Did you know that on certain Royal Caribbean ships you can rent a personal shipboard I-Phone which includes on-ship guiding and family walkie-takie features? Did you know that it’s possible to take a cupcake decorating class at sea? Did you know that first-run 3-D movies from Dreamworks are available on the Oasis and Allure of the Seas mega-ships? Did you know that on several ships you can buy a single glass of vintage wine from state of the art enology vending machines? And, did you know that the first Starbucks at Sea is so popular that customers will wait in long lines to get their special coffee fix?
Over the last two years, with the introduction of so many new and innovative ships like the Disney Dream, Norwegian Epic, Oasis and Allure, Celebrity Eclipse, Costa Deliziosa, etc. most people are astonished when they found out all the amenities and activities that are offered on cruise ships today.
Cruise Industry has come a long way
The cruise industry has come a long way from the days of shuffleboard and giant jackpot bingo (both still available on most ships). Now, it’s possible to take a seminar on reflexology before heading to a Sudoku Challenge match or to a spa café with the ultimate in healthy food choices. I-Pads are now being used as menus for onboard specialty restaurants. And that doesn’t cover ice rinks, surf riders, zip-lines, aqua theatres, big name Broadway shows, and the list goes on and on.
Smaller ships adding amenities
Not to be outdone by the big ships, smaller cruise lines like Azamara Club Cruises have refined their onboard experiences to appeal to a customer who enjoys quality without large numbers of passengers getting in their way. Complimentary wine at lunch and dinner, expedited boarding and disembarking procedures, romantic dinners outdoors with candles (electric), acoustic guitar music and casual attire, free self-service laundry’s, special customer help concierge desks and wonderful on-deck show barbecues with ship’s officers as servers are a few of the product tweaks that are working for Azamara.
Free Shore Excursions, Air, Hotels
Regent Seven Seas is offering free shore excursions and free pre or post hotels stays with their cruises. On the Prince Albert II, free customized parkas, gloves and boots are included for Antarctic cruises. And air credits and deals seem to be almost everywhere.
So many options, ask a professional
The options being offered to cruisers today literally boggles the mind. When compared to other vacations, with all the added amenities cruising is an unbeatable value. All of these choices reinforce the need to use a professional cruise travel counselor who is aware of all that is available to help build that perfect, customized cruise vacation.
Written by Rich Skinner, who is the author of Vinnie the Cruise Dog, a primer for first-time cruisers. He specializes in making custom cruise and land vacations for his demanding clients.