What Would Be Your Perfect Cruise Ship? 15 Points to Consider

Different cruise lines have different personalities. They also have different sized ships. If you remember “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, the children’s bedtime story, “One bowl of porridge was too hot, another too cold and the third was just right.”  If you were to design a cruise ship that was “just right,” a ship you wanted to sail on again and again, what would it be like?

  1. The right size. There are ships equaling the population of a small American town. There are canal barges where the passenger count is the same as your last dinner party in your home. You would decide whether you want a mega ship, a large ocean-going ship or even a river boat or canal barge. What is your ideal size?
  2. Ease getting on and off. Regardless of size, you do not want to wait in long lines to check in and board. This affects you on different levels. When you first arrive and when you get off at the end of your cruise are two bottlenecks. (Bear in mind the cruise line wants you on and off quickly too!) You are also concerned about getting on and off in ports. Tendering can be an inconvenience, but necessary when large ships cannot dock in certain ports. Your ideal ship would allow you to walk on and off as if you were leaving and returning to your house.
  3. Smooth sailing. No one signs on for rough seas. Even if a ship is well designed, a seriously rough ocean causes problems. Your ideal ship would always feel like it was mounted on ball bearings, Sliding across a smooth surface. Your ideal ship might do river cruises. It might be a canal barge. It might be a ship sailing up the inland passage towards Alaska.
  4. Attractive itineraries. Your ideal ship goes somewhere you want to travel. If you’ve been to the Caribbean more times than you can count, you want a different itinerary. If you want to visit places where everyone speaks English, the Mediterranean might not be for you. Cruise lines with multiple ships usually offer several itineraries. These vary with the seasons. They might sail in the Caribbean during the winter band the Mediterranean during the summer. Cruise lines tend to add new ports. Hopefully your new favorite ship has an attractive itinerary.
  5. Compatible fellow passengers. If you are traveling with young children, you might not want a ship where everyone dresses up at night and raves about the nine-course tasting menu served over three hours. If you are a rock and roll fan, you ideally want to be surrounded by other passengers with the same interest. Cruise lines have personalities. Your travel agent will know. They do theme voyages too.
  6. Your cabin would be large. Who wants a small cabin? People rationalize you don’t spend much time in your stateroom, but you would want one you would actually want to spend time in if you chose. Cruise ship cabins on larger ships are pretty standard in size. They are a lot bigger than in the “Love Boat” days. If you want a larger cabin and are prepared to pay the price, larger ships have accommodations with names like “the owner’s suite” that might be the size of an average American home on land!
  7. Luggage would get to your stateroom quickly. This is a concern everyone has but rarely voices. You bid farewell to your luggage at the pier, hoping it will be in your stateroom before the ship sails. Everyone “knows as guy who knows a guy” whose luggage never arrived. You need to trust the ships have gotten this procedure under control.
  8. Many restaurant choices. The dining room might be great, but the menu cycles. What if you wanted yesterday’s featured special today? What if you felt like Japanese food?  You would want a ship with several specialty dining venues you would book just like you make restaurant reservations at home. You might want a ship that accommodates special requests in the dining room. These options come with a cost, but they are often available.
  9. Open seating dining, whenever you wanted. You don’t want to be told when you are supposed to eat. You did that throughout your childhood. You would like to dine when you choose. Many ships have moved to this model or offer it as an option.
  10. Dine in your cabin option. Sometimes you want to be alone. Other times you want to plan a romantic dinner for two before you ask a very important question. You know room service has been around for years, but feel memories are not created over lukewarm hamburgers and cheese sandwiches. Some cruise lines have enhanced the in room dining options. Some of the luxury lines allow you to order from the dining room menu and have the meal served in your stateroom.
  11. Your own personal deck space. You don’t want an inside cabin, especially if you are sailing to sunny climes. You want to be able to stretch out on a decent sized balcony. The majority of the cabins on most ships in service today are balcony cabins. Getting your own deck space should be easy, regardless of your budget.
  12. Plenty of outside deck space. You want to stretch out, take a swim, enjoy the sun (or not) and enjoy one of the social aspects of cruising. You want deck chairs you don’t need to compete to secure. This should be an easy request to arrange. Most ocean-going ships have plenty of outside or covered deck space.
  13. More of whatever you like to do. This is a very personalized request. If you love reading, you want a large library. If you are a wine fan, you want wine classes. If you are into learning, you want plenty of lectures. If you are single, you want the opportunity to meet new people. Cruise lines have different personalities. Your travel agent can help you find the ones that match your interests.
  14. Service on demand. That sounds like a harsh term, but when you come up with a request, you want it addressed. If you are out on deck and want a cool cocktail, you want waitstaff to be nearby. If you decide at the last minute you want to go on a sure excursion, you want it handled with one phone call. When you look at the statistics relevant to each ship, you will see the crew size is enormous. There should be staff on hand to attend to your requests. If you are prepared to book into a luxury category, you may have the services of a personal butler or concierge.
  15. Good internet connectivity. Here’s a challenge. There are no cell towers at sea. Technology makes advances but connecting 2,500 people “in one building” to the internet can be difficult. You can pick up local networks in foreign ports, but it will likely be expensive. At this moment, getting this delivered on your ideal cruise ship may still be a dream when you are at sea.

The good news is most of these features are already available on ships in service today. There are many lines catering to different market segments. This is where a travel agent comes in handy.

Ed. Note: Browse Cruise Ships and Cruise Lines (cruisecompete.com)

Cover photo: St Maartin Oyster Bay Photos ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews


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