Cruise Control – Choose a Cruise Line and Stateroom to Suit Your Lifestyle, and Pamper Yourself Like a VIP

A century ago, only the aristocratic society could partake in a luxurious ocean liner vacation, but today many can turn their dream of cruising into a reality. Whether you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or part of the working class, these all-inclusive journeys to amazing destinations offer a lot for every budget.

The key is to choose the ship that meets most needs. Consider destination, budget, accommodations, and activities when researching. The first step is to set the budget. Then figure out where to go. If the budget is very tight, forgo flights and drive to the closest port. The prices are lower if the vacation is booked at the beginning or end of a season.

Next, find the cruise line that sails to the most desirable ports of call, and works within the financial constraints. Many lines have multiple boats going to the same region; however, they offer slightly different itineraries and have somewhat altered cabin and deck accommodations. Basically, the smaller the boat, the fewer the conveniences onboard. So if a bowling alley or surf simulator are not needed, choose a smaller ship to save money.

Luxury Lines

For passengers with the means to travel first class, the world is your oyster! VIP guests are treated like royalty. Luxury cruise lines will pamper them on their floating 5-Star hotels. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises, and The Yachts of Seabourne have small to mid-size ships, are more detail oriented, and offer the finest there is to offer. Delectable gourmet food, flawless butler service, fabulous staterooms and suites, and top-notch spa treatments are just the tip of the iceberg of the comforts available. The accommodations are spacious, elegantly furnished, fine linens are used, and high quality bath products are supplied. Fresh fruit and flowers are awaiting patrons, often complimentary wine is given with the meals, enrichment programs are offered, there are no crowds or lines, and the staff anticipates the guests’ every needs.

Premium Lines

Taking it down just a notch, are the premium lines like Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises. The ships are mid-size to large, offering many different quarters ranging from inside cabins to large balcony suites. The decor is tasteful, the cuisine is fabulous, and the activities are diversified. Often instructional classes (yoga, cooking and wine tasting), workshops (digital and PowerPoint), and lectures from naturalists and curators are offered. There are top performances, and the staff will be attentive and friendly. Holland America is know as a foodies favorite.

Mainstream Lines

Many people start out with the mainstream lines, due to their entertainment, extensive activities, and affordability. These ships are large to massive offering attractions you would never imagine on a ship, i.e. a full-size carousel, rock climbing, ice and roller skating, bowling, and boxing, along with Las Vegas-style night entertainment. These lines really appeal to teens, kids, and the young at heart. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival are in this category.

Suites

If a suite is affordable, amazing amenities await. They have bathrooms with bathtubs and often a separate shower, eating area, living space, private bedroom(s), larger verandas and some with hot tubs, and more. Take full advantage of everything being offered. Perks can include complimentary limo service, escort to the suite, champagne on ice upon arrival, butler unpacking (and packing) luggage, VIP cocktail party, priority check-in, concierge service, priority theater seats, a private restaurant/club, sometimes a private deck just for them with their own pool and hot tub, fresh cut flowers, and the list goes on.

Balcony Staterooms

Staterooms with a veranda are usually a bit more spacious than an ocean view cabin, and often have a loveseat sitting area.

Outside Cabins

These are the same as inside cabins with a window or porthole. The view is obstructed on decks with life boats.

Inside Cabins

On a really tight budget? Book four people in an inside cabin. The first two guests often pay full price, and then the third and fourth passengers pay a reduced fare, which is even lower if they are kids. There is a week long vacation to the Caribbean, where a family of four can travel for about $1,700 or $61 per day per person. The same entertainment, food, and activities are offered as to guests in suites with some exceptions. It is 1/10th the price to sacrifice space, a view, and luxuries, but for the most part, it is a similar experience outside the cabin. By the way, there are inside rooms with balconies as an option for passengers on the RCL ship Oasis of the Seas (see video below).

It is clear that if a luxury line or a suite is booked, a vacationer will be indulged like an A-Lister. But what if a non-suite stateroom is booked on a premium or mainstream line? How can guests feel pampered like a celebrity while only paying as little as 90% of the cost of a top suite passenger? Cruise lines tend to pamper ALL guests a little, but to take it to the next level requires some planning.

Space is at a premium. If finances only allow for a small cabin, use it for sleeping, showering and dressing, then spend the rest of the time in wide open public spaces. Before you board, purchase a bouquet of flowers, and exotic fruit for your stateroom. Read a book poolside, listen to an iPod while strolling or jogging on an open deck, and take advantage of all the ship has to offer, including going to shows and out dancing after dinner. If there is a balcony in the stateroom, order room service for breakfast. Be comfy and pampered eating eggs benedict on a veranda in a bathrobe while watching the beautiful landscape or architecture pass by.

Room service will make you feel spoiled, and is often at no charge, just a tip is suggested. Even if you eat in a sit down restaurant for lunch, go to the buffet and make a cheese or anti-pasta platter and order a bottle of wine, or gather cake, cookies, and sweets with some tea bags for an afternoon treat. Store the items in your refrigerator for later. If there is no balcony in the stateroom, bring the delights to an upper deck filled with sunshine and a view, and enjoy nature or architecture passing by. This is priceless! Ladies, if the budget allows, go for a spa treatment. Even if it is just a manicure, it is the makings of VIP service. Use the fitness room, and work off the extra pounds added consuming the delicious meals. This is a bonus for those who do not have a membership at home. If traveling with children, drop them off at the supervised clubs for kids or teens and the vacation becomes a bit of a second honeymoon. Avoid eating in the buffet restaurant for dinner. Being served a multi-course meal will certainly make you feel more special than walking in a line piling food on a plate. If there is an amazing performance scheduled for the evening, eat early, then arrive ahead of the crowds to ensure front and center seats.

When selecting a ship, remember, luxury lines are more expensive, cater more to personal needs, and tend to host an older crowd, meaning fewer kids. The reason youth programs are not the norm. The mainstream lines are more affordable, attract more families, provide youth clubs, and have lots of mind-blowing attractions. The premium lines are an amazing medium, offering activities to stimulate your mind, body and palate also offer supervised activities for children and teens. Suites and veranda staterooms have more square footage and outdoor privacy. Ocean view and inside cabins have less real estate, but are more affordable. The passenger’s lifestyle and wallet should determine, the combination. Passengers with restricted funds will have one of the best vacations imaginable. For those who are willing to pay top dollar to be pampered, be ready to experience the star treatment! In our own minds, are we not all VIPs? Grab the opportunity to be treated like one!

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