How Relevant is Ranking when Planning your Cruise?
The ranking of the cruise lines may be of no value when in search of your perfect cruise. The ranking is generally accurate given the industry as a whole, but this has little to do with selecting a ship for your personal cruise or that of your group. Yes, we can begin a search by the initial categorizations and the process of elimination:
- If choosing a River Cruise, what’s size of river cruise vessel or river barge? What river in what part of the world
- If choosing an Ocean Cruise, would you want a motorized vessel or sailing ship ?
- Luxury, Premium or Standard ?
- Time of Year ?
- Length of Cruise ?
- Destinations Preferred ?
- Relative Value ?
- Business or Leisure ?
- Meeting or Incentive ?
3 Primary Considerations when you Begin Planning your Cruise
The first three things that need to be determined prior to considering any ranking are:
1) The length or cruise desired,
2) The time of the year and,
The length of the cruise is the most important issue because most cruise ships in the world cruise for 7 nights or longer. Cruises of less than 7 nights are mostly limited to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Cruises, if longer than 7 nights, are usually taken by retired people because the working class has difficulty leaving work for more than a week at a time.
The Time of the year is the second most important consideration, because 80% of the vessels normally in the Caribbean depart the end of March and early April for Europe, the Canadian Maritimes and Bermuda or trans-canal to Alaska. This leaves fewer options for those wishing to cruise from a U.S. port until they return in October or November. Ninety (90%) percent of the ships that remain in the Caribbean are Carnival Cruise Line ships.
Budget is the final primary consideration. A limited budget and a length of less than 7 nights quickly eliminates all of the Luxury cruise lines leaving “Premium” & “Standard” cruise lines as the only options and there are no Premium cruise lines departing from the U.S. for the six months other than in Alaska from May through September.
Only after these three considerations are addressed is it possible to consider the destination and itinerary desired and then select between the cruise lines and vessels that offer cruises in the region desired. If the destination is Europe on an ocean or river cruise, the summer months are your only option. The same is true for Alaska, Bermuda, the Galapagos or the Northeast United States. South America is only an option during our winter, which is their summer. Hawaii, Tahiti and areas of the South Pacific and the Pacific Rim offer cruises year round.
The next step is to find the best value within the budget. Now everyone has the option to search and book online, but cruises unlike air travel are not a commodity where a seat is a seat and the only difference is price and the color of the paint on the plane.
Why Use Corporate Cruise Consultant?
Each cruise line and each vessel within the cruise lines is different as are the categories of staterooms available. Those booking directly will never find all of their options because few know cruise lines other than Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian. Princess, Celebrity and Holland America and a few of the luxury lines such as Crystal, Regent, Silversea and Seabourn.
The only way to learn all of your options and to obtain the best rates continues to be through an agent who will save you hours of time and possibly a great deal of money. A good agent will be aware of the specials on all cruise lines, how to book a Category Guarantee”, Senior Rates, special residence rates for various states, the patterns and deployments of each ship and its alternating itineraries.
A good agent will know the on-board facilities and the average age of passengers on a given vessel and itinerary. If you are planning a meeting, you will need to know the available conference space, the AV, concessions, amenities, etc. If you don’t know what to ask, you are unlikely to find the answers online.
We have been booking individual Leisure Travel, Meetings, Conventions and Conferences on cruise ships since 1976 and it is a daily challenge to be knowledgeable about every cruise line, vessel and itinerary and all of the other variables necessary to determine the best options given an individual or group desired Length, Time of year and Budget. If you are ready to start planning your cruise, contact us today at (561) 625-8807.
The Best Way to Visit Europe!
The best way to visit the capitals of Europe is on a River or Barge Cruise. Motor Coach trips have you packing and unpacking as you check in and out of different hotels each evening. River cruises, like ocean cruises, move you from city to city unpacking only once. The newer river vessels are as modern as the new ocean vessels with several differences. They are much smaller averaging approximately 70 – 150 passengers and there is absolutely no motion. The newer vessels have “French Balconies” enabling passengers to feel the excitement as the vessel cruises past the cities and castles.
River Cruises navigate most of the major waterways of Europe as well as other rivers of the world such as the Nile, the Amazon, The Mississippi, the Columbia and the rivers of China and Asia. We cruised the Danube and the Elbe and docked in major cities like Budapest, Vienna and Prague as well as smaller cities like Dresden Passau and Melk. The entire trip was marked by phenomenal scenery in every direction and great time ashore. These vessels stop in the heart of the city and so much is within easy walking distance. Some river cruise lines include a shore excursion at each stop and all offer them as options. Because these cruises are all-inclusive, they are far less expensive than independent travel and you have ready access to experienced guides throughout the trip.
Barging is yet another unique experience. As with the river, barges traveling throughout the canals of Europe were a major avenue for moving goods from the rural agricultural areas to the major cities. These barges were originally powered by horses that walked along both sides of the canals. The barges left only an inch or two on each side between the barge and the canal walls. Today’s barges are powered and designed for comfort and range from 4 passengers to 30 depending on the canal. Because they are small, they are intimate very much like chartering a yacht for the ocean. They have their own crew, Captain and chef. They move only a few miles per hour so passengers can step off at any time onto the former horse paths. Simply grab one of the bicycles, ride into a small village and then catch up with the barge and board again.
Meetings, Incentives & Groups
Both the river cruises and the barge cruises are perfect for individual or group corporate incentives or for charter. Planners who think out of the box and are looking for something different should look into these options. Family groups and simply groups of friends find the barge cruises offers a “private” vacation that gives them the advantage of influencing the trip. We recommend European Barging for your European River and Barge Cruises. Click here to inquire about European river and barge cruises. It is important to use Promo Code #EURO1 when calling or using the online form.
Cruises remain the single fastest growing segment of the entire travel industry and have been since we began in 1976. Many of the cruise lines in existence at that time like many of the airlines in existence at that time have disappeared. However, the major cruise lines as the major airlines continue to survive. One primary difference is that cruise lines are very profitable and the airlines are not. A second difference is that the airlines have eliminated all service while cruise lines have increased service dramatically.
The cost of land accommodations, transportation, food, beverage audiovisual equipment, meeting space, union labor costs etc. have continued to increase yet the cruise lines continue to maintain a price structure that remains 30% or more less expensive than a comparable land program. This and the all-inclusive nature of a cruise make it far easier to operate within budget. In addition, cruise passengers enjoy multiple destinations without packing and unpacking several times. Cruisers are looking for value and something different.
The world is 2/3rds water and there are cruise ships and ports of embarkation throughout the globe. As with hotels, the cruises range in quality from standard to premium to luxury and in size from 112 passenger ships to 5,400 passenger ships. Cruises range in length from three nights to six months in length and from river barges to river cruise ships to ocean vessels throughout the world.
The type of cruise ranges from adventure cruises in the Antarctic and on the Nile and the Amazon, rivers to Europe and throughout the world. One of the most popular cruises departing from the United States other than cruises in the Caribbean are cruises to Alaska, which are both adventurous and the experience of a lifetime . Most planners consider the Caribbean, the Mediterranean or Europe and the majority select cruises from 3 to 7 nights in length.
The most important issue is to establish the objectives and specific needs of each planner so that the best options can be quickly narrowed to the few ships that meet those needs. This takes knowledge and expertise, strong cruise line relationships and focus. This is what we do. The second most important ability is the ability to operate from the initial site selection through operations to the final accounting. If you are planning a corporate meeting and would like more to explore your options with a corporate cruise meeting, please contact us or click here.