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Ann Lynes
How to Pick the Perfect Cruise

by
Ann Lynes

Cruises, much like potential mates, are varied and come in all shapes and sizes. It is hard to know which one is right for you without a little guidance. Let's start by defining the different types of cruises.

TYPES OF CRUISES

The Classic Cruise

  • Enjoy formality, epicurean dining, personalized service, and other forms of grand style living.
  • Usually cruise lines that offer these type of cruises have a reputation for elegance.
  • The atmosphere is refined and formal as well as esthetically and socially pleasing.
  • Accommodations are spacious and unusually comfortable.
  • The number of passengers are limited. The crew is able to provide more one-on-one attention.
  • The per-diem cost tends to be higher than average due to the limited number of passengers.
  • Business-oriented professionals fifty-five and over tend to make up the passenger list. They tend to be interested in the ports.
  • These cruises last two weeks and longer.
  • Through the on-board scholars and lecturers, passengers are welcome to familiarize themselves with in-depth information about destinations.
  • Shore excursions must be purchased prior to sailing.

The Deluxe Cruise

  • These cruises usually fill their full passenger capacity.
  • The atmosphere has a degree of formality.
  • Great for busy people who can't get away for more than a few days.
  • Enjoy fun and games and many aspects of modern cruising.
  • Passengers tend to be forty-five years old and over.
  • Because of the short duration, these vessels tend to be affordable and primarily sail from various U.S. ports.
  • These cruises usually last up to two weeks.

The Standard Cruise

  • Three, four, and seven day schedules are operated year-round.
  • Enjoy an easygoing atmosphere with fast-paced entertainment and activities.
  • The public rooms on these cruises are varied and spacious.
  • These cruises appeal to passengers of any age.

Special (Niche) Cruises

  • These cruises include diverse types of ships, shipboard standards, special facilities and accommodations, destinations, and itineraries, special themes, etc.
  • Attractive features of these cruises can be adventure, exploration, ecology, or destination. Popular destinations that are inaccessible by regular cruise ships are trips to the Amazon, Antarctica, and the caves in the Virgin Islands.
  • Cultural programs such as music, art, culinary, etc. are other niche cruises.

Theme Cruises

  • To intensify the attractiveness of certain off-season departures, a popular theme is added.
  • Since nostalgia is a big part of these cruises, passengers may be enticed by big-name bands like the Glenn Miller band.
  • Other theme cruises include classical music, Broadway revues, food (dieting, gourmet, wine), sport celebrities, etc.



Okay, we've defined the type of cruises. What concepts decide what cruise to take?

TAKE THIS INTO CONSIDERATION

Itinerary

  • Generally loop cruising starts and ends at the same port and explores ports close to one another.
  • One-way cruising tends to start at one port and end at another and range farther afield.
  • When a ship moves from one cruising area to another, it is repositioning. These type of cruises stop at less-visited ports and have few passengers.
  • Most ships sailing the Caribbean or Mexican Rivera in winter and spring move to Alaska or New England in summer and fall.
  • Cruising around South America is offered by a few ships annually for an one to two month cruise.
  • The three to four month "Around-the-World" cruise stops at dozens of wonderful ports. Although the cabin may be small.

Long and Short Itineraries

Short cruises are two to five days.

  • Ideal for first-time cruisers or families with children.
  • You can test whether you like cruising at an affordable price with less time away from your busy schedule.

Week-long, ten to eleven days, fourteen day cruises.

  • Longer sailing time and a wide choice of destinations.
  • Enjoy plenty of time to relax, diverse ports of call, and extensive shopping.
  • As there are a variety of people aboard, lasting friendships can be made.

Very Long Cruises are more than two weeks.

  • These types of cruises require a lot of time, money, and love of cruising.



Safety At Sea

  • The U.S. Coast Guard inspects all passenger ships when these ships board passengers at U.S. ports. The inspections are to make sure the ships comply with Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) laws.
  • Emergency equipment, fire safety regulations, drills for crew, and safety of the hull and ship's machinery are all points covered in a SOLAS inspection.
  • A ship's first call at an U.S. port is always met by an U.S. Coast Guard inspection. After a thorough check of safety equipment, the vessel is certified to embark passengers in U.S. ports.
  • If a ship doesn't measure up, the Coast Guard can either detain the vessel until the problem is corrected or prohibit it from boarding passengers.
  • Periodic checks are held at least once every three months.
  • Approximately 900 U.S. Coast Guard inspectors are assigned for ship safety.
  • Cruise ships must have automatic fire-doors, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, and water-tight compartments with water-tight doors that can be closed from the bridge.
  • All passengers must participate in lifeboat drills aboard international convention.
  • Passengers will be instructed on what to do in an emergency, via a public-address system.
  • Ship personnel are assigned responsibility for specific passengers' safety in an emergency situation.
  • At least yearly, a ship must conduct inspections of their hull, machinery, and safety equipment. This is in addition to the U.S. Coast Guard drills.
  • Make sure a ship that boards passengers outside the U.S. and offers air-sea packages meets SOLAS standards.
  • Please treat ships with respect. Don't let your children play near railings or allow anyone to sit on the railings.



Cabins

  • Since there is only one class among cruise ships, everyone enjoys the same food, entertainment, ports of call, etc.
  • As more time is spent in the stateroom, the size of the cabin is more important on a longer voyage.
  • Brochure photographs may be misleading. Photographers can manipulate the lenses and angles to make the cabins appear larger.

  • Questions to ask yourself once aboard.
    1. Is the cabin clean and orderly?
    2. Do the toilet, shower, and faucets work?
    3. Do the television and telephone work?

  • Major problems with your cabin while on-board need to be addressed immediately. Minor problems can wait until the hustle of the first day has calmed down.
  • Center cabins are more stable and have less noise and vibration.
  • Have trouble walking? Pick a cabin near an elevator. Lower decks sometimes do not have elevators.
  • The cabins on the higher decks tend to be higher priced.
  • Cabins at the bow (front) are slightly crescent-shaped. Although they are roomier and cheaper, they are subject to early morning sounds.
  • Adjoining rooms usually have thin walls between them.
  • You might get a view of the lifeboats if you pick a deluxe upper-deck cabin.
  • In a Promenade deck cabin, you may find passing strollers peeking in your window.
  • You may hear the engine noise and feel its heat in a lower-deck cabin, especially if you are at the aft end.



Stabilizers

  • The fin type is the most highly developed active stabilizers and is usually shaped like a balanced rudder.
  • Within the vessel, the stabilizers are retractable in housing.
  • They are arranged to tilt through an angle of about twenty degrees.
  • The port fin inclines downward from a leading edge when rolling into port. The starboard fin is upward.
  • The slope of the fin is reversed when on a roll to starboard.
  • The fins reduce rolling by approximately ninety percent as normally designed.
  • The fins don't help when a ship is pitching from bow to stern.



The above information is an excerpt from "How to Pick the Perfect Cruise", the first in a series of booklet publications written by Ann Lynes. The booklets - 5 in all - are available for purchase in a beautiful gift basket! For details and ordering information, contact Ann Lynes at: ann@primenet.com .

As a travel agent, freelance and mystery writer, Ann was born and raised in Phoenix Arizona. Her work has been published in the Writer's Gallery and Cosmic Landscapes. Ann is also a graduate of the American Express Travel School.


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