The good folks at US News & World Report are at it again. They recently published their 2017 Best Cruise Lines for the Money list, and it's a must read if you're planning on hitting the high seas next year. One of the surprises of this year's list is that for the first time, the Best Cruise for the Money award went to Celebrity Cruises.
Best Cruises for Seniors in 2019
- Celebrity Cruises – Best Overall Cruise Line
- Royal Caribbean – Best Onboard Entertainment
- Norwegian Cruise Line – Best Travel Destinations
1. Celebrity Cruises – Best Overall Cruise Line
Celebrity Cruises is well known as an industry leader, praised for providing modern cruise interiors and elevated dining experiences.
I cannot say enough about the friendliness of all of the staff- from the servers to housekeeping to the cruise director staff- (loved El and Kirsten on game days)- they always had a smile and couldn't do enough to make your time on board carefree. Overall worth the price to cross this off the bucket list!! -Cathrn_12 on the Celebrity Inside Passage Cruise | Trip Advisor
2. Royal Caribbean – Best Onboard Entertainment
Royal Caribbean International is known for driving innovation at sea and they continuously redefine cruise vacationing year-over-year. Each successive class of ships is an architectural marvel and they're always pushing the envelope on what is possible!
Royal Caribbean operates one of cruising's most intriguing fleets. Ships range from mid-sized and middle-aged to state-of-the-art and on-the-cusp mega-ships. The line continuously updates even its oldest ships, bringing onboard the most popular features from its newest vessels. The line boasts the three biggest ships in the world — Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas. – CruiseCritic.com
3. Norwegian Cruise Line – Best Travel Destinations
Norwegian Cruise Line recently revealed The Norwegian Edge Program – An innovative program that promises to introduce a new standard of excellence that encompasses the entire guest experience, (from ship hardware to culinary enhancements and exclusive private destination developments).
Norwegian Cruise Line is the proverbial underdog of the cruise world: not quite up among the Carnival/Royal Caribbean power elite, but scrappy and determined and lots of fun. You just can’t help but root for them. – AvidCruiser.com
Finding The Best Cruise Deals
Ever wonder how to find the best cruise deals? There are a lot of great resources out there, and we picked from some of our favorites to bring you a list of tips. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) between 2003 and 2013, demand for cruising worldwide increased 77 percent, from 12 million to 21.3 million passengers. The CLIA says that “Florida remains the center of cruising in the United States, with its five cruise ports accounting for nearly 62 percent of all U.S. embarkations.” Following Florida, are California, Texas, and New York (each had more than 600,000 embarkations).
How to Find the Best Cruise Deals
NBC News.com says:
- Book during the January-through-March “wave period”. This is “traditionally the cruise industry’s busiest booking period. During this time, cruise lines make about 35 percent of their annual sales”.
- Call the cruise line directly as a first step (get a quote and ask if there are any special deals out there)
- Check the cruise booking websites (like cruise.com, icruise.com, 1-800-cruises.com and cruise411.com).
- Call a travel agent.
- Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate.
One thing to know before you meet with a local travel agent is that many charge consulting fees for their time with you. Like many independent travel agents, luxury cruise specialist Lucy Hirleman, president of Berkshire Travel in Newfoundland, N.J., charges new clients a $50 nonrefundable trip deposit fee. –NBC News.com
Cruise Critic.com says:
- Look for last-minute cruising deals. 60-90 days to departure can be a treasure trove of last minute travel deals
- Be on the lookout for off-peak travel times (holidays are likely to have premium prices attached to them)
- Be flexible
- Take the car. Taking the car means you won't be paying for last-minute airfares, and that can save you money too!
- Access Military, Senior or Residency Rates. A number of cruise lines have special deals for seniors, military personnel and teachers.
Access Military, Senior or Residency Rates. A number of lines have special programs for seniors, military personnel and even teachers. Norwegian Cruise Line provides discounts to U.S. and Canadian military vets on select sailings. And for AARP members, it offers a 5 percent discount on any cruise booked at least nine months in advance. Holland America even goes so far as to offer discounts on select sailings to teachers, EMTs, firefighters, police officers and active military. Erik Elvejord, Holland America's director of public relations, told us that, while fares vary, they've typically been $50 to $100 below going rates. — Cruise Critic.com
Clark Howard.com says:
- Be flexible with your schedule. When you're looking for cruise deals, make sure you look at the cost-by-week to take advantage of the best deals.
- If you're buying your first cruise, don't buy online. You should have someone helping you like a travel agent, or a live cruise specialist. They'll ask you about your interests and recommend cruises that will fit your lifestyle.
- Clark likes the cruise website VacationsToGo.com. They offer a number of cruise deals to be had, and highlight deals on their site. They also acknowledge discounts for seniors and others!
The number one rule right now about cruising is be flexible with your schedule. The week you go will control how much of your wallet you leave behind on the ship. The same exact cabin could cost you as little as a third one week what it might cost you the very next week. — Clark Howard.com
A Must-Have Packing List For Your Next Cruise
Norwegian Cruise Lines posted a great question on their Facebook Page today. They asked; “What's on your must-have cruise packing list?” Some of the answers are very funny, and some are very practical! Since many of you may be planning cruises this year or looking for other travel deals, we thought we'd post our favorites from that Norwegian Cruise Lines must-have list for a cruise. These items (not necessarily in this order) are important to remember when you take to the high seas! Are you planning a cruise this year?
- Sun Glasses
- Reading Glasses
- Flip Flops (sandals)
- Extension Cord/Power Strip (adapter and/or 3 plug outlet)
- Swim Suit
- A “Cover Up”
- Book Bag
- Baseball Hat (sun hat)
- Cell Phone
- iPad or Kindle
- iPad or Kindle Charger
- Cross Body Purse (or backpack)
- 2 Dressy Outfits (formal dinners or excursions)
- Dressy Shoes
- Running or Athletic Shoes
- Work Out Gear
- Hair Clip (for the curtains if you want to take a nap during the day)
- Anti-Nausea Meds (Dramamine?)
- A Good Book (books)
- A Camera (could be your phone)
- Your Prescription Medicine(s)
- Coffee Creamer (a lot of folks mentioned this – there's no creamer aboard?)
Safety Tips For Your Cruise
Beau Prichard (from USA Today.com) published a list of safety tips for beginners that are preparing for an upcoming cruise. In the wake of the overturned Costa Concordia, and the crap-covered Carnival Triumph it's important to pay closer attention to emergency measures AND general safety precautions when getting ready for your “vacation aboard”. Remember these safety tips for your cruise and have smoother sailing on your next vacation!
Best Safety Steps for Cruising
- “Pay close attention to your safety briefing” – We've reached a point when you can't take anything for granted anymore. You are responsible for you (and your family)… Pay close attention!
- “Take care of your health” – Beau warns against using public restrooms, but if you wash your hands and practice good hygiene protocols this shouldn't be a problem. We recommend that you try to get some exercise in during your cruise. At least an hour per day should keep you feeling more alert, help with your sleep, and allow you guilt-free indulging.
- “Wear appropriate shoes” – This one is obvious, but worth noting. Ladies don't need to haul around 4 pairs of high-heels. Get comfortable, and find yourself a quality pair of sandals, and be sure to bring some tennis shoes (or some quality walking/running shoes).
- “Leave valuables at home” – Love this one… and frankly, it's a good rule-of-thumb for any travel (abroad or otherwise). Unless you feel the need to show off (and it's OK if you do) leave the jewels at home in the safe. Thieves and schemers love to prey on the naive and on the wealthy. When they spot both (in one person) they know they've hit the mother-load! IF you can afford to lose it, no big deal… but if you can't, better safe than sorry. Just leave it at home.
- “Keep your money out of sight” – See above (same applies).
- “Do not travel alone” – There is safety in numbers. Enough said.
- “Drink in moderation” – This is a tough one because some folks want to cut loose when on a cruise. Once you've reached the point where you can't drink responsibly you're at your limit, and it's best to back off.
There are so many more to mention that we'll be doing more of these lists in the future. (Here's a preview… “Make sure you use that sunscreen!”) If you have tips you'd like to share, please do so in the comments below.