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ROAD & TRAVEL Cruise Travel: Tips on Booking Luxury Cruises

Cruise Vacation Tips: Insider Secrets to Booking a Cabin

Spring has sprung and winter weary travelers itching to escape are large in number. For an easy getaway, many consider cruising the ideal option.

Here, Mike Thiel, President of luxe travel club Hideaways International, divulges some of his best secrets to smart booking. From big ships to little, pricey to over-the-top posh, he readies ship seekers with the ultimate in insider advice:

  1. Each cruise line has its own theme, charm and character. Find one that most closely matches your personality.

  2. When choosing a cruise line, be sure to consider the on-board ambiance of the vessel. What type of guest does the cruise line cater to? Primarily families? The mature traveler? An eclectic international clientele? There’s something for everyone. Some cruise lines’ on-board activities are simpler because their guests require less entertainment, or they focus on destinations. Others add roller rinks, rock-climbing walls, and wave pools to appeal to a broader clientele or to entertain guests during several days at sea.

  3. The size of the vessel often determines the itinerary. If you want to visit unique, hard-to-visit ports of call – the inner reaches of Alaska’s Inside Passage or the narrower track of the Amazon River – look for one of the small-ship cruise lines. Larger ships won’t be able to dock – let alone get to – those out-of-the-way places.

  4. The longer the cruise, the fewer children there are on board and the more exotic the itinerary (typically.) The cruising trend is toward the longer “grand voyage” of two, three, even four months.

  5. There is a cruise for every budget. Many say that it’s worth the extra money to book an ocean-view cabin at minimum. Highly recommended, however, is a private veranda or suite for additional space and amenities, which translates to increased comfort.

  6. If you don’t care about traffic outside your cabin, choose one near the elevator or stairs for ease in getting around. And if you want the least rocky ride, choose a cabin near the middle of the ship and as low as possible.

  7. Frequent cruisers can earn additional discounts for repeat travel with the same cruise line. Discounts are also offered for back-to-back cruises.

  8. If you don’t do well with the concept of structured dining, choose a ship with an open-seating policy in its dining room. You’ll have more flexibility as to when – and with whom – you eat. If the maitre d’ is good at his job, he’ll match you up with some interesting and like-minded people.

  9. Exotic voyages like those anywhere besides the Caribbean, Mediterranean or Alaska can sell out a full year in advance. While you may find what looks like a good deal at the last minute, you likely won’t find good airfare and might end up with a cabin over the engine room. Book early, and listen to the sound advice of a trusted travel consultant.

  10. Prime booking season, known as “wave season,” begins in January for all destinations for the rest of the year. Research and book your cruise as early as possible to get the best choices available.

Making friends for life on luxury cruise ships isn’t uncommon, says Thiel. “If you’ve never considered cruising, I strongly encourage you to do so. Nothing beats it for the convenience of visiting multiple destinations while only having to unpack once. And passengers who sail on our recommended lines have many first-class amenities at their fingertips. Pick a ship that’s right for you and you’ll likely be sailing with others who similarly appreciate – and expect - high cruising standards.”

Thiel’s travel club, Hideaways International, offers a free one-year membership to travelers who book any cruise through their travel service. If you’d like to find out more about traveling through Hideaways, visit www.hideaways.com or call 877-843-4433.

Since you’re cruising the web already, you may also like to know that Expedia, Royal Caribbean and Travelocity were ranked as the Internet’s best sites for booking a cruise online out of the web’s ten most-popular cruise booking websites – including both select online travel agencies and online cruise sites, according to Keynote Customer Experience Rankings.

(Source: Hideaways)

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