Focus On Cruising

Exploring the Wonderful World of Cruise Ships

Your Questions About River Boat Cruises In France And Italy

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Nancy asks…

river cruise between France and Italy for 3 couples?

would love to stay a few days in each place and then cruise.

John answers:

Nancy, I’m not entirely certain what you are asking for.  Are you looking to go from town to town, stopping for a day or two in one,  and then take another boat to the next town on your list, and so on?

If so, this may be possible on day-trip boats that work their way up and down some of Europe’s rivers, but you will not be able to do it on one of the high end 7 to 14 night river cruises that have become so popular in recent years.

If you are asking if you can arrange hotel stays at either end of a river cruise, then the answer is yes, of course you can.

Now, you cannot cruise fron France to Italy on the same river cruise.  You can take separate cruises in each country.  France will offer you more options and a more deluxe experience.

There is a cruise on the Po River in northern Italy, but the focus is really on Venice, and much of the time is spent in Venice using the boat as your floating hotel.

Finally, if you’re intent on combining Italy, France and a cruise, there are numerous Mediterranean cruises that visit ports in both countries.

Jenny asks…

Is anyone familiar with the river cruise dock(s) in Arles, France?

I am to leave Arles on a river cruise on October 6, and the cruise line told me the ship leaves from Quai Lamartine in Arles.  Because I must get to the ship on my own I have tried to find a map of that dock without success.  The only dock with that name is in Macon France, many miles away, which is even past our destination city of Lyon.  I am sure that the Macon dock is not the dock from which I am leaving.

Any help would be appreciated.
(I must travel from Marseilles to the cruise ship.)


John answers:

There is a quai Lamartine in Arles where all the cruise boats are docked!  It is situated 2.5 kilometers from the city center and you should not have any difficulty finding it when arriving in Arles.

Do not hesitate to ask your way and if you don’t speak French, show your cruise program and I am sure there will be a kind person there able to help you.

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Technorati Tags: Po River, river boat cruises, river boat cruises in France, river boat cruises in Italy, river cruises

Your Questions About Rivers and River Cruises

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Susan asks…

What is the best river cruise in the US for 1-2 week trip? Cost not so much a factor as great…?

…scenery and overall exp.
I don’t mean a mega-cruise ship; thinking more about itinerary, quality of meals, etc. We have done several ocean cruises and want to try something smaller and closer to home.

John answers:

Susan, since you don’t say where home is, I’ll give you a few options throughout the country.  Please bear in mind that my answer is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive, only illustrative.

On the East Coast, there are small river boat cruises on the Erie Canal, steeped in history and blending beautiful scenery with  small town charm.  You might also consider the Fall foliage river cruises along the Hudson River in New York, offered by American Cruise Line.

If you are planning on taking the river boat cruise next year, American Cruise Line will be inaugurating new 7 night paddle-wheeler service on the Mississippi River.  These river cruises will be the first in about 4 years, and will sail routes similar to those offered by the defunct Delta Steamship Company.  You can channel your inner Mark Twain.

Finally, on the West Coast, both American Cruise Line and American Safari Cruises, among others, offer cruises on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.  Majestic scenery, Native American culture, and the association with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, all contribute to a very popular and highly regarded river boat experience.

I hope that gives you some ideas.

Michael asks…

I saw a sculpture while I was on a cruise of a river on the east coast of the US?

I believe it was either the Hudson or the Delaware. I was on my 8th grade DC trip. I remember being able to see what looked like a sculpture of a giant man who had fallen in something so you could not see all of him. What did I see? I cant find it anywhere?

John answers:

Check if it was this sculpture, called The Awakening:

It’s an impressive sight.  I can understand why the memory lasted.

Linda asks…

Overnight River Cruises in Thailand??


My boyfriend and I will be in Thailand from this Spring.  We’d like to do an overnight cruise to Aruthaya but all the ones we’ve seen are over $200 each! Are there any that are less expensive??

Also any suggestions for Hotels in Bangkok under $30 US would be appreciated.


John answers:

Ayutthaya is only 85 kilometers from Bangkok, so taking an overnight boat there devotes a lot of time to a rather short journey.  You probably won’t find many options lower than the prevailing rate.

There are two other options that you might consider.  There are boats available at the site that will take you around the area.  These can be chartered at several piers, and cost will depend on the length of the trip.

Alternatively, there are packages that combine a bus trip to Ayutthaya with a boat trip back to Bangkok.  Costs can be reasonable.  You’ll get the opportunity to view the sites and the boat trip you’re looking for, without the added cost and exaggerated time consumption.

Finally, there are dinner cruises on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, if that interests you.

As for hotels under $30 in Bangkok, sorry.  I don’t know any I could recommend.

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Technorati Tags: American Cruise Line, American Safari Cruises, Columbia and Snake Rivers, Columbia River, Erie Canal, Fall foliage, Hudson River, Lewis and Clark, Mark Twain, Mississippi River, paddle wheeler, Snake River

Your Questions About Cruises From New Orleans

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Mark asks…

looking for river cruises from New Orleans to Louisville?

hello I’m interested in finding a riverboat cruise from New Orleans up to Louisville
i have check the websites that is no longer any Mississippi river cruises is this correct?
thank you
TM (travelmaster)

John answers:

Hi Mark,

That is correct at the moment.  Next year, however, American Cruise Lines is launching a brand new purpose-built paddle-wheeler on the Mississippi River system.  Visit their website.  You’ll see a host of options and itineraries.  New Orleans to Louisville, however, might not be one of them.  Perhaps you’ll find another itinerary that appeals to you.

Richard asks…

I need help finding a cheap cruise from New Orleans?

I’m looking for a 3-5 day cruise to anywhere.
My price range is from $300-$400 (yes very cheap) and must be from New Orleans!
I have a party of 5 by the way.
Oh yeah and I am available to leave in April or May.

John answers:

Richard, take a look at Carnival’s website.  They have some  5 day Western Caribbean cruises out of New Orleans that fall within your price range and time frame.

James asks…

Would it be safe to sail from New Orleans to the Western Caribbean in September?

We currently have plans to cruise from New Orleans to the Western Caribbean islands in September, but with the possibility of hurricanes at that time of year we are not sure if we should continue with our plan.

John answers:

Well, September is the middle of the hurricane season in the Caribbean and that could present a problem.  The cruise lines do a good job of steering away from hurricanes, however.

If a hurricane is bearing down on New Orleans on the day of your departure, your cruise might well be delayed a day.  Otherwise, once at sea, a hurricane might force the ship to alter its itinerary a bit, resulting in an alternate port or two.

There might be more clouds than you’d like, but the cruise will go on and you’ll probably have a great time.

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Your Questions About Cruise Deals And Cruise Vacations

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Sandra asks…

Do you get good deals for booking a vacation/ cruise last minute?

Is it possible to get a last minute deal?  I am looking to go in the end of June, but I want a good deal and I don’t mind taking a chance for the last minute.

John answers:

There’s always the possibility.  Is it likely?  No.  The more likely outcome is you’ll wind up paying more and settling for whatever is still available.  You’ll have a better chance of getting just the right cabin on the cruise you want by booking in advance.

Thomas asks…

What are the best deals or places for a cruise and stay vacation?

My girlfriend and I are looking to take a week vacation in the Bahamas or Caribbean and we want the experence of both a cruise and an island stay. We plan on going in a year from now but that may change based on when the best time to go is.  We will both be 23 at the time of our trip.  Any information or help is appreciated.

John answers:

Because of your age, don’t bother looking at Carnival as their rules state that one person must be 25 or older in your cabin.  The best weather, but the highest prices,  occur during the winter months.  Summer is less costly but very hot and humid.  Avoid mid-August through the end of October, if you can.

Now, combining a hotel stay with a cruise is certainly possible, but the options are limited.  Cruises to the Bahamas are roundtrip, beginning in the US.  You can’t just get off the ship and stay.  So if you have your heart set on the Bahamas, you should just do a land package and save the cruise for another time.

If you opt for the Caribbean instead, look for cruises that either begin or end in San Juan, or offer San Juan roundtrip.  Princess Cruises offers regular sailings from San Juan, as do other lines.  You could then combine a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay with the cruise itself.  You could stay in Puerto Rico or the nearby Virgin Islands, or even go a bit further afield.

Depending on what you’re looking for in a cruise, you should also look into Windstar Cruises which offers roundtrip sailings out of Barbados and St Martin.

Donald asks…

When you’re thinking of going on a land vacation (not a cruise) how do you go about finding deals?

I want an all inclusive vacation.. do I have to go to a travel agent or can you actually get it online… help

John answers:

Well, Donald, although this column is focused on cruises, I’ll take a shot at the answer.  You can find packages on line, many people do it.  Try Travelocity or Orbitz.  You can also go to tour operators’ websites, such as GoGo or Travel Impressions.

You might find, however, that the abundance of information and choices is a bit overwhelming.  It’s always best, I think, to use a good travel agent.

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Technorati Tags: Bahamas, Barbados, caribbean, cruise deals, Cruise lines, cruise ships, cruise vacations, last minute cruise deals, Princess Cruises, Puerto Rico, San Juan, St. Martin, Windstar Cruises

Your Questions About Cruises – A Bit Of This And That

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Chris asks…

How long does it take for a cruise ship to pick up speed once it leaves port?

I will be sailing on the Ruby Princess but it doesn’t have to be specific for this ship.  Overall reviews would be lovely.  Also, how many kids generally sail on the Ruby Princess or Princess Cruises and will a staff member tell a parent to control their child if they are misbehaving/being obnoxious/rude/enjoying.  I have nothing against kids, I am 15, I just want to relax.

John answers:

It doesn’t take long for a cruise ship to get up to speed.   Normal cruising speed isn’t fast compared to cars, about 25 miles per hour, more or less.

No, a staff member will not tell a parent to control their child if they are misbehaving, rude, or obnoxious. The kind of people who won’t discipline their children are the kind who will either bite the staff member’s head off verbally on the spot, or go file a report about them.

As for the number of kids on board, the average number is not really meaningful.  The number can vary significantly depending on a number of factors.  The most important, perhaps, is the school calendar.  You can expect more kids during holidays and the summer, and fewer when schools are in session.

Ruth asks…

Norwegian Jewel cruise ship review, please?

-please give me a list of things to do for free
-please let me know if the Nickelodeon is a big part of the ship, and if its bad
-please tell me a short review if you want
-is it age appropriate for,, 13 16 19 21 and parents
-rate a couple things you have in mind

John answers:

Hi Ruth.  For reviews, I’d suggest you go to Cruise Critic.  They have hundreds of reviews of NCL cruises., and Norwegian Jewel in particular.

Unless you go on one of the infrequent “all access” sailings, where the emphasis on Nickelodeon is quite pronounced, you can avoid most encounters of the third kind with the characters.

The Jewel is certainly appropriate for you and your family.  Finally, most of the on board activities are included in the cruise fare and, therefore, free to the extent that you pay nothing additional to enjoy them – dining in many of the restaurants, nightly entertainment in the theater, additional entertainment in the lounges, the disco, the pool, movies, trivia games and activities around the pool, and on and on.

Joseph asks…

Advice/information about working on a cruise ship?

I’m 20 years old and looking for a job where I can travel and save money at the same time. I’ve heard mixed reviews about working on a cruise ships. What are the hours, pay and accommodations like?  Do you have time off the boat while docked?  What are the requirements for an entry level position in the kitchen or housekeeping department?  Which cruise lines offer the best pay for entry level positions?  Any help or advice on the subject would be great.

John answers:

The questions you have are best answered by the cruise lines.  But I have been on many cruises and also talked with the staff about their jobs.  I know that you must sign a contract that lasts about 6 to 9 months.  During that time you work every day and in many cases a split shift where you go on duty in the early morning and then have some time off during the day before returning  to work in the afternoon or evening.  After you complete your initial 6 to 9 month contract you get 2 or 3 months or so off.  If your work has been satisfactory, you’ll be invited to sign a new contract.

The ship’s crew does have the opportunity to get off ship in some ports some of the time.  But you can’t automatically get off at any port you choose.  It depends in part on your work schedule.  You may have to wait for a couple visits to a port before you have the free time to go ashore.

The pay on ships is very low, well below US minimum wage, but you get free room and board and share a cabin with two or three others, depending upon the ship.

You need to contact the cruise lines directly.  On their web sites you will find a link to jobs, employment, human resources or some such link that will give you information about their positions.  Some sites even have current vacancies they are recruiting for.  Please be aware that the majority of the staff does not have deck privileges, meaning that you cannot relax in the passenger areas during your down time.  To compensate, most of the cruise lines have dedicated crew areas, including dining room, bar, and in some cases a disco and a pool.

Don’t go to the web sites that advertise “cruise line jobs” because they charge a fee.  The cruise lines give you all you need without charging a fee.

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Technorati Tags: children on cruise ships, Cruise lines, cruise ship crew, cruise ship employment, cruise ships, NCL, Nickelodeon, Norwegian Jewel, Ship speed

Your Questions About River Cruises

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Sandra asks…

Circle Line Cruise – Rockin River Cruise NYC Question?

I bought tickets to ride the Circle Line Cruise (Rockin River Cruise) and watch a band preform on the boat.  Due to a family medical emergency I could not go the night of the cruise.  Is there any way I can exchange the tickets for another night?  The same band is playing next month and tickets are still available.  Can I go next month even though I paid for the cruise for tonight?

John answers:

Doubtful.  You could try to contact whoever it was that issued the ticket but if it says somewhere on it “non refundable” it pretty much means you are out of luck.

Joseph asks…

I’m visiting the Jordan River (ISRAEL) on a cruise-line shore excursion.  Will I be able to get baptized there?

The cruise excursion doesn’t offer baptism
but I am wondering if people will be waiting
at the Jordan River to baptize those who wish
to be baptized and I am willing to pay too.

Thank you!

John answers:

Most organized groups go to one of two sites for baptisms, Oser Al-Yahud,  traditionally believed to be the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and Yardenit.  Yardenit became the alternative site when Oser Al-Yahud was cut off during the Six Day War in 1967.

You’ll have to check the details of your shore excursion to determine if you will be at either location.  Groups customarily travel with their own cleric who baptizes the group’s members.  You will have to hope that luck is on your side and a cleric is there when you are.

You should also be aware that an environmental group has been arguing for some time that the waters of the Jordan are so polluted with raw sewage and agricultural runoff at Oser Al-Yahud that it is unsafe to enter the river.

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Technorati Tags: baptisms, Circle Line Cruises, Hudson River, Jordan River, Oser Al-Yahud, refunds, River Jordan, Yardenit

Your Questions About Cruise Deals On Line

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Daniel asks…

Cruise Deals?

Where can I find the best Cruise Deals online?

John answers:

I have found that the best way to find the cruise that you want at the best price is to simply go to the cruise line web sites and click on the links for “deals” and/or “specials”.  Most of the cruise lines have such a link but they are most easily found on the web sites for Carnival and Royal Caribbean.  On some other sites they are there but you have to look through a lot of stuff on the web/home page to find the link for specials.

Carnival has very low prices on occasion, but other lines like Royal Caribbean, NCL, and Princess are close.  You will also find that you get a much better price if you book well in advance and by that I mean 9 months to a year or more in advance.  And also, be flexible with your travel date and go when the cruise is offered at the lowest price.  The other thing that you can do is to sign up to receive their specials by email.  I get those all of the time too.

You should also consider enlisting the aid of a good travel agent.  Most don’t charge to book cruises, and they can help narrow down the options very quickly.

William asks…

From experience, what cruise website has the best deals and is the most reliable?

Hey, my wife and I want to plan a cruise for next summer.  We want something fun with good ratings but want a good deal (of course!)  Do you have experience getting stellar cruise deals?  We’ve both cruised before and I am a AAA member.

John answers:

Hi William, see my answer to Daniel above.  That will give you some direction in researching cruise bargains on line.

My bottom line advice to you, however, is to do some research, narrow down your choices, get an idea of what you get for your money – and then go to a travel agent.  A good agent’s help can be invaluable, and if something should go wrong while traveling, you will be very grateful tomhave someone you can all upon.

Sharon asks…

Do you know where to find good cruise deals?

I am looking for some good cruise deals.   I don’t care what cruise line.  I just want some good links.  Thanks a lot!

John answers:

All the major cruise lines have websites –,, etc.  You might also go to the large on line travel sites, like Expedia or Travelocity.  Browse around, use them to discover what’s available and what the costs will be for various itineraries.

If you find something you really like, book it if you want.  My advice – see a travel agent and have them book it for you.

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Technorati Tags: cruise bargains, cruise deals, cruise line websites, Cruise lines, cruise ships, on line cruise bookings

Your Questions About Cruise Insurance

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Maria asks…

cruise travel insurance info?

I am a NY res. traveling to Bermuda in July on RC cruise line out of NJ for my daughters sweet 16, taking a few friends of hers as well. My travel agent suggested travel insurance. does anyone have any ideas on where to get Insurance. without getting hit over the head. It seems to be a bit high through the agent.

John answers:

The insurance you get through the TA may be more costly than what you can get on your own.  Do an internet search for price comparisons for travel insurance.  There are sites that give you bids from multiple companies.  Make sure you get a policy that includes emergency evacuation back to the states in case of a medical emergency.  In some cases, that may be a better option than being treated in a local hospital.  Please be certain to read the whole policy, so you know the extent of the coverage it provides.  Most companies have toll free numbers staffed by knowledgeable representatives.  Don’t be shy about asking questions.  And an early “Happy Birthday!” to your daughter.

Steven asks…

Cruise Travel Insurance Refund?

I booked a cruise a few months ago and purchased travel insurance.  I have a pre-existing back and neck problem.  I have decided that due to my medical situation and possibility of surgery later it may be best that I cancel. I have notified Carnival and they refer me to contact claims to file a claim. Has anyone ever filed a claim?  Will I be able to get a refund or will they give me some excuse to keep my money?   I am well within the 60 days of a full refund minus the money I paid for the protection plan.  Does it matter if I had a pre-existing condition?

John answers:

“Will I be able to get a refund or will they give me some excuse to keep my money?”

They will abide by the contract they made with you.  That doesn’t mean your particular situation is covered.  You’ll have to check the terms of the contract.  You need to inform yourself as to what that contract covers before you call them up and try to file a claim.

From your statement, it sounds like your decision not to travel is based on your changing your mind, not your medical situation changing.  If that’s the case, I think you will have problems getting a refund.   Carnival’s travel insurance site refers to becoming “unexpectedly ill or injured”.  If the medical condition existed at the time of booking it’s not unexpected.  Of course, if your medical condition suddenly deteriorated or you had to schedule  surgery on your back, you would have a better argument for the “unexpected”.  The devil is in the details.

I’m unclear on whether you are more than 60 days out from sailing, or less.  If you have not yet reached your final payment date, you can probably cancel regardless.  That would be the safest option, if it is available to you.

The Carnival insurance also covers other events, such as unexpected illness of a family member, loss of a job, or a severe weather watch/warning on your route to the port.  I don’t know about your area, but we have some sort of severe weather watch nearly every day.  So you might be able to qualify on a different basis.  Find out what policy you have, what the conditions are, then go in with your strongest claim the first time.

Good luck.

Ruth asks…

Annual multi-trip travel insurance with cruise cover?

I need to get travel insurance that will cover me across Europe for the year but will also specifically cover a 2 week cruise holiday – in Europe, most policies that I have looked at don’t include this.

Any sugestions ?

John answers:

Every travel policy is slightly different.  They all cover cancellation, medical costs and emergencies, accidental death or injury, personal liability, theft and loss of personal possessions, luggage and passport.  I don’t know what additional coverage you’re looking for to cover a cruise holiday.

You can certainly shop around for insurance to cover your cruise.  Start with the insurance offered by the cruise line, and then widen your research (see the answer to Maria’s question above).  The balance of your trip is a bit ambiguous.  Call some of the insurance providers and ask questions.  If your plans are “up in the air” for the balance of the year, you may find it difficult to get insurance without being more specific.

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Technorati Tags: cruise insurance questions and answers, Cruise lines, cruise ships, pre-existing conditions

Your Questions About Cruise Weddings And Shore Excursions

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Charles asks…

Bolongo Beach Hotel in St. Thomas USVI?

Are you familiar with this hotel (not sure if I would call it a resort)??  I’m doing my wedding through Royal Caribbean cruise lines and chose St. Thomas for the wedding location, and this is where they do it.  I have read some horrible reviews about this place, but Royal Romance assures me that this is “a beautiful property”.  PLEASE give me an honest review.

John answers:

Bolongo does a lot of weddings so they have it down pat; the beach is great, there’s surf rolling in……

Be prepared, however, because there is almost always a brisk breeze blowing. 10-15 mph is not uncommon, so you should expect veils blowing and hair flying.  The ceremony is generally held on the soft sand, so you’ll probably be barefoot.

Bolongo is not at all glitzy.  It’s an older property, a bit worn around the edges, more authentic in its way than the high profile resorts.  If that meets you expectations, then you’ll be fine.  If, however, you’re looking for something more elegant and upscale, you should look into the Ritz Carlton or Frenchman’s Reef.

Chris asks…

What are the best shore excursions on a South Caribbean Cruise?

I’m going on a South Caribbean Cruise in 2 weeks, and have noticed that numerous places where we are stopping do the activities that we would like to do. We are stopping at:

St Thomas
St Kitts
St Lucia
St Maarten

We would like to go zip lining and snorkeling. We are already signed up to go canyoning in Dominica, and are going to the Malibu factory and on a cave tour in Barbados. Where are the best places for zip lining and snorkeling? I’ve seen mixed reviews on the snorkeling conditions and stuff you see zip lining on the other stops.

John answers:

I did the canopy tour/zip lines in Dominica and had a great time.  I booked it independently through WackyRollers.

St. Lucia is the place to do an island tour.  There are several very reputable companies you can book with.  The tour is long and is over winding, narrow roads, however, but it is quite beautiful.

In Barbados, I did the cave tour as well, and enjoyed it very much.  We hired a taxi and negotiated an island tour with a stop at the caves included.  Another popular excursion is snorkeling with the turtles.   If your cruise doesn’t offer this as an excursion, there are private companies that will.  This can be crowded.

If you’re in St. Thomas long enough, you can go over to St. John on your own, although this is a bit involved to do.  It’s time consuming, since you have to take a ferry to and fro.  Quite beautiful, however.  The Linde Point Trail leads to two beautiful beaches, Salamon Bay Beach and Honeymoon Bay Beach, both of which are relatively uncrowded. There aren’t any facilities, however.  If you go to St. John’s, watch the time carefully, and pay attention to the ferry schedule.

In St. Maarten, we decided to break away from the pack headed to Orient Bay, and took a taxi to a small beach near tye butterfly farm.  We did try snorkeling there, but it wasn’t exceptional.

Hope that helps.

Sandy asks…

The special upcharge restaurants- please answer if you’ve eaten in one?

My sister’s wedding cruise is coming up soon.

We’re going on the Eurodam.  It has several specialty restaurants that people mentioned on cruise critic.  Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind and Canaletto (which had crappy reviews).  She was interested in eating at one of those first 2 on the night of her wedding.

I have never eaten at a specialty restaurant b/c I’ve liked the food in the dining room and my interesting tablemates–plus having already paid for the meals, I don’t see the reason to pay extra for a meal.

So my questions are:
1- have you eaten at a specialty restaurant?
2- which ship were you on?
3- would you recommend it?
4- why?

John answers:

Yes, I’ve eaten at the specialty restaurants on Princess, Celebrity, NCL, Royal Caribbean and Azamara.

As you can probably guess, I’m a fan.  There is a an additional fee involved, of course, but I find the overall experience worth it.  The dining room is much smaller than the main dining room and the staff is chosen from the most seasoned and skilled of the crew.  Both of these factors contribute to a much better service level than one finds in the rather frenzied atmosphere of the 1000 seat main room.  The food is also better, with the kitchen offering selections that are not available in the main room.

Now, I don’t go to a specialty restaurant every evening.  I usually limit it to once per restaurant during a cruise.  I like treating myself and I think of it as experiencing as much of the ship as I can.

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Technorati Tags: Azamara, Barbados, Bolongo Bay, Celebrity, Cruise lines, cruise ships, Cruise weddings, Dominica, Frenchman's Reef, NCL, Princess, Royal Caribbean, shore excursions, specialty restaurants, St. Thomas

Your Questions About Cruise Websites

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Sandra asks…

What are some reputable and good travel sites that might be able to provide me with info/tickets for a cruise?

I’m planning on taking a cruise with my father in May, and I was just wondering where I would look to find tickets and information pertaining to a cruise.  As of now, I have no idea which cruise line I would like to go.  We would like to travel to the Bahamas.

John answers:

For an overview of the market, try Travelocity, Orbitz or Expedia.  These have a search feature which will give you all the options for your dates and destination.  Once you choose one or more candidates, you can go directly to the cruise companies’ websites and further research your options.

I know I sound like a broken record here, but my advice is always to go to a travel agent.  By all means, do some research first so you are more focused on what you are looking for, but make use of an agent’s experience.

Steven asks…

why do travel sites when you book cruise if they offer flight in package charge more than if you book separate?

John answers:

It’s possible, I guess, that they’re charging a bit more for the convenience of packaging all the components together.  That’s not typical of the way packaging usually works, however.  Have you checked if anything else is automatically added?

For example, do they include airport transfers in the package when you include air and exclude them when flights are not included?

How about insurance?  It’s typically calculated as a percent of the total cost.  When you add flights, the cost goes up.  So, too, should the cost of insurance.

A word of caution.  Booking the cruise and flights separately on your own is a good way to make a bad situation worse in the event something goes wrong.  And we all know flights are never delayed, cancelled or diverted.

Lizzie asks…

travel sites?

do you know of any good cruise travel sites like orbitz and expedia

John answers:

Travelocity functions along the same lines as the two you mentioned.

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Technorati Tags: Cruise websites, Expedia, Orbitz, travel agents, Travelocity