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All $$ on Deck

by Douglas Terhune

Ever wonder why on a cruise ship you pay more money to be on a higher deck? Ever wonder why hotels don't charge more to be on a higher floor?

The cruise line industry still today has a mystique about it - class counts. It is not uncommon to hear someone on a higher deck today say "oh, you are down on THAT deck with all the poor people!" But have you ever stayed at a Hyatt or Holiday Inn and someone said to you "oh, you are down on the second floor?"

The cruising mystique of class is really not reality at all nowadays on the majority of your sea-going passenger vessels. Everyone pretty much eats in the same class of dining room, sits elbow-to-elbow in the lounges, tans next to each other by the pool, sweats together on the jogging track, loses money side by side in the casino and well, you've got the picture. So just why do people pay more for some cabins and less for others?

Our number one obvious choice is to have a stateroom with windows or a balcony. That is not what I want to discuss here. What I want to discuss is why two identical rooms - both either inside or outside but on different decks, have different list prices. The mystique my friends, the mystique.

Ship Tip: Pricing of cabins is based upon "cruise mystique."

In the golden era of cruises, passengers were divided by class. Everything they did was divided by class. The movie Titanic depicted this quite clearly, just in case you were not around back then or are not that well-versed on the history of cruising. First class passengers were near all the action - the bright-lit decks and sparse pools, the larger ballrooms, the casinos and any outdoor activities. Second and Third Class passengers remained below in dark, crowded caverns.

When passenger ships began going class-less, back in the late 50's and 60's, the people near the top decks presumably paid more to be nearer to the public rooms and sun deck. Back then there were no elevators to carry people vertically on a ship, so the younger and healthier set usually took the lower decks while the richer and more affluent took the higher decks.

Elevators though my friends became staples on ships back in the 80s, and today, no new passenger ship over 20,000 tons is built without lifts.


Ship Tip: Elevators are standard on all ships built post 1980s.

Elevators, I implore, take away class on today's modern ships - for everyone is as close to the next deck as any person residing on any other deck. (OK, perhaps the wait for the elevator might be 5 seconds longer!) I just have a hard time shelling out a couple of hundred dollars extra for an identical room just one or more floors closer to the sun deck and public rooms. My experience tells me that the level of comfort in the ride and the room service are virtually identical on the bottom deck as they are on the Pool Deck.

Some people may argue that the higher up you go the less rocking you have - and I don't buy that. Take a tall skyscraper in NY, and when it's windy outside, the top sways more than the bottom, right?

Ship Tip: The higher your cabin, the less rocking, is a myth.

So when I book a cabin, I decide if I want inside or outside (usually inside because I am not in my cabin long enough to enjoy the view from there), and book the lowest rate available. If the line has an upgrade policy - perhaps I might get lucky and get moved up a deck or two, but to me, it really is inconsequential.

Ship Tip: Choose inside or outside, and book the lowest respective fare.

And just in case you have never been on a cruise, the old adage of "you don't spend much time in your cabin" is very true. Personally, I'd rather take my savings and stay a night or two extra before the cruise in the city of Embarkation or, take my chances with that dough in the casino. I will sleep very soundly on a ship, regardless of what deck I take residence on. And as for the mystique of class still existing today on cruise ships, I guess you can't blame the lines for getting what they can for a cabin, can you?


Doug TerhuneDoug Terhune is quite the experienced solo cruiser and is a regular columnist and reviewer for the SeaLetter. His Ship Tips columns are very popular with our readers.

Doug's special interest is interviewing various officers on his cruises, including interviews with the Tropicale's head chef, the Inspiration's Chief Engineer, and the Grandeur of the Sea's Captain. To find all of Doug's SeaLetter columns and cruise reviews, visit our SeaLetter COLUMNISTS Index.

Doug is always interested in your comments and suggestions and may be reached at: Doug@sealetter.com.

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