Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Luxury Cruises vs. Economy or Mid-price Cruises, What's the Difference?

If you book a luxury cruise, what are you really paying for? Are you getting a vastly different experience from someone who books a cruise on an economy or mid-price ship?

Well, let's take a look....

If it's public facilities that matter a lot to you, you can actually find some of the most modern and enhanced pools, gyms, spas, lounges, and showrooms on the big but affordable ships offered by the mid-market cruise lines (such as Carnival and Princess Cruises). You won't necessarily get better public spaces on luxury vessels, and you may even have a few fewer amenities since luxury ships have smaller passenger loads.

Will you get better service on a luxury ship?

Well, maybe. Paying more doesn't necessarily mean you'll get more specialized attention. Usually it depends a lot on the passenger to crew ratio. The lower the ratio, the more personal attention you should get. (Luxury ships have fewer passengers than economy or mid-price mega ships, but it is possible to find mid-price cruise ships out there that only take a couple hundred people at a time: see posts on mid-sized ships and small cruise ships).

What you do tend to see in luxury lines is better suites. Buying a luxury cruise will usually get you a larger cabin and a roomier bathroom with tub and shower.

Dining is almost always superior on luxury cruise ships as well. With fewer mouths to feed, the chefs have more time to offer a larger choice of dishes and make meals to order, restaurant style.

However, some of the mid-market cruise lines are known for good food, too, so you don't necessarily have to pay big bucks for enjoyable meals. Also the megaships today have alternative dining restaurants where you can be treated just as you would at your favorite eatery on the mainland (these dining experiences aren't included in the base cruise price and cost $10-$30 a head).

As you can see, it really depends on your preferences as to whether or not it's worth paying the extra bucks for a luxury cruise line. Some people swear by them, and some people have had perfectly wonderful "luxury" experiences with mainstream cruise lines.

Before you make your decision ask around and visit the various cruise forums and message boards out there (a Google search for "cruise forum" will show you a couple of the most popular) to read reviews of specific lines and ships.

Source: The Unofficial Guide to Cruises

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