What's Included In The Price Of A Cruise
- And Special Programming
AccommodationsCruise ship accommodations can be tiny or titanic. Think of cabins as being built for two guests because generally they are smaller than hotel rooms, ranging from 120-200 square feet. Many ships have cabins that can hold up to three or four people, but they are no larger. Rooms on ships are built for efficiency but are usually quite comfortable and meticulously clean.
There are basically four types of onboard accommodations on most cruise ships:
- Oceanview with Balcony
- Suites and mini-suites
If your cabin is one of those that can hold additional passengers, those beds pull down out of the walls or the ceiling. Then your cabin looks like you're having a sleep-over. Kids love it, but most adults would prefer connecting staterooms.
Interior rooms are located in the internal hallways of the vessel and do not have a window or a porthole. Usually the rooms are the same size as the oceanview accommodations, but definitely feel smaller. Interior cabins are located on almost every deck of the ship and are the least expensive.
Oceanview rooms are located around the perimeter of the ships passenger decks and will have a window or a porthole. The windows are usually quite large and the view is the same regardless of which deck you're on. Many ships do have a small amount of cabins that have a view obstruction, often from the lifeboats, but these are usually easy to spot on the ship's deck plan and can be avoided.
All ships will also have a few cabins with portholes rather than windows. Portholes are small and round, so the view is not as expansive. These cabins are always located in the front of the ship and sometimes in the back on the lower decks. The benefit to one of these over an interior room is that there is some natural light in the cabin.
Oceanview cabins will fall in the mid-price range for the cruise. The cabins with obstructed views and those will portholes are sometimes less expensive than the full oceanview cabins with large picture windows.
Oceanview cabins with balconies are the most popular choice for accommodations, and newer cruise ships with offer a greater number of cabins with balconies than any other type. The most affordable cabins are often the cabin is the same size as a regular oceaview cabin, but with a small private balcony attached. But these cabins, and their balconies, can come in many sizes.
Suites and mini-suites offer the widest variety of room sizes, amenities and facilities, and the choices will differ greatly from one cruise line to another. Sometimes the suites will be very different from one ship to another, even within the same cruise line. Suites on almost every ship have king-size beds and large private balconies. The newest ships tend to have the most from which to choose, and some cruise lines offer concierge services or even butlers for guests who buy suites. Just like at hotels, suites can be the size of small apartments with more than one room and large enough to hold pianos, wet bars and whirlpool tubs. It comes as a surprise to lots of folks that suites often accommodate only two guests! So that idea you just had for 17 of your closest friends to share the cost with you just went overboard.
DestinationsOne of the most appealing things about a cruise is the variety of destinations available. And each individual itinerary will make stops in different ports of call. Cruises are great for sampling new places or revisiting favorite ones. In addition, cruise itineraries are designed to provide an assortment of the best that each region has to offer, much like a box of chocolates.
All ports of call have a mixture of the things that you want to do on vacation. Some ports are best for sightseeing, while others may be best for fun-in-the sun or adventure. Some destinations focus on history and culture, and others offer the best of the natural beauty of the country. But guess what! The cruise lines are experts at itinerary planning so you don't have to be. Every single port of call has a little bit of everything you want, (otherwise the ship would go somewhere else!) So no matter what you're looking for, you'll find that and more. It's part of the fun of discovery we all hope for when on vacation.
When most of us think of a cruise our mind wanders to the Caribbean. The Caribbean is the number one cruising region in the world and it's open year-round. Other places in the world will only be available when the weather is favorable. For example, cruises to Alaska operate during the summer, when it's quite cold enough as it is. Sorry, you can't cruise to Alaska in January. But you can visit Antarctica because it's summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Need a geography lesson? CruiseCheap.com has one of the most extensive destination encyclopedias on the Internet. Check out the Destinations section on the left side bar and if you have any questions just give us a call. Chances are one of us has been there or we know someone who has. If not, we're smart enough to figure it out for you!
DiningEating on a cruise ship is an event and it usually takes more time than you dedicate to it at home. Perhaps that's why some people say that's all they did. Or maybe it was all they did. Either way, it must be good or everyone wouldn't be raving about it all the time.
So what makes the food so good on cruise ships? It's really quite simple: everything is made on board from scratch. The galley crew is like a bunch of elves up all night mixing, baking, slicing and dicing. And they work all day, too, to deliver their guests the finest quality and the widest variety of choices available anywhere.
Dining is one area in which the cruise industry has made big changes over the past few years. Dining schedules? Gone! Almost every cruise line has found a way to let you eat where you want, when you want and with whom you want.
Traditional dining times can still be found, though, because some people really like it. But the great thing about today's cruises is that it's not the only option anymore. These additional venues are considered "alternative" dining.
Ships with alternative dining have anywhere from four to 10 different restaurants! (And there's always 24-hour room service available if you've missed something.) Just about any type of food you like is offered: French, Italian, Cajun, Asian, fusion, tapas, sushi, deli, pizza, vegetarian, steaks and chops. Oh yes, and good ole' hamburgers, too. Family-friendly cruise lines even have separate kids menus.
The main dining room is open during certain hours and never requires reservations, but some alternative dining venues are quite small and require a reservation to guarantee that a table will be available when you'd like. Others are super casual or out on deck and you go when you like and don't even have to get dressed up. See below under the What's Not Included section for more information about alternative dining.
EntertainmentNightlife is one of the best reasons to choose a cruise over another type of vacation. Every ship offers some type of entertainment, and most have more than one lounge plus a casino. Large ships have dozens of choices.
Production shows generally fall into one of two genre: Las Vegas or Broadway-style. Both offer a montage of your favorite show tunes but one usually has more feathers. These shows can be quite spectacular with troops of dancers, acrobats, special effects and elaborate costumes and set designs.
Comedy acts are quite popular and are usually suitable for adults only. Newer ships also have sports bars and offer live games via satellite.
All types of music are represented throughout the cruise as well and performed live by the ship's musicians. The dining rooms and cocktail lounges usually have a live pianist or string quartet. The bars and theme lounges offer raggae and calypso by the pool, pop and soft rock for dancing, jazz for groovin', oldies for sing-a-longs and the nightclub will always have a DJ with plenty of techno dance mixes loaded into the machine.
ActivitiesMany people are concerned about being bored on a cruise. My answer to that is that if you're bored it's because you want to be. Don't worry, napkin folding has gone down with the Titanic.
Here's another area in which the cruise lines have responded to their guests changing lifestyles with a whole new menu of interesting and educational activities designed to enrich your life and your cruise experience.
Fill your days at sea with art classes, dance lessons, computer learning, wine tasting, cooking demonstrations, art auctions, yoga or Pilates, bridge lessons or casino gaming lessons and tournaments. For something less cerebral, there are golf simulators and putting courses, basketball, state-of-the-art workout facilities and personal trainers. And just about everyone has heard about the ships with rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks and in-line skating tracks. Yes, there's still shuffleboard. Also ping-pong, video game rooms, chess, backgammon, cards, board games, movies, books, the ever-present internet cafe and most ships have spas and salons with dozens of different types of facials, massages, manicures and pedicures.
Everyone has their own expectations and the facilities and onboard programs differ from one cruise line to the next. Don't be afraid to ask specific questions. Our agents know the ships well and we can always find the answers for you.
ServiceBy nature, a cruise is both a ship and a hotel. As passengers, we interact with the hotel side of the operation such as the food and beverage servers and the cabin staff. One of the ways that the service on a cruise differs from that of a hotel is that specific staff members are assigned to serve you personally while you're on our cruise vacation. You can definitely get used to this, but remember, the crew has to stay on board!
For example, very shortly after you've boarded your ship, your cabin steward will usually tap on your cabin door to introduce himself. And what's really neat is that he will already know your name. If the cruise line was informed in advance of any special needs you have, he will probably know that, too. Throughout the cruise he will pay scheduled visits to your cabin at least twice a day to tidy up and deliver fresh towels, and at night he'll turn down your bed and often leave a little surprise. In between, he's on call just waiting to dash back to your room should you think of something. Try finding that at a hotel!
You will also enjoy the attentive service of your assigned waiter and his assistant should you participate in the traditional dining experience. Together they will cater to your personal preferences by memorizing such vital information as how you take your coffee. And they'll be there waiting for you every time you enter the dining room, no matter what time of day or night; so no one is really sure when they sleep.
The crew aboard many ships is international and you'll find men and women of all ages from exotic locations. Some cruise lines, however, hire men and women of a single nationality in an effort to provide consistent European or Asian-style service. Regardless of the origin of the staff members, it's the personal attention that makes the service on board a cruise so different from other types of vacations. Passengers and crew members often get to know one another quite well, and it's always a treat to find your old friends aboard your next cruise vacation.
Children's ProgramSome cruise lines are very family-oriented and offer a comprehensive children's program. Usually the activities and playrooms are divided into four or five categories based on age, and staffed by certified child counselors who entertain and educate the children both in port and while at sea. There may even be a separate pool for young children.
The minimum age for a child to participate in the program is 2 or 3 years old and he or she must be potty trained. The only exception is Disney Cruise Line, which offers a nursery. But there is an additional charge for that service.
When you board the cruise you can pay a visit to the children's area and meet the counselors. They'll help you enroll your children and get them started having fun with the other kids as soon as possible. The kids usually have such a great time it's often hard to get them to leave. Whew! But it is your responsibility to remember to take them home with you at the end of the cruise.
Certain itineraries or destinations on some cruise lines do not guarantee the availability of a children's program, so please ask your agent for specific information about the cruise you are considering. Most luxury cruise lines and speciality cruises do not offer any facilities for families traveling with children. Your CruiseCheap.com agent will be happy to suggest one that meets the needs of every member of your family.
The children's program is separate from babysitting, which is usually offered in the playroom during the evening hours for an additional charge. Surprisingly, it's probably less than your babysitter charges at home and there is even a multi-kid discount!