Things to consider when planning an ocean cruise vacation

Thinking about taking your family on a cruise vacation?   Here are some helpful hints to think about when planning

Not all ocean cruise lines are created equal. When considering a cruise, keep in mind the passenger population. There are small ships with less than 500 passengers that offer relaxation, smaller crowds and closer to ports of call. These smaller ships often come with less of the pizzazz and party atmosphere.  The Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas has 16 decks and 5,479 passengers.  It’s a floating city and if you are a suburbs kind of person, this would be extremely overwhelming.

Cruise Ship Bog vs sm

The bigger the ship, the more offerings for entertainment options and food venues which can translate into spending more money than you anticipated.  Smaller luxury ships are mellow, have a casino, all dining is included and in some cases, wine, soda and beer are served at no additional cost with lunch and dinner.  If you don’t know which type of ocean vessel will provide the best match for an exceptional experience, consult your travel professional, not an online chat session with a direct cruise line website.

Cabin type and cabin location play a key part on the cost of your cruise.  If you have done some preliminary research on ocean vessels in general, it can be quite over whelming.   Have you seen the ads on Online Travel Agency’s websites that look like such a good deal, it’s so hard to pass up?

Those are called introductory rates and you are not allowed to pick your own cabin in most cases.  It is worth the extra money, often a minimal upcharge, to preselect your location and cabin on the ship.  A travel professional will select a cabin that perhaps is closer to the central elevator for easy navigation of the ship. Maybe you love your privacy, we will select a cabin in a very quiet and private hallway.   We do that for you to give you a more personalized experience which will greatly enhance your cruise vacation.

There are different cabin types as well:  interior cabin (no natural light) ocean view (natural light) balcony cabin or suite.  Do you want a cabin with natural light?  You can have one but be careful because you might get a port hole and not a beautiful picture window.  You may book an ocean view but you do not notice that the least expensive rate is actually an obstructed view of 30% or more.  Your only view could be the back of the life boat.

Another thing to remember is that location on the ship will also dictate your final number. Prices are less for a cabin towards the front of the ship or the back of the ship. Your most expensive cabins are in the middle of the ship.  The middle of the ship is the most stable, less rocking and centrally located to everything.   If you are sensitive to movement and still have want to book the least expensive cabin, you may end up totally aft or forward of the ship where you will experience more movement. Maybe spending that extra thirty dollars for your cruise fare would be worth it when the Dramamine patches stop working and you have to spend your fighting motion sickness.

The deck level is as important as the location of the cabin.  Main and Lower levels are usually the disembarkation decks so when you port, the entire mass of cruise passengers are walking by your cabin door and it can get quite crowded. It’s worth it to pay a few dollars more to move up to a higher deck.

A cruise ship itself can be the entire vacation destination.  Pools, restaurants, water parks, Broadway shows, magicians, ice skating and bumper cars.  The list can go on.  You may never want to even leave the ship.  But if you do, plan to have a budget for shopping.  When you leave the ship, at most ports, you will find market-like cities with locals offering their wares.   Souvenir shopping can really add up and many of these items are really not a great deal.  You can spend $300 without realizing it.

Planning on doing some guided exploring while in port?  Have your budget for Shore Excursions.  If you are on a 7 day cruise and you are a family of 4, budget at least $500 – $750 for shore excursions.

Eating and drinking is one of the best parts of cruising. Exotic food, tropical umbrella drinks, yum! Be advised, specialty dining restaurants on some of the cruise lines have a surcharge to them.  The free dining is amazing but perhaps you want to have an intimate dining experience to celebrate an event, be prepared to add $50 or more to your shipboard account.

By the time you have searched on your own, wasted a lot of time on line, getting overwhelmed with too much information, you have put off the idea of a cruise vacation due to frustration and worrying if you have the best value.  Save yourself the aggravation.  See your favorite professional travel planner.  After a brief interview, we can figure out the best ocean vessel and brand for you.  We are ahead of the game and with our professional relationships with the cruise ship companies, we can often get you that specialty dining event without it coming out of your wallet.  We can find the promotions that give you the ultimate beverage package at no additional cost to you.  This is a nice feature so there is no shocking bar bill you have to settle on the last day of your cruise.  We can even find the promotions that offer a ship board credit and you can choose to use that towards shore excursions or even souvenirs on the ship!

If you want to cruise, you have nothing to lose when you use a professional travel planner.  You will receive a beautiful cruise vacation with no surprises.  You will receive the best cabin location and type for your needs along with the best absolute value and price that includes all of the best attributes of cruising.

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