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Bob
Time January 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Kuki – another well done blog. The more I cruise the more I agree with THREE and would add that you are at the complete “mercy” of the captain as to whether you will actually visit the scheduled ports.

While a very high percentage of cruises complete their itinerary exactly as published, I do sympathize with with those cruisers who had their heart set on visiting port XYZ and did not make it for some reason over which they had no control. And yes, I know the cruise contract gives the line all rights and you none, but I think it remains one of cruising’s dirty little secrets.

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time January 5, 2012 at 5:58 am

Dirty little secrets aside, there are valid reasons for skipping or alternating ports, captains or home office directive. We as passengers are assured of the whys and the wherefores, BUT we never get the correct answer nor are we compensated (I for one do not look for such remissions nor expect any) BUT passngers do. Why are we at the mercy of such shortcomings?

A passenger can ask twelve or 100 crew members or staff members and get different answers, for sure. And that is about it. No body is going to give reasons or admisions.

It is not about all cruise lines, as some ships in which I have sailed have graciously remedied and righted similar situations, and that is good. Rare but good.

One thing that really bugs me is cabin size, whereby the balcony/verandah is included in the cabins square footage. A mere few list balcony size aside from cabin size.

The world is not perfect, in reality, nothing is. Cruise lines are no different. I always say, READ THE BROCHURE, CHECK ALL CRUISE LINES ON LINE and most importantly,. READ THE REVIEWS from actual PASSENGERS.

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