The Art Of Cruising Part Two -Making Sense Of It All Continues
Last we met, we were in the midst of cruising. Let’s continue the discussion by segueing to the river and small ship cruise experience.
The cruise lines that offer inclusive rates tend to focus on experience through immersion and/or itineraries that are unique because larger vessels don’t have access to the smaller ports of call. What’s included in these rates are typically at least one shore excursion, all meals and most alcoholic beverages and specialty drinks. Some of the specialized cruise lines may offer unlimited alcohol with dinner but not lunch or a menu of activities that are included in the fare as well as some optional experiences you can pay for in addition to your original cruise fare. Some of these cruise lines will offer “free” airfare or airfare credits as well as sedan service to the airport if you are within a certain radius of the airport. Depending on the cruise line, gratuities are complimentary but you will still be responsible for purchasing travel protection with the assistance of your trusted travel advisor.
The great thing about this type of cruise experience is that it is a more intimate experience. There will be opportunities to hear guest lecturers speak on a range of topics. The number of travelers in a group for a particular on shore experience will be smaller and you will get to form meaningful bonds as you will more than likely interact with these fellow explorers again onboard the vessel. This experience is also a more laid back experience in that there aren’t any of the numerouse entertainment options onboard like on an ocean cruise ship. We are literally talking about the differences being a Vegas type experience or a Tahiti type experience and if you are someone who likes constant motion, small ship cruising may be rather boring to you. This experience is focused on the experience. Because these cruise lines run smaller ships, the cruises are often themed and are perfect for affinity groups and travelers who want to cruise but not necessarily to the larger ports teeming with other day tourists. If you love a more personalized experience where the staff greet you by name, small ship cruising may be the ideal experience for you.
You will still need to complete your online registration and choose your off ship experiences. Usually the travel documents are mailed to your travel advisor who will go over them with you. You will have the opportunity to ask questions at that time. It is a lot of information to absorb and you can always call your travel advisor later with your questions and concerns as you have them. You will need to be sure that any passport and of visa requirements are met before you sail.
My advise to those who haven’t cruised and may be considering cruising is: cruise from a port you can drive to in a few hours if at all possible, go on a short cruise if possible, go to your doctor and get a prescription for a pill or patch to combat seasickness or sail on an itinerary that won’t have as much motion from water such as an Inside Passage cruise in Alaska or a river cruise. I happen to be based in North Carolina so my clients (from my former life as a brick and mortar agent) who were interested in cruising but weren’t sure if they will like it, were always offered a three day cruise from Charleston, SC because it’s a five hour drive from where I’m located and isn’t a huge investment of time or money on an experience they may hate. Once clients would return and give me the green light, we would look for something more to their taste. And they always thanked me for suggesting and offering an alternative. Let’s face it, cruising can be expensive and who wants to invest thousands of dollars in an experience that they may not enjoy for one reason or another? If your travel adviser doesn’t properly educate you and set proper expectations and you end up hating the experience, how likely are you to trust their recommendations in the future if you even consult them again?
As you can see, cruising can be complicated and overwhelming. Cruising can also be a very enriching travel experience if you are able to hone in on the perfect cruise experience for your travel style. And cruising can definitely be for everyone.