Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What is the best way to know more about the ship I am considering for my vacation?

So you have booked a great cruise and want to know more about where you are going and the ship that is getting you there. These are all fair things to want to know more about. Numerous sources of information exist that will help you learn more about the ship and specifically who is on your sailing. Some sources are great and filled with highly accurate information while others are filled with rhetoric and a push to sell ancillary services. Some sites have lots of information but with the good is just as much bad and misleading information.

The best way to see information specific to your ship is the cruise line web site. Each cruise line has a website with maps of the ship outlining various venues as well as diagrams of most cabin types. That is not to say your cabin layout will be an exact match to the diagram, because many are a flip (mirror image) of the diagram. They are though generally the same size, just with beds, counters, and doors on the opposite side. The balcony generally is in the same place though.

Some websites have been created by individuals with more information about cabins on various ships, be it a class of ship, each ship in a fleet or some similar grouping of ships. These usually have photographs and comments from passengers who have sailed in those cabins or suites previously.  Personally when we booked two Royal Family Suites on Enchantment Of The Seas a few years back, we were able to find a set of photos someone posted of the cabin we were going to use. It helped build excitement for the trip as I was able to circulate the link to the pictures among family members ahead of the family reunion at sea.  These kinds of finds though are somewhat rare and are the exception not the rule.

To get answers to specific questions about your cruise, amenities offered to you on the ship, etc…generally again going to the cruise line website is probably your best option.  Most cruise lines have a FAQ section on their website full of useful information.  Often it’s found in the plan your cruise or pre-cruise section(s) of their web site. The information there is provided by the cruise line thus generally more accurate than what you will get from general information cruise related chat sites.

As I mentioned before, there are various sites where folks chat about cruising. They also offer advice and answers to each other about cruising and specific cruises. These sites offer mixed levels of accurate information, depending on who is answering and their actual level of expertise.  More likely than not if you post a question eventually you will get an accurate answer, but you may not know what answer is correct. Of course then you have to decide what answer was correct. Also, you will see many answers where there are mostly opinions or what happened on one ship which is contrary to policy so may not happen on other ships. Because the information can be spotty and some questions generate a firestorm op different opinions, these sites while helpful to an extent are not the best place to hang your hat on every answer that comes up.

Your best information again, is found on the cruise line websites and they should be your second source of information after your trusted travel agent who booked the cruise for you or will be making that booking.  I do not suggest calling agents for information only and not using them for the booking, as that is stealing their time where they could be helping folks who want to book.

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