Go Back   CruiseMates Cruise Community and Forums > Cruise Deals. Cruise Questions and Answers! > First-Time Cruisers
Register Forgot Password?

First-Time Cruisers Novices ask here & No question is too silly!

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old September 20th, 2012, 09:35 AM
Senior Member
Cruise Maniac
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Kandahar, Afghanistan
Posts: 124
Default Quick overview of cruise lines

I've gotten a lot of great suggestions of things I might like, but I don't have any experience with the lines themselves. I'm wondering if anyone could put up a general overview of the lines featuring:

Common ship size (in terms of passengers) Yes, I know lines have differing sizes, but perhaps the "usual" cruise for that line would be x,000 passengers

Food: Do they have a specialty? Are there things that might be considered higher end (prime rib, lobster, king crab, caviar) generally served or only on special nights. Quality?

Children: (lots for them to do / cruise which doesn't cater to them / not common)

Dress up: Common clothes, business casual, tuxedo night, generally dressed up?)

Shipboard activities: Probably everyone has a workout room. Anything special?

Nickles and dimes: Are they always adding to your bill / are there specials like drink packages that you can buy to save money / or do you get a lot of extras without extra bills? Laundry and internet are both of special interest to me, since they seem to be common ways to pad your bill.

Standard routes: I expect most lines cover the Caribbean and/or Mediterranean, but does the line have route(s) which aren't common?

Time in port: Leisurely / Just enough so you want to come back / So quick you weren't sure if it was worth the trouble to stop.

Cost: Not only $/night, but bang for the buck. I understand there are 4 classes, but I neither remember the class names nor know which lines fit them.

PROs:

CONs:

Did I miss anything important?
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
  #2 (permalink)  
Old September 20th, 2012, 01:13 PM
Paul Motter's Avatar
Administrator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: in my office!
Posts: 10,888
Send a message via AIM to Paul Motter
Default Picking Your First Cruise Ship

Here is an article wrote not too long ago that might help:

Picking Your First Cruise Ship


A guide to helping first-time cruisers differentiate and select their first cruise line and cruise ship.

03.13.12


How to select your first cruise ship


This is where first-time cruisers probably want the most advice, and rightfully so. Do your homework, but also realize that at some point you have to make a decision and pick one line. Just remember that you will definitely learn more during your first cruise than you could ever learn during a lifetime of reading about cruise ships.

In general, almost any cruise line has better food and service than you will find in an average restaurant or hotel. In addition, you get entertainment that on many cruise ships includes Broadway-caliber entertainers, first run movies, cabaret, rock or blues music, comedy and more. You also get free 24-hour room service and more than a maid, you get a room steward who cleans and makes up your stateroom twice each day - cleaning each morning and a turndown service every night.


Each cruise comes with food available 24-hours and entertainment included in the cruise fare. While you are onboard most cruise ships you will have to pay extra for any alcohol or soda beverages as well as gratuities to certain crewmembers who serve you personally. The cost of drinks is similar to a hotel, while gratuities average about $10 per passenger per day in total. All onboard costs are settled on the last day of the cruise and can be charged to a prearranged credit card account similar to the method of hotels.


Cruise ships come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny "expedition vessels" that only carry 30 to 50 passengers to "mega-ships" that can carry well over 5000 passengers plus close to 2000 crewmembers at the same time.


So - how do you know which one is right for you? We will look at this question very closely and I urge you not to jump to any conclusions or pre-conceived notions based on what you may have heard about certain cruise lines. Also - watch out for negative reader-contributed cruise reviews you read online. In many cases these people had one or two things go wrong but decided to list every little negative thing they could think to say in order to "make their case."


There are several different factors to consider for any given cruise ship; size, cost, age and amenities. The cruise line itself is the first consideration, but keep in mind that within each cruise line there can be a vast variety of vessels, smaller ones that are 20 years old, and brand new ones with all of the biggest and best features.

Size: Today's cruise ships vary in size between 30,000-tons to 220,000-tons. I realize "size" is a vague concept to non-experienced cruisers. We use gross tonnage to represent ship size because it is actually a measure of the interior volume of a ship - not how much it actually weighs. A 100,000 ton cruise ship could be about 900 feet long, 14 decks tall and 90 feet wide. It will carry about 3000 passengers more or less depending on the cruise line.

This is a rough way of defining size:

Under 20,000-tons = smallest
20,000 to 49,000 tons = small
50,000 to 75,000 tons = medium small
75,000 to 100,000 tons = average
101,000 to 120,000 tons - medium large
121,000 to 149,000 tons - large
150,000 tons + = "mega-ship"
220,000 tons = world's largest ships

To be clear, the
(1) smallest ships include river boats and older "yacht-like" luxury vessels.
(2) Represents some of the newer luxury vessels introduced in the last few years.
(3) Includes some of the older (1990s) ships of the more popular fleets such as Disney, Holland America and Princess and
(4) Represents some of the newer ships (early 2000s) of those same fleets. (5) Includes most of the newer ships from Carnival and Princess.
(6) Includes some of the newest ships from Carnival as well as some of the ships currently on order for NCL and Princess to arrive in 2013. It also includes the newer ships from Celebrity, although the different is that while a Carnival ship may carry over 4000 guests a Celebrity ship of this size only has 2850 berths for more space per passenger.
(7) Includes only the largest ships from NCL and Royal Caribbean and
(8) only has two ships, Oasis, and Allure of the Seas.


This brings up an important point; size alone is not as much a factor as space per passenger. This is called the "passenger-space ratio." The "PSR" is a somewhat good indicator of "luxury" but one should not get carried away because it is an inherently faulty measurement due to its over-simplicity. It is based dividing the gross tonnage by the number of berths, but it does not exclude crew and technical areas of the ship, nor does it count extra people in staterooms (which can be anywhere from none to thousands).


One of the biggest factors that come along with size is the variety of activities aboard. Simply put, larger ships have a greater variety of onboard activities including;


Sports: tennis, miniature golf, basketball, a fitness center and spa facilities for massage, facials and haircuts. Some larger ships even offer acupuncture and wet and dry saunas.


Showtime Entertainment: on larger ships entertainment is generally much more sophisticated and impressive than on smaller ships, with Broadway caliber shows and well-known comedians and other performers from stage and screen.


Dining Options: Larger ships also provide a much larger variety of dining options although that does not necessarily mean better food. For example, one of the larger ships in the cruise fleet, Norwegian Epic, has 21 restaurants onboard but only a handful of them would qualify as gourmet dining. On the other hand, some of the most expensive ships in the "luxury" category will be smaller and will only have two or three dining options onboard, but each of them will offer what is considered among the finest cuisine at sea. Children's Facilities: larger ships usually offer special programs for kids of all ages separated into distinct groups.


Casino: larger ships will offer more casino games and a greater variety of slot machines.

Night Spots: larger ships will generally offer a number of nighttime entertainment venues including disco style dancing, live entertainment such as rock or blues bars, comedy clubs, karaoke and sing-along piano bars.


Movie Theaters: the new trend on larger cruise ships these days is you have not only movie theaters, but the latest state-of-the-art 3-D technology. Some ships have even taken this a step further to include theaters with seat motion, air blowers, ankle ticklers and back pokers for the fully immersive theater experience.


Waterslides: many of the largest ships have waterslides for the kids such as the new Disney ships which have water rafting rides 765 feet long. Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines ships also have waterslides.

Obviously, the widest variety of activities available comes on the largest cruise ships. This makes them destinations unto themselves even though they generally visit the same ports of call as smaller cruise ships. So, while itineraries of any given cruise are always one of the first considerations for first-time cruiser it is also commonly heard by first-time cruisers that they didn't realize how much they would enjoy the ship itself.


Re-engineering older ships is a recent trend by cruise lines. The idea is to take some of the newer features that have proven most popular on new ships and add them to older ships during remodeling. This has been done to all of the older Carnival ships and many of the newer ones. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Holland America are also in the process of upgrading their older ships.

It is important to note that larger ships offer a much smoother ride in the ocean while a very small ship of 10,000-tons will rock with every motion of the ocean it encounters. A very large mega-ship of over 100,000-tons will glide through the water with a much slower and less noticeable rocking motion you may go an entire cruise and not feel any movement at all.


In general, more expensive provide more space per passenger first of all. Luxury cruise ships tend to be smaller, however, it is only logical that smaller cruise ships cannot provide the variety of activities found on larger, more mainstream cruise lines. And so size is often a matter of personal preference related to how much a person wants to get involved with the activities offered onboard. It is assumed that luxury cruisers prefer a more "yacht like" experience, meaning there are fewer distractions and more of a focus on quiet time with a closer connection to the sea. In fact, small luxury cruise ships generally offer a very quiet environment, the opposite of the larger "ship as the destination" experience.


Understanding Categories. There are generally four categories of cruise ships in the industry starting with the least expensive known as "contemporary" or what I refer to as mainstream, followed by premium, upscale and luxury. There used to be a "budget" category of cruise lines, mostly sailing refurbished older ships from the ocean liner era. These have all but disappeared as competitive pricing made them unprofitable and it became too costly to comply with newer safety requirements.

Contemporary. This category includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Line and Norwegian Cruise Line. These lines generally offer the cheapest cruises available although one can often find more "premium" cruise lines selling cruises for about the same prices, depending on the ships. Of course, these are the largest cruise ships in the business with Royal Caribbean being the leader in the size category. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are the two largest cruise ships in the world by far at 220,000 tons apiece.


It seems a little bit counterintuitive that these largest and most active ships with the most activities are operated for the most cost conscious consumers by the mainstream cruise lines, but there is frankly much more to do on the larger ships for those who enjoy the sort of activities they offer.

Contemporary ships fall into the "ship as the destination" category unlike smaller, more expensive cruise ships that excel at destination-oriented cruising with the focus on the ports of call. If your goal in taking a cruise is to see the world then a small ship is much more convenient. You will be able to get on and off the ship very quickly and have smaller and more exclusive tours available.


Premium. The next step up from contemporary brings "premium cruise lines" where we find Holland America, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruise Line, Cunard line and Disney. There are differences between all of these cruise lines; for example, Holland America offers smaller ships with fewer passengers while Princess cruise ships are larger and carry more passengers. Celebrity Cruises has newer cruise ships of larger size but fewer passengers per ship for more space onboard.


Obviously, Disney Cruise Line is in the category of its own offering family oriented cruises with extensive activities for kids six months to 18 years old. Disney also has adult-only areas but the focus is on technology and family entertainment, even in the dining rooms.


Cunard line is also practically a category unto itself with three ships including the Queen Mary II, the world's largest ocean liner ever built. Queen Mary II offers a very distinct and classic ocean voyage much like the famous upper-class scenes from the movie Titanic. All Cunard ships offer two separate classes where the top category is considered a luxury cruise experience while the lower category is more in keeping with premium cruises.

Upscale. The next step up encompasses a wide variety of ships in the "upscale" category. The upscale cruise lines include Azamara, Oceania, and Windstar. These are smaller cruise lines offering smaller ships that are very destination oriented. Almost all of these will be found in the Mediterranean every summer offering port intensive cruises with a new destination every day. The focus here is on fine dining and very comfortable nighttime accommodations to get you ready to see a new destination the next day. Two notable exceptions in this category are the new ships from Oceania; Marina and Riviera. These two ships are larger than average for this category and each offers an excellent dining experience at least on par if not better than most of the luxury cruise lines. Marina and Riviera are two of my favorite ships.


Luxury. The most well-known luxury cruise lines are Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Crystal Cruises. There are a few other independent luxury cruise operators that are niche oriented; SeaDream, Travel Dynamics International and the Paul Gauguin.


Luxury cruise lines offer a "yacht like" onboard experience meaning a focus on quiet activities, very few announcements and more personalized service options such as butler's who will bring the same cuisine as served in the dining room to your stateroom. Most of the luxury cruise lines are affiliated with award winning chefs and purveyors of fresh ingredients to prepare their recipes. Most of the luxury cruise lines now include alcohol and gratuities in the cost of the cruise. Of course, the price of the cruise goes up proportionately. Luxury cruisers are mostly wealthy individuals who are smart enough to understand the price of a luxury cruise is not a value proposition, however they are willing to pay extra for the convenience of the inclusive service provided. Notably, within the luxury cruise sector, Regent Seven Seas stands out as a cruise line that also includes regular shore excursions and pre-cruise hotel stays before each cruise included in the price of the cruise.

To sum up; the main differentiators of these categories include the quality of the food, what is included in the cruise fare, the onboard entertainment and sports facilities, the comfort and convenience of the staterooms and the level of service provided by the onboard staff. There are dozens of different cruise lines and many have several categories of ships. It can take a long time to fully understand the vast variety of offerings within the cruise industry but a great deal can be learned just by taking your first cruise. By the end you should know what is most important to you and you can adjust to a smaller or larger ship and pay more or less for the food and service depending on your personal tastes. At some point most cruisers have just a few cruise lines that they prefer and many cruise with the same cruise line all the time.



Read more: Picking a Cruise Line and Ship
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old September 20th, 2012, 08:44 PM
storybookcruises.com's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Ashburn, VA
Posts: 1,510
Default

This is why it's so very important to work with a good travel agent, especially one who is a Cruise Specialist. They can answer all your questions and help you to find the right cruise for you based on your needs, lifestyle, and budget. You can spend hours and hours researching, but a good Cruise Specialist can make it alot easier for you. Plus, their services are free, so it makes sense to utilize their expertise and knowledge.

Keep in mind that everyone has an opinion and what one person likes, another will dislike. So stay away from 'recommendations'. A good Cruise Specialist will provide as much information as you need to make a decision based on what's right for you and not what's right for them or someone else.

The information that Paul has provided is a wonderful starting point, but you'll have many many questions and you need someone who will take the time to answer all of them. And do NOT book it through the cruise line or one of these big online sites. Whenever you call them, you're dealing with someone who is not a travel agent, works in a call center, has been there less than six months, and has never even seen a ship or been to any of the ports. Their information is extremely limited and they're only interested in making a sale and not in providing service. A Cruise Specialist will make sure you get the best price and has your best interest at heart. Plus, if you have any problems, they represent you and have contacts not available to passengers.

Sorry, didn't mean for that to sound like a sales pitch, but having done this for so long, I really hate to see new cruisers get caught up with all the hype you find on the internet while being confused with all the information.

Pete
__________________
Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old September 20th, 2012, 09:20 PM
Kuki's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Right here :)
Posts: 22,384
Send a message via AIM to Kuki
Default

Quote:
And do NOT book it through the cruise line or one of these big online sites. Whenever you call them, you're dealing with someone who is not a travel agent, works in a call center, has been there less than six months, and has never even seen a ship or been to any of the ports.
While I always recommend cruisers use qualified cruise specialists to book their cruises, I think a blanket statement such as above is truly disingenuous. and wrong!

One might find some one who has not ever been on a ship.. and all the rest, but to even imply all of the above quote always applies just seems like overzealous marketing.

There are some outstanding travel agents, and also some who are just out to make a sale, and aren't interested in providing any follow up service.

I would never consider labeling all of them as the latter because I may have encountered one who qualified.
__________________
C U @ C,
Kuki
CruiseMates' Staff Writer
- The Kuki Side of Cruising-
A new Blog post every Wednesday
http://www.cruisemates.com/blog/author/kuki/
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old September 20th, 2012, 10:06 PM
storybookcruises.com's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Ashburn, VA
Posts: 1,510
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
While I always recommend cruisers use qualified cruise specialists to book their cruises, I think a blanket statement such as above is truly disingenuous. and wrong!

One might find some one who has not ever been on a ship.. and all the rest, but to even imply all of the above quote always applies just seems like overzealous marketing.

There are some outstanding travel agents, and also some who are just out to make a sale, and aren't interested in providing any follow up service.

I would never consider labeling all of them as the latter because I may have encountered one who qualified.
As posted by CLIA (the Cruise Lines International Association), the average person answering the phone with the cruise line or an online site:

1) Works in a call center
2) Is not a travel agent
3) Has worked for the company for less than 6 months
4) Has never even seen a ship or been to any of the ports

Not my words, but theirs. If you want to call them wrong, go right ahead.

But call it what you like, this is directly from the association that all the cruise lines belong to and any reputable travel agent belongs to. And while there may be some who do not fall within their statements, their investigation showed this information to be more true than false.

And I did not say nor imply ALL travel agents are this way. My suggestion was to find a reputable agent who does not fall within this category. And there are alot of very reputable agents and a great number of wonderful cruise specialists. CLIA is just referring to those who work at the call centers of the cruise lines and large online sites, and I was simply passing along their information. Not 'overzealous marketing', but just posting the facts as stated by the largest cruise industry association.

Overzealous marketing is like one website posts; Save 75% off last minute cruises. They don't offer anything that anyone else can't offer and they make it sound like they are so much cheaper. If you read the fine print, the 75% off is referring to the brochure rate. No one, and I repeat, no one sells cruises for the brochure rate, not even the cruise line. And since the majority of the mass market cruise lines require everyone to sell the same cruise for the same price, their claim of 75% off last minute cruises is tandamount to false advertising. Yet alot of first-time cruisers belief it. Not that's overzealous marketing!

It's like going to an auto mechanic and asking him to work on your motorcycle or airplane. They may all have wheels and an engine, but they are entirely different machines. As with anything else, it's best to see a specialist. And when dealing directly with the cruise lines or these large online sites, they represent themselves, not the passenger, and are interested in your money. An agent represents you and is interested in your business.

Pete
__________________
Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Old September 20th, 2012, 10:36 PM
Kuki's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Right here :)
Posts: 22,384
Send a message via AIM to Kuki
Default

CLIA is the marketing arm for the cruise industry, and they do a good job of marketing. They do offer the accreditation for travel agents, and that is way better than using totally untrained agents.

However they have no regulatory control over any travel agent members. That is the biggest issue I have with the industry; with the exception of laws of the land, there is no regulation or oversight of travel agents.

In fact there are travel agencies that are members of CLIA which employ both/either inside and outside home based agents who are not even CLIA accredited.

Despite that, for years I've recommended using trained travel agents over booking direct with the cruise lines every time!

The problem is too many people stumble onto the bad ones, and are then driven to book directly with the cruise lines.
__________________
C U @ C,
Kuki
CruiseMates' Staff Writer
- The Kuki Side of Cruising-
A new Blog post every Wednesday
http://www.cruisemates.com/blog/author/kuki/
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old September 20th, 2012, 11:40 PM
storybookcruises.com's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Ashburn, VA
Posts: 1,510
Default

Absolutely no argument there! Personally, I'm not a big CLIA fan. All they do is offer training to travel agents on how to sell better. Selling does not make one a better travel agent, it just makes one a better seller. Anyone can be a salesman/saleswoman, but it takes someone who cares about their clients to be a good agent. Unfortunately, as with any profession, there will always be a few idiots who give a black eye to the majority of the hardworking reputable agents. And it's too bad the few negative ones will always garner the attention.

The internet has made it easy for those who are only interested in selling to do just that, with little investment and little knowledge of the industry.

But it's not just the online sites.

We were on a cruise once and sat down to eat lunch in the main dining room. Four other people were seated with us and we started the usual small talk and introductions. I asked the lady next to me what she did and she said she was a travel agent. I didn't tell her I was one, but asked how long she had been doing it. She said 20 years. I made the comment that she must have been on a lot of cruises. Imagine my complete surprise when she said this was her first one. I asked her how she could sell something for 20 years that she knew nothing about from personal experience. Her friend chimed in that she was very good at it. I thought to myself that she was very good at lying to people. I asked her who she worked for and she said AAA.

A couple of weeks later, we went to our local AAA to attend a grand opening. While sitting there as they were drawing door prizes, we listened to an 'agent' trying to sell a cruise to a senior couple. She never once listened to what this couple wanted. They wanted to take their family on an upscale cruise to the Mexican Riviera. The agent kept pushing Carnival and never once mentioned anything about any of the other cruise lines offering the same itinerary, including NCL, RCCL, Holland America, Celebrity, and Princess. (This was a few years ago before the problems in Mexico started.) I felt very sorry for the couple and couldn't believe this agent was not providing any other options. When I got home, I looked at my emails to find Carnival was having a special offering an extra $50 bonus commission for Mexican Riviera cruises. Then I realized all the agent was concerned about was the extra commission, not in providing a good service to the client.

I'm not trying to pick on AAA; it was just a coincidence that these two things happened within a couple of weeks and it just happened to have involved the same agency. But it shows how alot of these big places are more interested in selling than in providing service.

But like I said, a few bad apples spoil it for the rest of us.

Pete
__________________
Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old September 22nd, 2012, 02:03 AM
Senior Member
Cruise Maniac
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Kandahar, Afghanistan
Posts: 124
Default

I appreciate the discussion about the gotchas, but I'm one of those people who over-researches everything. Yes, I'll probably go to a cruise specialist when I want to book, but meanwhile I want to have enough knowledge to recognize the options and possibilities.

Highest of my priorities is to avoid crowds, especially children.
Next highest is to eat well. Someone posted in another thread about going to New England to get fresh lobster and not getting it even once. That would really annoy the bejeezus out of me.
Next is I don't want to go where EVERYONE else goes. I want to go to different, out-of-the-way places.
Next highest is not to be rushed around. I want to be able to experience what I see, not hurry to the next destination.
Finally, although I'm sure my choices above move me into the higher classes, I still need to do this on a reasonable budget.

So based on what minimal information I've been able to glean, it looks like Holland America, Azamara, Oceania, Windstar, and niche lines are the most likely to meet my requirements. But it's still hard to tell. If I ever go on a cruise and don't get lobster (or something better) at least twice, I won't be going on that line again. Likewise if I ever go on a cruise and get a headache from the noise, I won't be returning to that line either.

When I talk to a cruise specialist, if they don't at least mention the four lines noted above, then one of us doesn't know what we are talking about. That's why gathering information is important, so you can make a more informed decision about what you are offered.
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Old September 22nd, 2012, 02:07 PM
storybookcruises.com's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Ashburn, VA
Posts: 1,510
Default

You're definitely considering some awesome cruise lines!

However, I would not put Holland America in the same category as Azamara, Oceania, and Windstar. Out of my personal 5-star rating system, they are 5-star cruise lines. Holland, on the other hand, is 4-star. But if you want to consider Holland, then I would seriously consider Celebrity. Just my personal opinion, but I think the food on Celebrity is better and their new Solstice-class ships are outstanding! I would rate them 4.5 stars.

And if you want to consider Azamara, Oceania, and Windstar, depending on your likes and dislikes, you might also want to look at Crystal (considered to be the best in the world), Regent Seven Seas, and Sea Dream Yacht Club.

And lastly, if you want something small, intimate, and unique, you should also take a look at American Cruise Line.

Just some other options for you to consider.

But that's the fun part about cruising is there are so many choices and trying as many as you can.

Pete
__________________
Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Reply With Quote
  #10 (permalink)  
Old September 22nd, 2012, 02:21 PM
Mike M's Avatar
Administrator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: You're Looking At Me
Posts: 23,793
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BionicToad View Post
I appreciate the discussion about the gotchas, but I'm one of those people who over-researches everything. Yes, I'll probably go to a cruise specialist when I want to book, but meanwhile I want to have enough knowledge to recognize the options and possibilities.

Highest of my priorities is to avoid crowds, especially children.
Next highest is to eat well. Someone posted in another thread about going to New England to get fresh lobster and not getting it even once. That would really annoy the bejeezus out of me.
Next is I don't want to go where EVERYONE else goes. I want to go to different, out-of-the-way places.
Next highest is not to be rushed around. I want to be able to experience what I see, not hurry to the next destination.
Finally, although I'm sure my choices above move me into the higher classes, I still need to do this on a reasonable budget.

So based on what minimal information I've been able to glean, it looks like Holland America, Azamara, Oceania, Windstar, and niche lines are the most likely to meet my requirements. But it's still hard to tell. If I ever go on a cruise and don't get lobster (or something better) at least twice, I won't be going on that line again. Likewise if I ever go on a cruise and get a headache from the noise, I won't be returning to that line either.

When I talk to a cruise specialist, if they don't at least mention the four lines noted above, then one of us doesn't know what we are talking about. That's why gathering information is important, so you can make a more informed decision about what you are offered.
I do agree with CP. Holland America isn't in the same category as Azamara, Oceania and Windstar. Holland America may be a good choice, especially if you take one of their longer and more exotic itineraries. I would also recommend Celebrity for the same reasons. Azamara and Oceania are very nice cruise lines but they may fall short for you in activities but will definitely fill the bill for cuisine. However, this will come with a larger price. Holland America and Celebrity will give you, IMO, a much greater "bang for the buck". Then again, if I wasn't paying for the cruise I would take Azamara over Holland America or Celebrity.

Take care,
Mike
__________________
Cruisemates Community Leader/Moderator

"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me

"Fear is the assassin of dreams." ~Me
Reply With Quote
  #11 (permalink)  
Old September 22nd, 2012, 04:22 PM
storybookcruises.com's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Ashburn, VA
Posts: 1,510
Default

I would agree with Mike and suggest Azamara as it's smaller, more intimate, with awesome food, and wonderful crews.

Want something truly unique and awesome? Try Compagnie du Ponant http://en.ponant.com

Pete
__________________
Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!

Last edited by storybookcruises.com; September 22nd, 2012 at 04:30 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #12 (permalink)  
Old September 23rd, 2012, 07:33 AM
Senior Member
Cruise Maniac
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Kandahar, Afghanistan
Posts: 124
Default

Guys, once again I appreciate the suggestions, but this takes me back to the reason I started this thread. As informative as Paul's post was, when you get to the bottom you are no closer to narrowing the field than when you started out. That's why I think a listing by cruise line would be useful. Based on what I have read, here's what I'd put down for some I am considering:

Holland America (Premium class, Food 4 stars, smaller boats mean less variety, but less noise and crowd.)

Celebrity (Premium class, Food 4.5 stars, larger boats, but more space per passenger means lesser crowds and noise. Perhaps at a cost.)

Azamara (Upscale class, Food 5 stars, smaller boats mean less variety, but less noise and crowd.)

Surely there is a lot which could be added to each of the entries above, by those who have experienced them instead of trying to condense what people say into some kind of ranking. And yes, everyone has differing opinions and requirements. Still it would help me, and perhaps others, to be able to make a first cut of 4 lines or so to consider for a particular vacation. Hopefully someone will agree with me and we can put together a ranking.
Reply With Quote
  #13 (permalink)  
Old September 23rd, 2012, 07:47 AM
Senior Member
Cruise Maniac
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Kandahar, Afghanistan
Posts: 124
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruise planner View Post
Thanks for reminding me of another thing that should be listed. Ponant may be wonderful, but a quick look at their site suggests about $400 per person per night for the cruises, which is out of my budget. I'm hoping to get something in the range of $150 to $200 per night per person.

It doesn't matter how wonderful something is if you can't afford it.
Reply With Quote
  #14 (permalink)  
Old September 23rd, 2012, 07:57 AM
Mike M's Avatar
Administrator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: You're Looking At Me
Posts: 23,793
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BionicToad View Post
Thanks for reminding me of another thing that should be listed. Ponant may be wonderful, but a quick look at their site suggests about $400 per person per night for the cruises, which is out of my budget. I'm hoping to get something in the range of $150 to $200 per night per person.

It doesn't matter how wonderful something is if you can't afford it.
For the $150 - $200 per night budget you can do an inside cabin, or perhaps Oceanview, on Azamara or Oceania, depending on itinerary. Or you can do a balcony on Princess, HAL or Celebrity for just about any of their itineraries.

Take care,
Mike
__________________
Cruisemates Community Leader/Moderator

"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me

"Fear is the assassin of dreams." ~Me
Reply With Quote
  #15 (permalink)  
Old September 23rd, 2012, 09:32 AM
Marc's Avatar
Senior Member
Admiral
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 3,620
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike M View Post
For the $150 - $200 per night budget you can do an inside cabin, or perhaps Oceanview, on Azamara or Oceania, depending on itinerary. Or you can do a balcony on Princess, HAL or Celebrity for just about any of their itineraries.

Take care,
Mike
Mike, are those prices "all in" including tips, drinks, specialty restaurant and coffee, etc?
__________________
Marc

"The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

F Scott Fitzgerald

Seven Seas Voyager (30nts) - Dubai - Cape Town - Nov 14
Reply With Quote
  #16 (permalink)  
Old September 23rd, 2012, 02:21 PM
storybookcruises.com's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Ashburn, VA
Posts: 1,510
Default

If I wanted to narrow down between those two choices, I would not only look at price, but also itinerary and size of the ship. Personally, while both are very nice, Azamara would be my choice between the two. Price would obviously be based on type of cabin, length, and sail date. Keep in mind that prices shown include the cruise fare and port fees, but not taxes, transfers, or gratuities. One of the best times of year for pricing is in September; everyone is going back to work and back to school.

Pete
__________________
Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Reply With Quote
  #17 (permalink)  
Old September 23rd, 2012, 09:13 PM
Marc's Avatar
Senior Member
Admiral
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 3,620
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruise planner View Post
If I wanted to narrow down between those two choices, I would not only look at price, but also itinerary and size of the ship. Personally, while both are very nice, Azamara would be my choice between the two. Price would obviously be based on type of cabin, length, and sail date. Keep in mind that prices shown include the cruise fare and port fees, but not taxes, transfers, or gratuities. One of the best times of year for pricing is in September; everyone is going back to work and back to school.

Pete
Moderators:

I didn't realize that travel agents were allowed to post their email addresses and websites on CruiseMates; when did the policy change?

Pete, you market too much.

Marc
__________________
Marc

"The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

F Scott Fitzgerald

Seven Seas Voyager (30nts) - Dubai - Cape Town - Nov 14
Reply With Quote
  #18 (permalink)  
Old September 23rd, 2012, 10:08 PM
OldFartCruiser's Avatar
Senior Member
Cruise Maniac
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ship's Balcony
Posts: 233
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruise planner View Post
If I wanted to narrow down between those two choices, I would not only look at price, but also itinerary and size of the ship. Personally, while both are very nice, Azamara would be my choice between the two. Price would obviously be based on type of cabin, length, and sail date. Keep in mind that prices shown include the cruise fare and port fees, but not taxes, transfers, or gratuities. One of the best times of year for pricing is in September; everyone is going back to work and back to school.

Pete
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc View Post
Moderators:

I didn't realize that travel agents were allowed to post their email addresses and websites on CruiseMates; when did the policy change?

Pete, you market too much.

Marc
Mark,
When Pete started posting recently, I recognized him right away as a TA from another cruise website (allows TAs) I use too frequent. I don't see where he is listing his website & email here? Other than mentioning his TA experiences in his post, how would you know he is a TA?

IMO his posts are right on the money, except for his comments on online TAs, which I discussed w/him on the other site. L L

O F C'er
__________________
Experiences over the years enabled me to have all the answers, but not necessarily corresponding with your questions.
Reply With Quote
  #19 (permalink)  
Old September 23rd, 2012, 11:18 PM
storybookcruises.com's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Ashburn, VA
Posts: 1,510
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc View Post
Moderators:

I didn't realize that travel agents were allowed to post their email addresses and websites on CruiseMates; when did the policy change?

Pete, you market too much.

Marc

Marc;

I have never posted my email address - EVER. Nor have I posted my website, except in my very first two posts. And the only reason why I put a link then was because the cruise review section of this forum is way too restrictive in size and I could not post my entire reviews. Other than that, I've never posted my website in any post I've made - EVER. So you are wrong on both accounts.

As for marketing, I'm not advertising my services, nor have I EVER told anyone to call me or email me for pricing or to book anything, and I've never said at any time in any post that I would sell them anything - EVER on any forum anywhere. So you are wrong there, also.

The only thing I have ever done is provide my personal advice and offered assistance based on my vast knowledge and experience from being involved in travel for over 35 years. This is not marketing, it's simply offering information and if it helps someone plan a better vacation without problems, then that is great and I'm happy with it. If you feel that it's marketing when all I'm doing is offering to help educate someone who is looking for help, then your definition of marketing is different than everyone else's.

And yes, I am a Cruise Specialist. So what? A Cruise Specialist can offer information and insight that your average cruiser cannot offer. And that information comes with alot more experience than most people will ever have. Personally, I would appreciate someone offering me information to help me plan my vacation that would save me time, money, or make my trip easier and more enjoyable. But hey, that's just me.

You can take the information I provide anyway you want. Use it, ignore it, or consider it worthless. That's your prerogative. But until such time as I choose not to post anymore or until the Administrator tells me I have to leave the forum, I will continue to provide information in hopes it will be useful to someone.

Pete
__________________
Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Reply With Quote
  #20 (permalink)  
Old September 24th, 2012, 02:33 AM
Kuki's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Right here :)
Posts: 22,384
Send a message via AIM to Kuki
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc View Post
Moderators:

I didn't realize that travel agents were allowed to post their email addresses and websites on CruiseMates; when did the policy change?

Pete, you market too much.

Marc
Marc... I have no idea where you're looking and seeing that. When Pete first joined CruiseMates he had a sig line with a link. However, he was contacted and removed it immediately.

Since then his participation has been completely satisfactory, and welcome.

We have many agents who participate, and say they are travel agents; without soliciting privately or publicly, their expertise is certainly welcome.
__________________
C U @ C,
Kuki
CruiseMates' Staff Writer
- The Kuki Side of Cruising-
A new Blog post every Wednesday
http://www.cruisemates.com/blog/author/kuki/
Reply With Quote
  #21 (permalink)  
Old September 24th, 2012, 02:37 AM
Kuki's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Right here :)
Posts: 22,384
Send a message via AIM to Kuki
Default

Just this summer I had two groups of friends who sailed on Oceania Regatta, on different sailing.

One a large family group, and another a group of 4.

Both spoke to me separately, and both raved about the Regatta, and said the food was the best they've had at sea, and the service was absolutly first rate.

Though I do believe one would be hard pressed to get onboard in the $150-$200 /per day budget the poster was looking for.
__________________
C U @ C,
Kuki
CruiseMates' Staff Writer
- The Kuki Side of Cruising-
A new Blog post every Wednesday
http://www.cruisemates.com/blog/author/kuki/
Reply With Quote
  #22 (permalink)  
Old September 24th, 2012, 08:42 PM
Marc's Avatar
Senior Member
Admiral
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Huntsville, AL
Posts: 3,620
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
Marc... I have no idea where you're looking and seeing that. When Pete first joined CruiseMates he had a sig line with a link. However, he was contacted and removed it immediately.

Since then his participation has been completely satisfactory, and welcome.

We have many agents who participate, and say they are travel agents; without soliciting privately or publicly, their expertise is certainly welcome.
He has his company website in his profile. If it is not a problem to the managemnt; it is not a problem for me and I won't mention it again.

Marc
__________________
Marc

"The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

F Scott Fitzgerald

Seven Seas Voyager (30nts) - Dubai - Cape Town - Nov 14
Reply With Quote
  #23 (permalink)  
Old September 24th, 2012, 09:11 PM
storybookcruises.com's Avatar
Moderator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Ashburn, VA
Posts: 1,510
Default

Just so you know, we are allowed to have our website in our profile as long as it's not in our signature or displayed in our posts.

It would have been more appropriate to ask the question in a private email instead of posting it in a public forum, especially when you have a statement to make about marketing, which made it personal.

Pete
__________________
Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Reply With Quote
  #24 (permalink)  
Old September 25th, 2012, 07:51 AM
Mike M's Avatar
Administrator
Admiral
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: You're Looking At Me
Posts: 23,793
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruise planner View Post
Just so you know, we are allowed to have our website in our profile as long as it's not in our signature or displayed in our posts.

It would have been more appropriate to ask the question in a private email instead of posting it in a public forum, especially when you have a statement to make about marketing, which made it personal.

Pete
A link or representation to your business is perfectly acceptable in a profile. It has always been that way. I agree that it should not have been brought up in the public forum but it does inform others of this rule.

We encourage and welcom participation of travel agents and also that they identify themselves as agents. We do not allow advertising in the signatures.

Take care,
Mike
__________________
Cruisemates Community Leader/Moderator

"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me

"Fear is the assassin of dreams." ~Me
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Tags
5star, caviar, compagnie, companies, cruise, du, gratuities, line, low, luxury, ponant, quick, ratios

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Oasis OTC press conference: an overview jleq Royal Caribbean International 44 June 26th, 2008 07:46 PM
NCL Norwegian Spirit Overview of my cruise 11-19-05 to 11-27 mmkdbm Norwegian Cruise Lines 2 November 30th, 2005 05:42 PM
Cruise Quick Kathy D Princess Cruise Lines 9 February 15th, 2005 11:35 AM
Overview from the Summit Paul Jaffe Celebrity 10 January 4th, 2002 08:48 PM
2002 Changes--Product Overview Tim Rubacky Holland America 4 October 8th, 2001 11:12 AM


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


 

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:13 AM.
design by: Themes by Design

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1