WANDERING WONDER WOMAN - a travel blog
What's the best cruise line?
This question is put forth to travel agents multiple times every single day. As travel agents they must represent ALL cruise lines, so unlike making a call to your “personal cruise planner” who will only search for a choice within their fleet, agents look at over 298 options to find the answer. Yes, 298 options…..this doesn’t even include Alaska Cruisetour itineraries (don’t get us started).
So, what is the best cruise line out there? We put the question to the agents at Travel Ventures. After extensive eye-rolling and snickering, they have FINALLY answered the question below. Each opinion was written separately, but as you can see they all have the same underlying belief; the client’s needs matter the most.
The Aged (to Perfection) Opinion
There isn’t a week that goes by that I’m not asked at least several times, what is my favorite cruise line? As a travel professional, I am expected to have opinions, and it’s nice to be in a profession where they are honored instead of dismissed. However, as many times as I’m asked this question, I have to take a short pause to gather my thoughts before espousing my opinion. It’s not that I don’t have favorites, but there are certainly plusses and minuses about every cruise line, the circumstances surrounding each sailing, and the people with whom I was cruising. So, the short version is that I don’t have a “favorite” cruise line, but I do have favorite cruise ships within each cruise line. When traveling with multi-generational families, there isn’t a better option than one of the Oasis class ships on Royal Caribbean. While these mega-ships may seem overwhelming at first, there’s no chance that the teenagers, the toddlers, the parents, or the seniors won’t have something to entertain them. From ice-skating, zip-lining, riding a merry-go-round, to watching a first run Broadway show, there truly is something for everyone on these ships.
For adult travel, as well as transatlantic and European cruises, my tried and true favorite is any of the Solstice class ships by Celebrity Cruise Line, especially the “Aqua Class” staterooms. These staterooms offer a unique dining experience in their private restaurant called “Blu.” There is no need to even go to a specialty restaurant if you have this as your dining venue, as the food is superb. It is small enough to allow anytime dining between 5:30 – 9:30 and have a table for two without a wait. The ships are large enough to provide plenty of music and entertainment options, but don’t feel crowded. There is something to be said about the smaller ships, as they can get into ports that the larger vessels cannot. So, if you want an experience that is relaxed, port-intensive, and you are not dependent on being entertained with production shows each night, you can’t go wrong with the Windstar Cruise Line sailing ship. There is something mesmerizing about pulling out of a port on the French Riviera and watching the crew unfurl the sails as this vessel glides to its next port of call.
I suppose I could continue with a larger list of favorites, as the cruise industry is very diverse. However, as I tell clients, it is important to know what one’s likes and dislikes are and we try to find the best ship to fit each person’s individual tastes. Again, you know what is often said about opinions, everyone has one, and they’re all different.
The Mid-Lifer Opinion
What’s your favorite cruise line? Ugh, this is a hard question and I hate it. It’s a personal question; it’s like asking me what brand of toothpaste I use. What I need in a toothpaste may not be what you need in a toothpaste; therefore, what I like is completely irrelevant. Never ask your agent this question, instead ask, what cruise line is best for me?
Ah…..there we go, this is what I do and this is what we’re good at: qualifying the client. Are you a spa lover? A foodie? Are there kids involved? Are you active? Does anyone have mobility issues? All these questions (and many more) tell me which cruise line you need. Also people tend to generalize a cruise line, which is always a bad idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I only sail on XYZ cruise line, so if I am going to cruise I will do it with them.” Rule #1 in the cruise business; never limit yourself to one cruise line; it’s like ordering the chicken every single night at dinner. No two ships, even within the same fleet, are the same. It’s rare to find a cruise line that can maintain the same standards throughout.
But, I have been told I must answer the question so here we go, as a mother of two kids under 10, using only cruise lines in the large ship category: After dropping the kids off at the Disney Cruise Line kid’s program, I’ll be headed off to the Canyon Ranch spa aboard Celebrity Cruise Line. Once my spa treatment is done, I’ll pick the kids up and take them to Royal Caribbean’s ice skating rink, bumper cars, rock climbing wall, and flow rider where I have already pre-booked private lessons. Later on in the afternoon, we’ll settle in for a cooking class aboard Holland America that will be set to the regional area we’re cruising in, and (surprise) also has class options for the kids. After having dinner back on Celebrity Cruise Line, we’ll see a show on Disney Cruise Line and then say goodnight ending the day in our Mini-Suite aboard Princess Cruise Line (best suite bargain in the industry). Oh, and the whole day my husband has been on Carnival Cruise Line eating at Guy Fieri’s Hamburger Joint.
And of course, none of the above statements apply to cruises under seven nights………
See, I told you this was a hard question.
The Young One’s Opinion
As a travel agent, more often than not, I get asked the same question when I do cruise research for a client – “So, what’s your favorite cruise line”?
What’s my favorite cruise line? WHAT’S MY FAVORITE CRUISE LINE??? That’s like asking me if I like chocolate, or chocolate. Seriously, it’s a really hard question to answer. Each cruise line is inherently different from the next –purposely done, to set them apart from the competition. I’ve been on everything from Carnival to Celebrity, and they all have their pros and cons.
Ask any of the other ladies in my office and they will tell you I am a total cruise snob. Now, I used to get defensive about that, but no, I really am a snob when it comes to cruising. I like the big, new ships and I love staying in a cabin with a balcony. With that being said, I think I’d have to say my favorite cruise line is Royal Caribbean. For me, nothing compares to those Oasis and Quantum Class ships with the aqua theaters, zip lines, aerial shows, 20+ dining options – and that’s just the beginning! I think the entertainment and amenities that Royal Caribbean offers far surpass those of the other cruise lines on the water.
Look, take what I say with a grain of salt – there is no right answer to this question. Everyone wants to get something different out of their cruise experience. Some people like the shorter sailings on smaller ships, while others – like me – prefer the mega ships doing longer itineraries. It’s all about personal preference. My job is to put you on the cruise that’s right for you – not what’s right for me, or for your neighbor two houses down. In the end, yours is the only opinion that matters.