Recently I’ve talked with some people that think that the luxury cruise market is only for the uber-rich, or star-struck contest winners that wander around Titanic-like ships with first and third classes. They worry about dress codes, fork placement, the dreaded last-day invoice, and a whole host of possible faux-pas they could make while onboard, like stumbling into the Captain’s personal brandy stash, and being thrown overboard for “bad form”.
First, let me put your mind at ease. Luxury Cruises, while being, well, luxurious, are very approachable and very affordable. The staff onboard the ships are used to folks experiencing a higher level of service, food and ambiance for the first time, and they are very happy to help you discover all there is to offer.
Here are some suggestions:
Relax and Talk to Experts.
As you prepare for your cruise, be honest with your travel planner about your concerns. The more information they know about you and what you expect, the better they can match you to the right cruise line and right ship. There are some luxury cruise lines which cater to an older crowd and so the nightlife won’t be as expansive. There are some that have added educational seminars rather than Karaoke (both are fine, by the way…) – just be sure and communicate your likes and dislikes clearly so you’re not disappointed.
Sticker Shock Averted.
Your travel planner’s motto should be, “We can work with any budget, What’s yours?”. Don’t be offended by this question; they aren’t trying to wrangle more money out of you. It helps them (and you) to weed out options which clearly won’t work – but will allow them to perhaps get some extras included by way of their relationships with the cruise lines if they have a little wiggle room. Be sure you know exactly what’s included and what’s not in the cost of your cruise fare, and consider flexibility in terms of dates, departure ports and even length of your cruise. It could be the cruise of a lifetime even if it is only a four-day, rather than a sixty-eight-day sojourn.
Shopping & Gambling Onboard
I have a confession to make. I love to play blackjack, and I especially love to play on cruise ships. I can imagine myself in a 40’s spy film being watched by some tall, dark, handsome man who buys me a drink… and… I digress. Reality is, its usually my dapper tuxedoed husband desperately trying to keep me from losing our next month’s mortgage on one hand. The point is: have a budget in advance and stick to it. Things can add up quickly when you’re shopping and gambling onboard.
Do your Research, but Validate Them Professionally
I wouldn’t make a move without a travel professional these days. I simply can’t call the Internet, although I do love to surf for ideas and research and despite the fact that I can connect with people around the globe and get first-hand information, having someone that knows me, what I like, what I dislike and can tell me without fear of offense that I would be making a terrible mistake by doing such and such. That kind of unbiased “travel therapy” is crucial today, and I appreciate it.
So, dive in. Explore the world of the uber-rich and take a luxury cruise. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but aren’t you worth it?