Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trusting Your Cruise Travel Resources

Every now and then I receive an email inquiry about something specific regarding a particular ship or a cruise line's policies. I try to answer such questions as responsibly as possible, either from first hand experience or by asking a trusted contact for details. I cover the cruise industry exclusively and won't write about subjects with which I'm unfamiliar. You really wouldn't want to read a cooking article from yours truly.

In addition to writing, I read a lot and I often read what others have written about cruise travel. It's interesting to get other perspectives on a subject that I've also covered. Professional cruise travel writers belong to a relatively small community. We know each other fairly well because we attend the same conventions and ship previews and we communicate with one another regularly. I've even collaborated with fellow writers on books and articles.

So, it wasn't uncommon that I read an article this week entitled "Choose Your Cabin Wisely." Published in two parts on the website, the more I read, the more I was dismayed by the content. The writer was correct that cabin choice determines the cruise fare a reader will pay, but the devil is in the details and those details were lacking. With my editor's cap in place, I'd have sent that article back to the author with queries, but the Helium website, as is the case with many general content websites, doesn't employ the traditional author-editor system with regard to publishing. And that's the point of my blog today. As with cruise reviews written by regular passengers, consumers who search the Internet for travel information have to take care and consider the reliability of seemingly authoritative articles. Just like the bad old days when the National Enquirer published stories about aliens from outer space, readers have to weigh the content, the source, and whether what they are reading measures up to trusted resources.

For instance, the article in Helium stated that an interior cabin would "more often than not come with two single beds and they are extremely small. If you don’t plan on spending a lot of time in your room and you are not cruising as a couple the interior room might suit you fine." Yes, as a rule, inside cabins have two beds. However, unless otherwise indicated, on most modern ships they can be put together to form a single larger bed. The article implies that an inside cabin would be unsuitable for a couple, which is silly considering the fact that many inside cabins can accommodate as many as four people. Additionally, they may be small, but they are usually not significantly smaller than an outside cabin on most contemporary ships.

Moving along, the writer shared this, "Also the cabins on higher deck floors are more expensive than those on lower floors because you tend to feel more of the motion down below." That's simply not the case and the opposite is actually true. Lower decks are preferable for people with a tendency to suffer motion sickness because they are more stable. Staterooms on higher decks have more expansive sea views, which is why the fare increases deck-by-deck for identical accommodations, with those on the highest decks being the most expensive.

While I wish the following statement were totally accurate, it isn't: "Just as in a hotel, suites are the largest in the room categories. They generally consist of a minimum of two rooms, but they can be as large as five rooms depending on the cruise liner." In reality, most cruise ships suites are larger than standard staterooms, but the living area and sleeping areas are usually separated only by a curtain. Take a look at the photo above. That's a Penthouse Suite on Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Mariner. Huge, but in the end it's one space. Granted, there are suites with separate rooms, but if I didn't know better and took the writer's word for it, my suite expectations would have been unmet in that Penthouse. And finally, the writer adds, "There may also be special privileges attached to those who stay in these suites, such as dining at the Captain’s table." Yes, some suite occupants may be invited to dine with the captain, but on most ships there are more suites than seats at his table. That's just common sense.

The Internet is a great tool for researching your travel choices, but keep in mind that you have to weigh the trustworthiness of what you read.


Greek Hotels & Hellenic Cruises said...

After 10 years of booking cruises in Greece I can honestly say that you are accurate. I don't know about American ships as I only book the Mediterranean so I cannot comment on those but I can, as an expert, comment on the cruise ships from Greece. Some basic facts vacationers should know about cruise lines in the Greece are they are significantly small cabins. MOST inside cabin onboard Louis Cruise Lines or Easy Cruise are bunkbed style usually 2 so it can sleep 4 and beds cannot be pushed together. If its premoium inside than most cased its 2 twin beds that can be pushed together. Travelers must read carefully and ask questions regarding the cabin and sleeping arrangements. Outside cabins mostly same size as inside but with a view to sea. Some have partial view, some have port holes, some have windows. Again, you must ask questions and LOOK AT PITCTURES of the exact cabin. Suites are on the highest deck for the better view and the beds are usually separated by curtain or room divider. I have yet to see on a Greek Cruise line a separate bedroom with doors and walls to separate it. I love booking Greek Cruises, I am very honest with my clients and I always send pictures of the cabin so they can get a feel. Motion sick people should go lower decks as not to feel the waves, the higher you go the more you feel it. I like your blog, you are honest and straight to the point!

Linda Coffman, AKA Cruise Diva said...

Thank you for your feedback.

Best, Linda