Top 10 Cruise Lines

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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

RCI cruise ship

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,
3) Budget

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.

Destination Considerations

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.

Nickels and Dimes

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Nickels and Dimes

Cruise vacations are great vacations because they are all-inclusive

– – Or are they?

 

It is true that cruises are basically all-inclusive, however, that refers to the basic cruise cost on most cruise lines. It is the incidental items that are not included and these nickels and dimes add up. Luxury cruise lines such as Crystal, Regent, Silverseas, Seabourn, Paul Gauguin, Seadream Yacht, Oceania, Azamara, Hapag-Lloyd, Ponant Cruises and others are all-inclusive and there are no extra charges for alcohol, shore excursions, specialty restaurants, soft drinks, bottled water, etc.

Therefore, when comparing the relative cost between Standard, Premium And Luxury cruise lines is very important to consider what is actually included in the ”all-inclusive” cruise fare. Standard & Premium cruise lines will charge extra for alcohol, soft drinks, bottled water, shore excursions, dining in specialty restaurants, etc. The staterooms on luxury vessels will be larger, have more amenities, will have luxurious baths and will have balconies without paying an up charge from a standard ocean view stateroom to a balcony stateroom. In fact the balcony stateroom on a luxury cruise line may be comparable to a suite on the Standard or Premium cruise line.

Avoid a shock on the last day of your cruise when the bill is slipped on to your stateroom door. You may find that what you have spent for alcohol, soft drinks, water, specialty restaurants, shore excursions and have spent in the casino and spa totals as much as you paid for the cruise itself. If you know you will drink a lot, purchase the unlimited alcohol package. Purchase the soft drink package and bottled water package rather than paying as you go if you know that you will consume a fair amount.

Shore excursions can now be purchased in advance by going on the cruise line website, selecting and booking the excursions you want. However, shore excursions can also be purchased in advance by clicking on the shore excursion link on this website. You will find that the cost for the same excursions with the same tour operators is considerably less expensive than purchasing the tours through the cruise line.

When not purchasing a luxury cruise, the basic price of your cruise includes accommodations, room service, food and beverage, taxes and fees, nightly entertainment, use of the fitness center, etc. There may be 7-10 restaurants on a ship, but you may only eat in some of them without a surcharge. Shops are a great value because they are duty free, but those nickels & dimes still add up. And then there are the art auctions, the casinos, massages, spa treatments, Bingo, wine tastings and gratuities.

Pre-pay your gratuities so you have a fixed rate usually less than $10.00 per person per day. You will pay a lot more if you pay the gratuities on the ship. Select the cruise line that is your best fit.  Read “Cruises #101” and then the “Questions to Ask” and you will be well prepared to select the right vessel for you.

Now that you we’ve shown you where to look to decide which cruise line is best for you and you now know the what to look for when deciding on your best cruise vacation; why would you delay in booking?

Call us today at 561-625-8807  to book your best cruise vacation for Individuals or Groups.

October is National Cruise Month

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The Joy of Vacationing on a Cruise

 

October, is National Cruise Month, and is officially here! With an opportunity to save big on your next cruise, you have an opportunity to experience the joy of cruising.

October has impressive events and deal offers in store for cruisers. You can find impressive saving deals and spending credits for cruise ships with offers of values of up to $500, suite upgrades and several other incentives. October’s National Cruise Vacation Month has a centerpiece event coming up between October 21st to 27th – the NCVW, having well over 5,000 cruise lines and travel agencies participating in it from all over Canada and the US.  Several other cruise deals are to be announced in the coming days leading to the event. So, be sure to stay in touch with cruise lines and travel agents for latest updates!

Cruise shipsCruise Vacations

Looking for vacations that offer glamour, romance, and meet your cruise needs completely? What you need is a getaway on a luxurious cruise ship. You will have the experience of a lifetime right from the moment you step abroad, indulging your whims with amazing hospitality, food and wine.

Life on a cruise begins right from the moment you set eyes on your cruise ship. Going on a cruise has several benefits:

  • Spending hours at the airport or in a car is a very difficult way to start off a vacation.
  • Cruises are easy travel methods for all those who wish to make their trip relaxing and hassle-free.
  • A cruse is a great way to visit places all over the world.
  • Cruises offer an array of activities to make vacationing entertaining.
  • Cruise lines and travel agencies offer amazing vacationing deals.

Once you get to know your way around the ship, life on the ship will turn into a journey of fun and adventure.
Cruise lines offer you the opportunity to go on an exciting world tour. Here are some great locations to consider for your next cruise:

Canary Islands

Off the coast of West Africa, the ideally placed cluster of Canary Islands boasts it’s amazing landscapes and wildlife to make your cruising experience an exceptional one.

Alaska

Always a favorite destination among cruisers, Alaska offers awe-inspiring sights and activities that are exclusive to just this region of the world. Catch a glimpse of the marine life as you glide through the deep blue waters aboard your cruise ship.

BahamasBermuda cruise

Pristine sandy white beaches, glistening blue waters, exotic views and the best seafood – Bahamas has everything to make your cruise perfect.

Australia

Nothing compares to the amazing experience of sailing past Sydney’s iconic Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge.

New Zealand

Offering some of the most breath-taking sights in the world, a cruise to New Zealand should be at the top of your “must-visit” list.

Other cruising locations include the Caribbean, Middle East, Egypt, Mediterranean, Far East, Norway and several other locations worldwide.

Interested?  Need more information?  Contact Corporate Cruise Consultants today to join the adventure and fun of a cruise or click here.

Cruising Europe

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The Best Way to Visit Europe!

 

River Cruisesriver cruise 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.

barge cruise chateauworksBarge Cruises

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. river cruise - bikes_by_canal

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.

Cruising Hawaii

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Cruising Hawaii

Why Cruise Hawaii?

Tax Deductible Cruises

There are a number of advantages to cruising the Hawaiian Islands. One of them is Meeting and Incentive cruises for those companies that want their cruise programs to be tax deductible. The ships that operate in Hawaii by Norwegian Cruise Line are tax deductible because they are US registered. Most of the cruise ships in the world are foreign registered due the tax implications and other US regulations. As a result not only are meetings at sea in Hawaii tax deductible, but are deductible at twice the rate of a land based program. Due to the pricing policies of the cruise lines, the second occupant of a cruise is free other than port taxes and gratuities.  In addition, cruises are all inclusive.

A Cruise Includes Multiple Destinations

Another major advantage is that the meeting planner does not have to select one island over another because a cruise visits all of the major islands with no time lost due to transfers. If the group is on a land based program and wants to include more than one island a day is lost just in the transferring. The group must first pack their bags in the first hotel, travel to the airport to arrive an hour prior to departure, take a 15 minute flight, collect their bags, transfer to the new hotel, check in and unpack. By this time at least a half a day is lost.

If the group takes a cruise, they have all of their food and entertainment covered, a complementary cocktail party and nightly entertainment. They leave port each evening and arrive in the next port early the next day. Many people have rental cars waiting at each port so that they can immediately begin touring the island on their own. The next time you plan a trip to Hawaii rather than decide between islands, see them all on a cruise. For more information, click here.