Sailface

FIRST CRUISE: CHOOSING AND PLANNING

CruiseGauge® staff helping first timers choose and plan that first voyage.


Tuesday, 09 September 2014 00:00

First Thoughts

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s I was planning my first cruise which was in fact right at the beginning of the of the internet boom, I became overwhelmed at the broad offerings of ships and tiers of service. TheCruisers First Thoughtsre was no cruise line site to peruse. No Google to help filter the selections. Back in that era travel agents served and still serve as the preferred-proven approach to get a real handle on ship amenities, pricing, destinations, and more. The cruise lines really prefer the transaction to be handled through the travel agent because of the personal nature an agent brings to the traveling client. Some big travel sites offer cruise booking services as do the cruise lines themselves, but when other than a straight forward transaction occurs, the corporate employee on the other end of the smartphone can only go by the rule book. In other words, it’s the traveler vs the multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation. Travel agents have expertise on every aspect of travel and can bring that wealth of knowledge to the table when interacting and transacting with travel providers. Therefore a hint from the wise is “don’t’ leave home without one”.

After contacting my travel executive, I was queried about the where, when, and how we wanted to take our first voyage. Just exactly where did we want to cruise? We were asked about our budget requirements. Cruises have not always been as affordable as they can be today, but keep in mind everything is relative to your expectations on several factors. Some of the basic key factors are:

  • Budget affordability
  • Voyage length (days, weeks, months)
  • Destinations (Caribbean, Europe, etc.)
  • Climate
  • Ship modernization (When I took my first cruise close to 20 years ago on the Leeward cruise ship of Norwegian Cruises, reverse osmosis did not get all of the salt water taste out of the water served at dinner time. I have not had that experience since.)
  • Accommodation tweaks (family, singles, adults, teens, kids, accessibility)

We will keep our focus on those attributing factors. We will address other factors later such as voyages that offer culture immersions, luxury, romantics, adventure, and smaller intimate ships.
After answering the many initial questions as thoroughly as I could, we narrowed the selection of cruise lines down to the following cruise lines:

All of the cruise lines listed above have a lot in common when it comes to quality of service and other intersecting factors, but some of the differences in their offerings are more distinguishing from the others, and we will explore those differences.