Rosanne Coloccia, Preferred Travel Services
From balmy Mediterranean breezes, the azure blue of the Aegean or Caribbean, to the chill of an Alaskan glacier, I’ve long been a big fan of cruise travel. Heck, who wouldn’t be a fan of a vacation where you unpack once and your “hotel” takes you from place to place?
With the wide variety of cruise lines appealing to all different kinds of travelers, and ships of sizes ranging from small and intimate to floating resort, it’s a style of vacation still in major growth mode.
According to industry organization Cruise Lines International Association, the number of cruisers was expected to increase 8.5% in 2017 compared to 2016. And if you look at the ten year trend, from 2007 to 2017, the increase is far more dramatic at 62%!
So you’ve decided a cruise vacation is for you. You’ve selected your cruise line and chosen your itinerary. But how do you decide what kind of onboard accommodation is right for you?
In "days of cruising past," it used to be rather simple - inside or outside, port or starboard. Now your cabin will come in various shapes and sizes, many offering balconies - and if you're on one of the largest of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s ships, you can get an “inside” cabin with a window, or a courtyard view with a balcony! It's easier than ever to find something that works for you.
So where's the best place to be on a ship? Well...define best.
The laws of physics say the “best” place to be is an inside cabin, centered directly mid-ship from front to back and top to bottom. This is where you’ll feel the least amount of side-to-side rolling and forward to aft rocking.
But let's be honest - not everyone wants to be here. Sometimes even the sickest of sea dogs would put their desire for natural light ahead of their fears of a queasy stomach, so before you set sail on your next much deserved vacation, let's go over a few terms you’ll see on any cruise line website or brochure, so you can choose the type of accommodation that will be right for you.
Inside - A cabin located on the interior of the ship. While in most cases this cabin will be identical in size and amenities to an outside stateroom, this type of accommodation does not have a window. If you're the kind of traveler who uses your stateroom to sleep and change clothes, an inside cabin offers your most economical option.
Outside - A cabin located with one wall on the exterior of the ship. Traditional portholes are pretty much a thing of the past, but you will find the windows come in a big variety of sizes and shapes. Most are large, allowing for lots of natural light in the cabin. While not the least expensive option, you'll often find these accommodations aren't much more than inside cabins.
Balcony - This category covers a wide variety of staterooms! While stateroom sizes are pretty consistent, the balconies differ in size - even on the same ship. Balcony staterooms are most often located on the decks in the center of the ship from top to bottom, making them a comfortable option. Rates vary from pricey to outrageous, but some people swear they won't sail without one. You'll see these cabins called by lots of names, too - Verandah, Suite, Mini-suite. This will differ from cruise line to cruise line.
Port and Starboard - This is easy! Left and right. Here's the trick I use to remember one from the other - "port" and "left" both have four letters. Some experienced cruisers will always sail on the port side as they say you get a better view. While this may be true in some itineraries, it's not true for all. You'd be amazed at how maneuverable the ships are these days, offering all sides of the ship terrific views, even in tight quarters. And personally, I'd rather have a nicer cabin on the Starboard side than a minimum one on the Port.
Fore and Aft - Another easy one! These terms refer to the front and back of the ship. Something to think about: be careful of being too far forward - you may hear the anchors being hoisted early in the morning and late at night. By the same token, you don't want to be too far back either, as you'll feel lots of motion. Again, the best place to be here is in the diplomatic middle.
And last but not least, look carefully at your deck plan. If at all possible, you won't want to be over or under a busy public deck. I don't care how good the insulation is, you don't want to hear the bing bing bing of the casino when you're trying to sleep, nor do you want to hear the deck stewards rearranging the chairs each morning. We all work too hard these days to have our vacation marred by pesky interruptions!
A cruise vacation ranks very high on my list of great ways to travel. The convenience and comfort of today's glittering and modern ships will make your vacation a memorable one!
You may remember Rosanne Coloccia as "the travel lady" on KTVK's top-rated Good Morning Arizona, where she brought you travel tips and destination information for more than 14 years. She is delighted to once again be part of the travel industry that she loves, and Preferred Travel Services is more than delighted to have her on our team.