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Old June 28th, 2010, 08:30 AM
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Default Is Cruising Too Complicated?

Last weekend I was at a family get together and the topic of travel came up. Of course cruising was the highlight of the topic.

The interesting thing when speaking to the group of about a dozen people was that many of them either had no desire to take a cruise, preferring standard land or air travel to a particular destination. Those that had researched a cruise were overwhelmed and found it too time consuming by how much they needed to know in order to make a decision of when, what ship, what cabin, how much to spend, how to dress and how to get to the port. They also believed that there was too little time in port.

These were all professional people, with good incomes, fairly well traveled and between 40 and 65 years old.

I'm wondering that if this very small demographic is put off by cruising then is this a reflection of the majority of Americans. I personally believe it is.

If I'm correct what do you believe can be done to make cruising something more appealing?

I would like to see:

1. Better trained Travel Agents
2. More of an All-Inclusive pricing structure. To heck with the $399 lead in pricing. Tell people what they will actually be paying.
3. More overnights in port.
4. More use of Cruisemates for research.

What are your ideas?

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Old June 28th, 2010, 09:28 AM
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Hi Mike,
All excellent points, especially about the pricing. Many people that have never cruised have no idea about the tip structure, I almost wish they would include that in the price, but that is another topic...

Most first time cruisers would like to know before, exactly what is included and what is extra, we all know the major lines nickel and dime you to death, so that is another point.

I personally like the planning part, all leads up to an exceptional vacation, just takes a little homework. You'd do the same for a land vacation or traveling by car, just takes a little planning.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 09:36 AM
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Donna,

About the research part. One person, who has traveled quite a bit, commented that they really don't want to spend a week of time researching what cruise to take and then another week of time researching what to do once they are on the cruise.

My response was that the up front research on "which" cruise to take is the most important. You can just go with the flow or book a few ship's excursions after you've made the final booking.

Afterward I did think about how much time I have put into research and if I didn't love cruising so much I would really be boggled by the thousands of hours I've spent researching cruises. My wife has commented on my "obsession" a few times.

Take care,
Mike
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Old June 28th, 2010, 11:21 AM
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Mike,
Like you, I enjoy doing the "research" before booking a cruise. Guess there are others that just don't want to spend the time??

I can also certainly understand why someone that has never cruised before is faced with so many decisions, ships, cruiseline, itinary, etc....I think once you've cruised it becomes easier and you know what you like in a cruise and can find one easily.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 11:38 AM
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I don't think a cruise necessarily requires that much more research than any other vacation. If you're leaving the country you are still going to need to decide WHERE you are going, figure out your flight, etc..... You could actually have MORE to research if you are looking at many different hotels/resorts. I guess I just find it very strange that anyone would find it cumbersome to "research things to do for fun"!!! But even if you do, why not find a great TA and tell them what you're looking for and let them do the work? I think the more honest answer is that a lot of people are afraid of change and/or afraid to try something new. They are certainly missing out!
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Old June 28th, 2010, 12:43 PM
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Interesting topic Mike - cruising is the only type vacation I take that has a specified dress code.

Perhaps the internet has changed the way we all perceive vacation planning. It feels like I spent more time researching pre & post cruise hotels than I did in choosing our cruise.

Twenty years ago I would have gone to a TA who would have done most of the leg work - presented me a few options and I would have happily selected between them.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 01:35 PM
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Mike this is a very good topic. I found that for our first cruise and since deciding on which cruise to take really was not that much research but once booked then the research started. I am the one of us that looks up info about the places we are going and tgo me that is both fun and at times fustrating. But I would never quit doing it.

I do agree with IslandLover about no matter what type of vacation research is the probably about the same.

Right now I am doing research for our cruise next year. It will be the first time we will cruise from a port not in FL. So while choosing the cruise was easy trying to figure out where to stay the night before and how many days after to stay to be able to see more of the area is taking time. But fun in doing the research. I don't need to worry about flights ans the drive to and from is not that bad, only about 6 hours but just enough to want to stay the night before.

I do agree with you Mike in what would help with getting non cruisers that are thinking about cruising.

If the different cruise lines had a good intro to cruising on thier line on their websites with a non detail overview of what is covered and and it would be nice if the lines would at least include sodas in the price of a cruise. It seems that that is one thing that really surprises people who are thinking about cruising, how few drinks are actually included inthe price.

I would like to see more people respond to this.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 01:51 PM
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Mike, oooohhhh this topic is right up our alley! Firstly I think Cruisemates has made researching, and getting friendly help..a pleasant way to do so. Other than specific pricing and booking issues, we can answer many questions about ports that travel agents, many times, have never visited.

Since we all here, are proud cruise a holics..we forget that there are people out there who don't care for the research part, that's what they go to a ta for..many people I can bet, think that the price they get from one agency, will be the exact price they would get from another, so why make 19 calls or go to ten sites!

I would like all agencys, brick and mortar, and online, to give quotes, with port charges and tax included..I know I always ask for the TOTAL price.

Maybe we could ask Nancy, our group ta for our cruises, or another well versed ta to come to our chat room, for a special cruise chat to answer any questions our Cruisemates might have..in this informal setting, we could get answers, and, help the uninitiated cruiser...I will supply all the wine, and chips and dip
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Old June 28th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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Trip has brought up something that really surprised us when we first look at booking in the States, the prices looked wonderful, then we found out that port charges & taxes had to be added on, this got even more confusing when we learned that different States have different tax rules, they finally did our heads in.

Over here both the bricks & mortar and websites give the complete 'getting you onboard' price, with many throwing in OBC, free car parking, or coach transfers.

There are very few cruise lines over here that run an 'all inclusive' operation. The ones that do tend to be the budget party ships.

The thing that really bugs us is the 'unstructured' tipping rules. Ok in the UK they are normally left to the passengers' discression, but can range from only a few GBP per day to quite a bit. The worst example I saw recently was a 3* ship charging more than Cunard recommend.
It would be nice if a site (hello CruiseMates) listed ALL the cruise lines tipping policies so that everyone had a point of reference.

There are a few lines (such as Swan Hellenic) who quote their price, rarely discount it, and for that price include all tips, tours, tour escort tips, entrance fees, as well as wines with your meal on the Captain's nights.

Oh well, in a perfect world

Alan & Katrina
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Old June 28th, 2010, 04:42 PM
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In talking recently to a woman who cruised many, many years ago her and to others say "they get sea sick"..and had cruised once before... y ears ago..There is no convincing people that ships have better stabilizers and even in rough seas you barely notice motion.. My first positive is that all in all a cruise is the the most economical way to vacation.. except for the air fare and hotels..My last cruise was a fraction of what a land vacation would have cost us via charter to a mid-price all inclusive resort. Absolutely, positively agree about having overnights at ports, especially in Europe..but I would not want to pay for a week or two of drinks... we rarely have more than one or two drinks a day..occasionally wine at dinner.. As for the tax differences.. yes, I agree.. it doesn't seem fair.. I envy those in the South who can pick up a cruise at the very last moment when we here in the Northeast must plan ahead with hotels and that horror..flights..
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Old June 28th, 2010, 05:23 PM
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As a fellow Brit I can confirm that ''Kanda'' is right about the way it works here, I think that at least soft drinks could be included as well as the "service charge" leaving actual tips to the passenger. One thing people say to me is ''you may see a lot of places but you are not there long enough'' can't really argue with that...People also seem to think you are cooped up & encouraged to ''have fun''. Dress has seldom been raised as an issue.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 05:36 PM
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I used to think planning a cruise was very straightforward - even after I booked my first and second one!

NOW, I realize how complicated the entire endeavor is .... thanks to you all here at CM!

Had I known how much I didn't know I might have gotten paralysis by analysis.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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Mike, this is absolutely a great thread you have started. I absolutely love your suggestion about more overnights at ports. Time flys by way to quickly at some of them.
It is true, trying to get people to want to cruise again that had bad experiences 15 to 20 years ago is a pretty tough sell. Like night and day with the beautiful new ships out now. They are missing out.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 08:18 PM
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I've been vacationing for 45 years but I've only cruised 3 times .The majority of my friends and relatives never cruise
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Old June 28th, 2010, 11:28 PM
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As we all know, cruising has and still is becoming more and more popular for vacations, especially for families. However, I do think people tend to make things more complicated than they have to be.
When I book a cruise ( I have one coming up in Sept. on RCCL.)
I use the very simple method of when, where, what line and what cat. of cabin. When I have that all down, I call my T.A. and in a matter of a few minutes I'm under deposit. I figure out when I want to go, where the ports are I want to visit, what cruise line takes me there and of the ones that do, which one I want to sail on and what particular cabin I want. Simple.

But I have people all the time ask me questions such as " how much does it cost to go on a cruise ?" Which line is the best--I've heard Carnival is bad, Carnival is good, RCCL is good / bad, etc, etc. I was at the barber shop today and the barber knew we cruise pretty often and asked me when we were going again. I said in Sept. on RCCL. He wanted to know the approx. cost , as he has sailed once with them years ago. I told him and he thought that was really high. Upon questioning him, I learned it was about 20 years ago that he had cruised and he had an inside cabin down by the boiler room. I explained we had a balcony and that made some difference.
I have just about given up on trying to explain to people about cruising, the costs, etc. as there are so many variables, such as time of year, the cruise line, the type cabin, even the ports, as the port charges can be different from one port to another, etc.
But as I said, some people can complicate anything-- if you want to go to Vegas or even Florida for a vacation, you still have to figure the basics of when you can go, where or what part of Fla. or wherever,, what type accommodations, etc.
So, I guess my answer would be that cruising itself is not so complicated --people make it complicated for themselves.
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Old June 29th, 2010, 07:27 AM
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Ron,
You could have something there...For people that have never cruised, there are lots of decisions to be made and it does take some checking and a good travel agent. I've heard many times, someone goes on their first cruise and hates it. In most cases, they've just chosen the wrong cruise...
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Old June 29th, 2010, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron
So, I guess my answer would be that cruising itself is not so complicated --people make it complicated for themselves.
Ron,

I agree with this statement. Often I see people obsessing so much about their cabin (I have done it too so I am also guilty) the price they paid, the extra costs and what to wear that they become so rapped up in the minutia that once they are onboard they don't need a vacation from their lives they need a vacation from planning.

I'm at the stage where I put far more time into researching the ports, if they are new, then I do the ship. I have to be truthful and say that my primary reason for cruising is the destinations and not the ships. Because of this the ship becomes secondary to me. I find an itinerary I like and then book a balcony cabin, or above, that I can afford and then spend my time finding private tours and learning about where I'm going. I really don't care if it is a Carnival, Royal Caribbean, HAL, Princess, Azamara or other cruise line. I know that the basic experience will be the same.

Take care,
Mike
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Old June 29th, 2010, 07:46 PM
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One thing I learned never to do, discuss the price you paid for either a cruise cabin or an airline seat. The prices do vary and depending on when they were purchased. I don't want to know what someone else got their air for, when I may have paid hundreds more.
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Old June 29th, 2010, 08:07 PM
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Donna, I agree about not talking about what you paid. I have had people ask me and I always say that I am happy with what I paid without ever stating a price. And I have never asked what anyone else has paid.
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Old June 29th, 2010, 08:17 PM
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I guess I'm an "old fogey", but it would never occur to me to ask what someone (unless they were very close friends or family, and even then...) paid for anything !

If someone ask's I usually just look at them and say "why in the world would you ask me that?".
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Old June 29th, 2010, 08:18 PM
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People do ask....Not me, don't want to know that someone else saved a lot and I didn't...
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Old June 30th, 2010, 09:21 AM
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The first cruise I went on was more complicated to plan because of my ex. I swear its a huge people factor. When I took out that element, it was so easy.

time - check, ships available - check, itinerary - check.. (all of this over a two day period) two phone calls to Marty and we're booked.

I've never asked what other people paid and I would never ask. I don't really care as long as everyone is having a great time.
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Old July 1st, 2010, 05:30 PM
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As a never been on a cruise in the midst of planning our first family cruise for the fall I can chime in from this point of view--

In a way yes it is somewhat overwhelming. Im a person that researches and evaluates and reads up on as much stuff as I can when making a "large" purchase--even a budget cruise for a family of 4 can be pretty pricey so it does qualify as a "large" purchase in my eyes.

I have found message boards like cruisemates to be extremely enlightening in helping with questions I would never have thought of that have the potential to really make or break the vacay in general...tips that as veteran cruisers you have been there done that and learned that use naive first timers are clueless about. At the same time all of the info I do learn from message boards like this one is very overwhelming and has put a lot of buyers remorse in me. I find myself doing a lot of "I wish we would have been on here reading this stuff BEFORE we booked" (not that we are not within our cancel timeframe still as we are) but I wish I had not gotten so excited for the trip (or told my kids about it)

What to do in port is by far the most stressful part of this process for me right now. I wanted to just lounge on a beach in Cabo but to find out it will cost our family of 4 $400 to do so for 4 hours is price tag shocking to say the least and thats at just 1 port not considering any shopping or additional eating or drinking we may want to indulge in. So I completely agree that the way they rope you in with these low booking prices just to smack you with every single little thing otherwise is pretty painful the first time around...obviously once you cruise some and get to know the things that are worth the money and that are necessary this will become easier but right off the bat for new planners its very overwhelming.

and thats just for off ship stuff, I am just barely venturing around to figure out any on board stuff we would be paying for (ie specialty dining, alcohol, photos, soda etc) Its def a lot less "all inclusive" then people make it out to be.

Anyways thats my view point so far ;-)
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Old July 1st, 2010, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
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What to do in port is by far the most stressful part of this process for me right now. I wanted to just lounge on a beach in Cabo but to find out it will cost our family of 4 $400 to do so for 4 hours is price tag shocking to say the least and thats at just 1 port not considering any shopping or additional eating or drinking we may want to indulge in.
J2,

In Cabo I suggest that you take a reasonably short walk to the FinnesTerra resort. They allow cruise passengers and they have beautiful pools, a nice beach, reasonably priced drinks and food. My wife and I went there last February and had a great afternoon. Just be aware that you need to walk up a fairly long hill to get to the entrance. They do have a shuttle from bottom to the top but it only runs every half hour or so. It's a bit of a walk but my pace-maker equipped heart and unsteady walk handled it with no problem.

Just go to Senior Frogs, after you get off the tender, take a left and walk out of the shopping complex, across the street and up the hill.

This might save you a few dollars and it's much better than the public beach.

Take care,
Mike
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Old July 1st, 2010, 05:53 PM
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J2 tyco
Don't worry about it is the first thing!! You don't need to go to speciality restaurants or expensive shore trips, sorry if anyone gave you the idea that cruises are more "Inclusive" then they actually are. I recall having a long & unpleasant "discussion" on another site trying to explain that cruises were not all inclusive.
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Old July 1st, 2010, 11:31 PM
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With all due respect, it isn't that the cruise line " roped " you in and then added all these other things onto your price--- You pay a certain price to the cruise line for accommodations, food, taking you wherever and back again. There's plenty of free food available 24 hours a day on a ship-- I never use the specialty restaurants on a ship---we eat in the buffet for breakfast and lunch, sometimes room service for a snack or so and the main dining room for dinner. This is all included and as far as the shore tours, going to beaches, eating ashore, etc. that's all a personal choice one has to make and has nothing to do with the cruise lines.
I agree with one thing--spending $400 for 4 hours at the beach is far too much and suggest you do some more research--that's not the cruise line's fault if you do spend that much for a few hours at the beach.
As far as on board spending, that again is a personal choice--stop and think about how many photos you really need to take-- how much do you need to waste in the casino, etc, how much alcohol do you really need to drink, etc.
It's a cheap vacation when everything is factored in. Things such as port fees and taxes are beyond the control of the cruiselines and are just part of it. I do realize with a family of four it can run into quite a bit of money--all the more reason to really think about what you are going to do ashore, as well as what you really need to spend aboard.
But as I said, $ 400.00 for 4 hours at the beach would be off my list so fast the ink wouldn't be dry!
I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time and come back ready to sail again!
Happy sails to you !!
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 01:19 AM
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Wow, I would never think of taking a cruise as being complicated. Now planning a three week trip to Europe by myself involving multiple countries, multiple B&Bs, trains and modifications to flight plans - that was complicated.

But when I want to do something easy, I just pick out a time and a cruise and go! And I have found cruising to be one of the easiest ways to plan vacation for multiple people. You find a cruise, get the price, tell everybody that's what you're doing and then just make sure everyone going has a passport.

Must really be dependent on individual preferences. In my opinion, cruising has to be one of the easiest, funnest ways to plan and take a trip. You don't have to move your luggage from place to place, you go from port to port and just have to make sure you get back on board in time before the ship departs. Probably the hardest thing is trying to repack that suitcase on the last day when you've been drinking.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 02:48 AM
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You are right it is personal preference to do anything above and beyond what is included in the general booking of the cruise.

To be fair I think it is the cruise lines "fault" that 4 hours at the beach would be $400 they are the ones that charge $90 per person for this excursion and make you paranoid beyond belief of being left behind in a foreign country if you consider finding and planning your own excursions.

That said I was giving input from a first timer on a topic that seemed to ask first timers their thoughts so there you have it. It may not be the way you see cruising or the way you would approach it today or back when you were also a first timer but obviously since this topic came up in discussion we aren't the only ones that feel the process is a bit overwhelming.
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 02:17 PM
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Interesting thread, Mike, thank you for starting it.

Based on what's posted here, and on other cruise message boards, I believe some people over plan and over think their cruise. While I agree a cruise ship or cruise line has to match up with your personality and travel likes and dislikes, I think some people think there's one perfect ship for them, when in fact there are several ships and itineraries that would suit them.

Especially for first timers, they don't have another cruise to compare it to, so you've got to start somewhere. Thinking back on my first cruise, ignorance was bliss.

The reasons I've heard for not cruising are: I'd be bored, I don't want to be trapped on a ship for a whole week, I'm claustrophobic, I have to be able to see land, I've watched Titanic 20 times, a cruise costs too much, cruising is for rich people and I wouldn't fit in, and I don't want to dress up everyday.

On my first cruise, even though I was on a relatively small ship (Statendam), I was amazed at how big it was, similar to a small town. I think a lot of people don't realize how much space there is, and how much there is to do.

For a long time, I didn't know that cruise ships made port stops. I thought if someone went on a Caribbean cruise, the ship just cruised among the islands, and the people onboard ate, gambled, and played shuffleboard.

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Old July 2nd, 2010, 05:20 PM
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I agree, any trip involves some planning. I will be cruising for the 3rd time in December. Each cruise has been a real enjoyment. The first time, would have been a shock had it not been for cruisemates. Just reading cruisemates gave me insight about onboard credits, what was included in my fare, and general knowledge about cruising. This year the family (children and grands) will be going. We will be on a ship we have not sailed before, so you can bet I am getting my research on and reading cruisemates. The deck plans help you to know where you want to go once onboard. It is also good to have a travel agent who has sailed on the ship you are considering. They know the best locations for you. I like the middle of the deck. If you have not cruised before, it is a great way to vacation.
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