For First-Class Passengers
About the Expert
Coffman is former senior content editor for e-Cruise.com and
hosted About.com's cruise page for two years. She has contributed
articles to Cruise Travel and Porthole. Linda has sailed on more than
seventy cruises. She is the
creator of Cruise
Given the large number of cruise ships
steaming around the world these days, it's easy to pay a lot of
money for a trip only to find that your standards of privacy, luxury
and comfort aren't met.
So Netfolio asked Linda Coffman to
tell us the steps you can take to ensure that you have a good time:
Use a CLIA-approved
A regular agent can't keep up with the changing rates and
specialized offerings on cruise ships. Cruise Line International
Association (CLIA)-approved agents have been trained and certified
as master cruise counselors.
Lines International Association will help you find a CLIA-approved
agent in its database.
Set sail with
people your age
Many people who seek relaxing cruises book passage aboard a ship
only to be bombarded by conga lines and loud pool music.
reservation operators either won't be candid with you about the
average age of passengers on the ship or they don't know the
Good rules to
- Older folks tend to be attracted
to more traditional vessels such as the Cunard
- People under age 35 tend to be
attracted to adventure cruises.
- Itineraries attract different
types, too. A longer and more port-intensive itinerary attracts
a more mature passenger mix. Short cruises attract younger
- The time of year also makes a
difference. In the summer, you'll find families with many
children on cruise ships. Elderly people tend to travel in the
ocean-view cabin with a balcony
Even if you plan to spend little time
in your cabin, it can feel claustrophobic if you don't have at least
a porthole. A balcony gives you a sense of complete privacy and
solitude that you may not be able to get easily on most large ships.
Find your cabin on deck plan at the
cruise line's Web site before you pay the deposit. Be sure it's in a
Here are my tips:
- Stay in rooms away from
stairwells and elevators. And don't select a room above or
beneath public rooms such as the gym or the galley.
- If you are worried about
seasickness, request a room on a middle deck and in the
middle of the ship. Upper decks and cabins at the bow or the
stern exacerbate the problem.
- Ask that your beds are set up
the way you desire. Most cabins have twin beds that can be
combined to make a queen, but you need to let the cruise line
know that ahead of time.
Book your cruise
as early as possible
Ideally, you want to book at least six
to nine months in advance to get the best selection of cabins.
If you can't get what you want,
consider booking passage on a "repositioning" cruise.
These two-week vacations are available when vessels relocate from
the Caribbean to Alaska or Europe in April, and from these areas to
the Caribbean in November. They're great if you want many days at
sea and stops at unusual ports.
Consider taking out
There are more risks on a cruise
than many other vacations.
- Your regular health insurance
plan many not cover you if you must go to a hospital in a non-US
- Since cruises are often booked
six months or more in advance, you may suffer unseen
circumstances that prevent you from going. Cruise lines strictly
enforce their cancellation policies.
- If your plane to the port city
is delayed for any reason, there's no reimbursement for missed
days aboard ship by the air carrier or cruise line.
The cost of travel protection
insurance is based on the price of your vacation. Typical coverage
for a $1,500 to $2,000 vacation is about $200 per person. You want a
comprehensive cancellation-interruption policy that offers
reimbursement for cancellation penalty prior to leaving home, plus
Sources: You can buy such a
policy through the cruise line or through a third-party program. I
have had good service from Travelex
Ask to sit at a
table of eight for dinner
When you book your cruise, request a
large table with enough people to find someone you like or avoid
people you don't like.
Most ships have two seatings for
dinner: One at about 6pm and the other at 8:30pm. Early seating
attracts older passengers and families with small children. It's a
bit rushed but the seating allows you to take in the show on many
Late seating is more adult and
leisurely. On port-intensive cruises, the late seating lets you
relax after a day off the ship and enjoy sunsets without rushing to
get dressed for dinner.
Know when to
sign up for excursions
Sign up for ship-run shore excursions
rather than private tour companies when you take European cruises.
Destinations such as Rome, Paris or Berlin are quite far from port.
If you are on a ship's excursion, the ship is guaranteed not to
leave without you.
On Caribbean cruises, I don't sign
up for tours. It's more leisurely to hire a taxi and explore on your
early or very late
If you're on a larger vessel, the
aggravation of long lines to get off the ship can spoil a relaxing
vacation. Instead, ignore the request to leave your room at 8am.
Stay in your cabin as long as you can and take a taxi instead of the
cruise-sponsored bus to the airport.
2000 Netfolio, Inc. ~ Reprinted with Permission