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Cruise Line Brochures
What do they say? How to read them...

by Linda Coffman

Years ago, before the Internet became a savvy traveler's primary source of information, brochures were often the first glimpse of what potential passengers might expect on cruise vacations. In some cases, they still are. 

Brochure styles vary from straightforward in approach to as dreamy and romantic as a romance novel. Some brochures are beautiful enough to qualify as coffee table books. But are they a slick marketing device or useful planning tool? You be the judge. Open any cruise brochure and you are sure to find a dizzying display of information and photographs. What you want are simple facts, displayed in an informative manner. What are you likely to find?

First of all, you have to select the right brochure. While some cruise lines feature their entire fleet and all itineraries in one volume, others publish brochures for specific destinations—the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Alaska, Europe. 

Inside the Brochure
Maybe it's just us, but the staff likes to see a Table of Contents. After all, a brochure is an enticing book. It saves a lot of time and searching to have such topics as staterooms, dining options, on board facilities, activities, entertainment, children's programs, and the "fine print" in a Table of Contents. Fortunately, brochures are often organized in that manner.

What more do we want? We want those facts mentioned above. Can we bring a bottle of champagne to celebrate a special occasion? Or will one be provided free of charge for the asking? We want to know what to pack to be appropriately dressed, what our stateroom features are, what's included in our fare (and what's not) and, most importantly, what happens if we have an emergency and must cancel. For that and more...

Begin in the BACK!
You probably wouldn't start reading a mystery novel on the last page, but suggests you immediately turn to the last few pages of the brochure. That is where you will find the "fine print," which everyone considering a cruise needs, or at least should want to know. The section may be titled, "Things to know before you go," "What you need to know," "Important policies," or even "Terms and conditions." READ IT. Read it closely.

Judging by the queries posted on Internet message boards, few people take the time to read that "fine print" in the back of brochures. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found simply by thumbing through the brochure of the cruise line you are considering from back to front.

Also look toward the back of the brochure for details about Air & Sea programs, insurance, and amenity packages to enhance your cruise. 

Picture Perfect
After absorbing the facts, go back to the front and take a good look at the illustrations. Would you be happy to share a cruise with the people pictured? While they are more likely than not models, those people "could" be your on board peers. A brochure depicting children in a majority of photos should be a solid hint that the cruise line caters to families. Similarly, stylish middle-aged to older couples hints at a particular demographic.

Deck Plans, Staterooms & Fares
Location, location, location. A deck plan is a map of a ship and, unlike a road map, can give a fairly precise idea of what features the neighborhood will hold. 

More about pictures—we'd like to know what kind of a lens was used to take the vast majority of stateroom photos. As a rule, accommodations look exactly like the pictures and are perfectly adequate for the average passenger; however, they are usually smaller than expected. Many staterooms appear larger in brochure photos than in reality.

Buzz Words
Some armchair brochure browsers get caught up in "crystalline waters" and "historic wonders"... is there anything in between? Well, yes.

More information... Go to —> Part Two

Image Carnival Cruise Lines

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