Do-it-yourself cruise reservations used to be relatively simple if you knew your destination, ship and sail date, and were reasonably comfortable using the Internet. Unfortunately, selecting the right ocean cruise is becoming more complex every day as major cruise lines offer guests more choices and confusing price options.
Too many options and “perks” have made cruise planning difficult.
First, you now have many more stateroom options – beyond the traditional inside, ocean View and balcony choices – especially with contemporary and some premium cruise ships becoming larger and larger. For example, the Royal Caribbean Oasis-class ships offer more than three-dozen stateroom and suite options, including 11 ocean view balcony stateroom categories.
At the same time, major ocean cruise companies have introduced new ways for guests to customize their cruise vacation by bundling a range of amenities, such as on board beverage packages, unlimited Internet access, shore excursions and pre-paid on board gratuities, with each package priced differently.
A growing number of cruise lines also now offer lower cruise fares with non-refundable deposits. So, if you are not sure that you will actually take the cruise you just reserved, perhaps you should have selected the higher refundable deposit fare.
It’s also discouraging to book the cruise you desire only to learn that a similar itinerary offered by a different cruise line represents a better value. Or, that you missed a special promotion that would have given you better pricing or greater value for your vacation dollars. Or, that cruising a week earlier or later on the same ship and itinerary would have saved hundreds of dollars.
Selecting the right ship, cabin location and cruise “perks” has clearly become a daunting task when planning a vacation on your own. On the other hand, working with a professional travel adviser, who deals with various cruise lines daily, can help you avoid the hidden pitfalls associated with planning your next cruise. And there’s no such thing as a vacation “do over”.