Six Tips To Extract More Joy From Your Cruise

Our most popular report: Six Tips To Extract More Joy From Your Cruise. Download it by clicking the image.

Our most popular report: Six Tips To Extract More Joy From Your Cruise. Download it by clicking the image or here.

Downloaded more than 1,000 times, the Avid Cruiser’s Six Tips To Extract More Joy From Your Cruise, is perhaps more relevant than ever as cruisers continue to trudge through tough economic times in search of memorable cruise vacations.

Our goal is to travel smart — and not break the bank. After all, it’s one thing to get a great deal on a cruise (and there are plenty of deals these days), but it’s another to budget so tightly that you extract any possibility for pleasure on your cruise. Yes, inside cabins are cheaper than balcony cabins, but balcony cabins can be much more rewarding.

Of course, only you can know how much moolah you’re willing to part with for the best possible cruise vacation. So balance your budget against our recommendations. No one is asking that you break the bank, but you may want to consider our six tips, which we have found can make the difference between cruise vacations that are memorable and others that fail to measure up to all you had hoped they would be.

Coming into Kotor, these people were glad they had balcony staterooms. Seabourn Odyssey charts a course through a stunning passage to one of Montenegro's most beautiful bays and the village of Kotor. Built between the 12th and 14th centuries, the Old City of Kotor is listed as UNESCO "World Natural and Historical Heritage Site." Because of the bay's beauty, it is often called the "Bride of the Adriatic." © 2009 Ralph Grizzle

Coming into Kotor: In their bathrobes, these early-risers stepped out of their staterooms and onto their balconies to snap shots as Seabourn Odyssey charted a course through a stunning passage to one of Montenegro’s most beautiful bays and the village of Kotor. Built between the 12th and 14th centuries, the Old City of Kotor is listed as a UNESCO “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site.” Because of the bay’s beauty, it is often called the “Bride of the Adriatic.” © 2009 Ralph Grizzle

1. Balcony Cabins Are Best

You’ve heard the argument time and again that as you’re only sleeping there, inside cabins are a better value. Perhaps, but if you enjoy a room with a view, book a balcony. From my balcony, I have watched the sun paint pastel on the morning sky during the three-hour transit of Stockholm’s archipelago. On another morning, I dined on coffee and croissants as our ship glided past a captivating landscape to Kotor. I’ve pulled back the curtains to gaze on glaciers in Alaska and admire the fjords of Norway. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. You only get one shot at seeing some of the world’s greatest attractions  from the balcony of your stateroom.

Book a balcony and step outside for a breath of fresh air and views that will last a lifetime.

Work with a good travel agent or study the seat maps to get comfortable seating on long-haul flights. Book business class when you can afford it. Alternatively, look for Economy Comfort, Economy Plus or Economy Extra seats, where there can be 4 (or more) extra inches of legroom. Those are my legs on a flight from Europe. I scoped out the seat map to find a seat with generous legroom in the Economy Plus cabin on United Airlines. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

Book business class when you can afford it. When you can’t, work with your travel agent or study the seat maps to get comfortable seating on long-haul flights. One good option: Economy Comfort, Economy Plus or Economy Extra seats, where there can be 4 (or more) extra inches of legroom for a reasonable incremental cost or free for members of some airline loyalty programs. Those are my legs on a flight from Europe. I scoped out the seat map to find a seat with generous legroom in the Economy Plus cabin on United Airlines, where I paid no more than economy thanks to my “Platinum” status on United. Economy Plus is complimentary for United’s Gold elites and higher. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

2. The Cruise Begins With Business Class

Gone are the days when flying was an elegant (or even tolerable) experience — at least in economy class. If you can afford it or if you can find a creative way to make it happen, book yourself in Business Class when flying long distances. Business Class is where the vacation begins. You’ll experience faster check-in, faster security clearance (at some airports), lounge access, comfortable on-board seating, and most times, refined dining and service. Of course,  you’ll need to weigh the benefits against the costs, but if it’s within reason, book Business to begin your vacation before arriving at the ship. Alternatively, book what the airlines are calling Economy Comfort, Economy Plus or Economy Extra, which can be had for a reasonable incremental cost (and often for free with certain loyalty programs).

Two luxury vessels with differing on board lifestyles. Silver Cloud is a bit more refined than SeaDream, which emphasizes "yachting" over cruising. © 2009 Ralph Grizzle

In the Caribbean, two small luxury vessels. On the left, SeaDream I, carrying only 110 guests; and at right, Silver Cloud, carrying only 296. Both are all-inclusive luxury cruise vessels that often provide better value than the mega-ships, when all costs are tallied  © 2009 Ralph Grizzle

3. Small Ships Offer Big Value

Big ships offer tremendous variety and activity, and for families, those huge floating resorts may just be the ticket. But small ships carrying 800 or fewer passengers often provide better value. Small ships call on ports that big ships can’t reach. With only a few hundred passengers in port rather than a few thousand, you’re not part of a mass tourism experience, plus you get to see destinations that you can’t visit on big ships. Another plus for small ships: They are like small towns; you get to know to everyone. On big ships, you may meet friendly people and never see them again for the entire cruise. On small ships, however, you’re likely to develop lasting friendships with like-minded people. One more plus for small ships: They are more inclusive than big ships. That could be worth a few hundred dollars a day, and certainly it can be comforting to know what your costs are before setting sail as opposed to being taken by surprise at the end of your cruise.

Stop by the cruise consultant's desk for special offers during your sailing. © 2010 Ralph Grizzle

Stop by the cruise consultant’s desk during your sailing for special offers — or to explore the options. On Silver Wind (pictured) and other Silversea vessels, the future cruise consultant’s desk is situated in the reception area, where you’re always welcome to take a seat and plan your next cruise.  © 2010 Ralph Grizzle

4. Book Your Next Cruise On Your Current Cruise

Cruise lines know that they have a captive audience when you’re on their ships, so they typically offer incentives for booking your next cruise during your current cruise. You’re not likely to miss the cruise line offers while on board, but if you do, check with the on-board sales consultant for savings you might not otherwise get ashore.

How could you possibly cruise to or from Venice and not book a couple of days before or after your cruise to see this great city? Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. © 2011 Ralph Grizzle

How could you possibly cruise to or from Venice and not book a couple of days before or after your cruise to see this great city? © 2011 Ralph Grizzle

5. Pre- and Post-Cruise

Explore and enjoy the cities where your cruise begins and ends by adding on at least one hotel night. First, you’ll get to experience a great destination — and recover from jetlag. There is the additional advantage that booking a pre-cruise hotel night practically assures that you — and your luggage — arrive at the ship on time. It’s good to build in an extra day just in case flights are delayed due to inclement weather — or your baggage gets misdirected. And post-cruise stays alleviate the dreaded end-of-cruise and back-to-real-life feeling. There’s the effort and expense to get to the great cities of the world where your cruise begins, so why not make the most of the experience by adding a few days to your vacation?

Book a back-to-back cruise

Book a back-to-back cruise so that you don’t have to disembark. Back-to-back involve combining two cruises (or segments) into one longer cruise. Of course, you could always jump ship, as I did once before, from one cruise line to the other, but there are often incentives for staying on the same vessel — or with the same company. © 2009 Ralph Grizzle

6. Book Back To Back

Even better than disembarking when your cruise is over is staying on board. Check with your cruise seller. Cruise lines often offer incentives for booking back-to- back cruises.

What about you? Do you agree/disagree with our six tips? Do you have more tips that will help others extract more joy from their cruises?

  • theavidcruiser

    Thanks Michael. Good tip!

  • http://cruisevacationtip.com/ Michael Thomas

    After spending one full day on board your cruise ship, it will not be difficult to determine whether or
    not the ship is completely full. Basically, if you are on a 2500 passenger ship and you never
    experience any lines, have no trouble making dinner or spa reservations and find that there are
    plenty of free deck chairs available in the middle of a warm sunny day, chances are that the ship is
    not 100% filled to capacity.

    If this is the case, it doesn’t hurt to simply go to the Front Desk and ask about the possibility of
    obtaining a cabin upgrade. If there are cabins available, cruise lines have no reason to keep them
    empty.

    Of course, almost 10 times out of 10, you will find a sign on the Front Desk informing you in bold
    letters that “The ship is full and there are no available cabins.” But don’t let this turn you off. This is
    actually a permanent sign that is placed on the Front Desk every single voyage, regardless of
    whether or not the ship is really full.

    The idea is to simply reduce the number of passengers making cabin upgrade requests.

    Michael Thomas
    Longview, WA
    http://cruisevacationtip.com

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  • Hannah Johansson

    That was a great article on extracting more joy out of the Cruise
    Trip
    . Great indeed! People hardly keep all this in mind before planning out on a cruise vacation. This article can be of great help for them next time!

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  • theavidcruiser

    Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bartg Bart Grover

    Great advice as always Ralph.